Pakistan: Unkept promises, revived hopes.

Category: Asia, World Affairs Topics: Pakistan Views: 1634

Fifty years after the birth of Pakistan many still weep at the thought. They are those who were caught in the religious bloodletting that struck the sub-continent after Britain's hasty and unorganized withdrawal.

The great wound of national creation - the bloody partition of the British Raj into India and Pakistan - has yet to be healed. At least in the minds of certain diehards.

But while official celebrations are going on at tax payers' money, one can only pause for a moment and reflect on the last fifty years.

Is it regret or hope? The choice is Pakistan's.

What would those who fought for a homeland thought of today's Pakistan? Would Mohamed Ali Jinnah, Pakistan's first leader who died barely a year after Pakistan was created, approve of the pitiful situation the country is in today?

Despite having got off to a relative good start with a bureaucracy, educational institutions, an army, an advantage which few others had, the country has sunk to a level of despair. Ruled by self- appointed leaders - and its faith in democracy battered by the corrupt, often brutal manner in which the few "elected" civilian prime ministers have ruled - Pakistan reached an all time low.

A Berlin-based research group, Transparency International, last year called Pakistan the second most corrupt country in the world. A Pakistani whose patriotism is beyond question cynically remarked: "That is because they have bribed the group." This statement is but an echo of the deep despair that is wringing the hearts of millions of Pakistanis who love their country and who have sacrificed and are willing to sacrifice all they can.

But, asked a Pakistani in New York, "sacrifice for whom? For the corrupt politicians, the babus, the pirs and fakirs.?" In a country which sought for freedom to avoid communal riots, it is strange that Pakistan has ethnic conflicts. Karachi has became Pakistan's killing filed. A city that was once prosperous and which many in sixties termed as the "future Hong Kong of the area" has now become an economic ghost town. 

All the promises that awaited the Muslims in 1947 have withered and faded. 

In a country of about 130 million with a GNP per capita of 460 dollars and an adult illiteracy of over 65% what is to be expected? Compare this to Singapore with no natural resources, Korea, Taiwan and others. It is a pitiful comparison, almost insulting.

Fifty years after partition all that lies around are shattered dreams. In the land of the "Pak" (meaning pure) only 32% have access to sanitation. In a land where freedom, peace and security was visualized, parents fear whether their children will be back from school.

This may sound as a harsh indictment of Pakistan's present political and social set up but let Pakistanis not fool or lull themselves with the opiate of self praise and satisfaction.

There are many who feel that the country will ease itself toward democracy. However, democracy should be tailored to societal needs and expectations and not be an "imported" one. Democracy can only flourish in societies with a high level of education, where political platforms are well defined and where the focus is on local and national needs and issues. Systems should be enforced with the approval of the people and no one should be above the law. The stress should be on leadership rather than the leader.

The last few years has seen a decline in the quality of leadership.

Pakistan had a populist prime minister whose main concentration was on "gheraos & jaloas" (cordon and burn). These whipping up of mass emotions and frenzy coupled with "hartals" strikes dented severe blows to a faltering economy.

However, it is Pakistan's good fortune to have at its helms Nawaz Sharif, a pragmatic person who by reviewing very closely the country turbulent and chequered past offer programs that will fill those celebrating its next fifty years with pride.

It is true nations are not born within a day. Nor can they be built and developed through the efforts of a single individual or party.

It requires a sustained, collective and sincere efforts of its people. And I am sure Pakistanis do not lack these qualities and have the capacity to do a massive and essential job of bringing their country at par with the leaders of Asia. 

Good luck, Pakistan.

  Category: Asia, World Affairs
  Topics: Pakistan
Views: 1634

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