On the brink of havoc

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Ishtiaq Chaudhry

Being a humble citizen of Pakistan is quite painful, and it should be so for every citizen who is undergoing the confusion and chaos prevailing in the country. Poverty, hunger, corruption, favouritism, nepotism, social inequality and injustice are running to the roots of the country. As a result, people are suffering the trials and tribulations with no prospects of a silver lining. The terrific and sorrowful tales of the poor against the luxurious lifestyle of the elite is a reflection of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens for the reason that absence of social and economic justice has eaten up the middle and working classes.
Technically, we are close to default, though no formal announcement has been made. While the poor suffer, the elite enjoy perks and privileges in the form of new helicopters and luxury cars while the poor have been chained in the labyrinth of profound discontentment and unspeakable frustration. People’s power to buy the necessities of life and commodities and pay the exorbitant indirect taxes is decreasing with each passing day.
The egocentric power hungry politicians who are least concerned with the people’s empowerment live only for themselves and their families. They remain much more worried about their offsprings than the poor masses of the country whom they consider as their slaves. Endless greed on the part of the ruling elite mainly composed of politicians, bureaucrats, and the business class has created an environment of unashamed plunder of national resources. Was this the Pakistan envisioned by our forefathers?
Whether we can close our eyes like a pigeon in order to escape from the heartrending report of the World Justice Index 2022 whereby Pakistan stands on the serial No.129 out of 140 Countries in the perspective of Rule of Law, and even in this region of South Asia, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh occupy a much better position than us. In our own region we only surpass our neighbouring war torn Afghanistan where there is no system for the administration of justice.
76 years have gone with the wind, yet we have not come out of the crisis and instability which reigns supreme in the lexicon of Pakistan. The political turmoil infused with confusion and chaos is the order of the day. Our system of administration of justice is utterly in shambles, along with our state structure and civil administration as the same has not been able to render justice to the poor and the needy. Our system is reflection of what the phrase goes, ‘Law grinds the poor and rich rules the law.’ Our education system is equally not an exception to demolition. Ghost schools are in abundance. We spend on education even less than that of Ghana, Maldives, and Nepal. More than 22 million kids are still out of school.
Like education, our health system is too a victim of annihilation. The people by and large have to empty their pockets before doctors at their private clinics treat them. Our administrative system is too weak to cater to the problems of citizens. Our urban population is increasing at an alarming rate, creating pyramid administrative challenges which the hundred years old colonial system is unable to cope with.
Since inception, we did not try to stand upon our own legs but instead rested our economy upon the borrowed economy. We had no other option but to accept pressures from those upon whom we rested our life. Our enemies are using all media tools to fan the flames in Balochistan, and Gilgat-Baltistan. Nevertheless, the alarming situation demands that we should move forward to address all the rightful grievances and complaints. We are still unable to comprehend the fast changing world perspective and ignore regional developments. Saudi Arabia and Iran’s long standing rivalry has turned into love affairs whereby Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran are moving towards ‘Shangie Group’ and in such a political scenario, South Asia is gaining importance in the days and weeks ahead. International statistics indicate that by 2050, developing countries shall be contributing 65% of world GDP, half of which shall be in South Asia, and powerful economies like China’s shall be leading.
Though pressing problems have sieged our society, and equally shaken our economy and political system, yet we are blessed to have a country by the grace of God. It is still up to us to decide whether we still want to make it hell or heaven on earth as our country has abundant resources. We have four seasons along with the world’s largest irrigation system of canals and the Indus basin region. We have immense reserves of a number of minerals and natural resources that include coal, gold, copper, bauxite, mineral salt, chromite, iron ore, ruby, topaz, and emerald. By and large, we have almost seventy-three dams and reservoirs in Pakistan, including Terbela Dam which is the largest earth filled dam in the world and is second largest by structural volume. More than 64 percent of the country’s population is below the age of 30 while 29 percent is between 15 and 29. We have a powerful army, armed with the latest missile technology the discipline of which is worldly acknowledged.
Notwithstanding all the blessings of Almighty Allah, if the havoc is still approaching us, no one else is responsible. It is we ourselves who are responsible for our own actions, not anyone else. Let us admit the stark truth with open heart that we ourselves lost East Pakistan by depriving the Bengalis from their legitimate political, economic and linguistic rights instead of inviting them for sharing the powers in the power corridors; and in the remaining western part it is we ourselves who created social and political rifts and divided the people so that instead of empowering them we could rule over the mass subjects.
Where are we heading towards? A disaster is approaching us. Let’s rise above from our narrow self-interests; revisit the policies and actions taken in the long run of running the affairs of the country, evaluate the pitfalls and follies committed by all and sundry, and come up with new charters of state structure, governance, democracy, economy in synch with our national interest in order to save the Titanic of Pakistan from being sunk.
Let’s resurrect Pakistan in order to establish such a system of governance the fruits of which could reach to the citizens of the country. Let’s have the guts to establish a peaceful society in order to live in peace with our neighbours. Let’s bring tangible reforms in our taxation system in order to lessen the miseries of the poor who are deprived from their fundamental rights and basic facilities including employment, health, education, residence, life and security.
Are we too selfish to rise above our self-interests and unable to think of our homeland being lost in injustice, orthodoxy, religious intolerance, terrorism? Are we incompetent to establish such a society whereby all people along with their different religions and sects could lead their life happily?
We can solve and resolve all our problems with patience and endurance by establishing a grand national consensus. We can address the national question with open heart on the basis of provincial and regional autonomy by giving due legitimate rights to the provinces as well as to the regions. We can establish system of social justice on the basis of equality and equity in order to create harmonious balance among the different segments of society. Everything is in our hands provided we are ready to sacrifice our ego and self-interest for the country and honour our commitment in all respects through thick and thin.
The writer is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and can be reached at ishtiakch@gmail.com.