Javed Hassan Hashmi
PhD Scholar in International Relations at National University Of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad
Borrowing from the famous novel “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens and modifying a little; “it is the best of times, it is the worst of times. It is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness. It is the season of light, it is the season of darkness. It is the spring of hope, it is the winter of despair. We have everything before us, we have nothing before us”. Battle lines have been drawn. The society is clearly divided. There are people for change and there are forces of status quo. Those holding flag of change consider hope is the currency of day while those clung to status quo are fast drowning in the sea of despair. The obtaining environment is instrumental in flourishing of both narratives.
The hope is essential. The hope is necessary. It has been long time, perhaps over 40 years that we as a country and as a nation are spiraling down. Our economy started dooming the day policy of nationalization was announced in 70s. The country that was growing over 6 % annually was put on the regressive path; willfully or foolishly. No reprieve since that fateful decision. No efforts to change course. Businesses have suffered. Our social fiber started decaying the moment we became involved in petty politics. Afghan war of 80s has its share in this decline too as it brought with it lot of ill. Nonparty based elections in 85 favoured the personality politics against the ideology. Thence entered the corruption in our upper governance system and became epidemic in 90s and beyond. The complete nation has suffered. The effects of these events/decisions have taken a heavy toll. It has cost us our values, customs, our integrity and even our desire to improve as an individual and as a nation. Therefore, hope is important.
Despair is unnecessary. Forces of status quo and their agents are spreading despondency; thus causing despair. The interests of rent seekers and mafias are hurting and in the process making them nervous. The corrupt politicians, enrolled bureaucrats, their affiliated cartels and associated media have joined hands to retard the process of reforms. Therefore, they are causing despair in society through their respective and collaborative actions. Politicians from various political parties are not letting the parliament function in a democratic manner; instead, they have kept it hostage to their coercive agendas and want to use legislation or even conduct of routine house business as leverage for political gains. Political allies in a coalition government are also out to exploit fragility of ruling party; thus causing confusion and making the political system look weak and crumbling. The cumulative effect is spread of despondency and fading of hope.
There is need to arrest the negativity and cultivate hope. It is everybody’s job. Starting from individual level to state level, each person and every organization has to play respective part to bring “collective ourselves” out of hole that we find ourselves in. Media needs to take lead followed by or simultaneously academia whose expertise will be pivotal. Their potential is immense and thus they can contribute hugely. Luminaries from civil society and leaders of political parties are in a position to complement the efforts of media and academia in creating an amazing environment in society that will guide our men and women alike in becoming responsible citizen and useful members of society with an aim to perform their respective duties honestly and help their fellow citizen in different aspects of life. Government of the day, whoever and whenever, must set the goals for bringing reforms in education, health, social justice including police and judiciary with clear timelines while building consensus amongst various walks of life including contesting political forces.
The hope is in the air. The honest and hardworking leader is hope. His vision of New Pakistan and converting it into Islamic Welfare State on lines of the First Muslim State of Madina is hope. His program on poverty alleviation “Ehsaas” is hope. His concern for environment and plan for “Clean and Green Pakistan” is hope. His endeavour for creating jobs through activation of construction industry and improving skills of youth through “Kamyab Jawan” and Hunarmand Pakistan” is hope. His desire of turning Pakistan into a soft power through tourism and dynamic foreign policy is hope.
The current dispensation is making serious efforts in tackling various problems. It has brought positivity in economic situation through practical reform measures. Special Economic Zones are being established alongside other steps to industrialize the country. Serious efforts are underway towards improving health; Initiation of “Health Card” is a step in ensuring availability of health facilities to needy citizen. Education is another area that is receiving deliberate attention. Process to formulate uniform syllabi has commenced. Madrassas are being brought into mainstream.
Room for improvement always exists. Government needs to accelerate reforms in social justice system. Citizen ‘friendly police’ that protects the interest of public and does not become tool of coercion in the hands of influential, ‘competent lawyers’ who have received intensive training and are willing to help their fellow citizen pro bono too and ‘professional and unbiased judiciary’ with formal induction and appropriate tenure system are foremost necessity. Health and education reforms must be expedited for ensuring affordable healthcare and education for all as required by constitution. Appropriate training facilities for teachers and skilled workers alongside a mechanism to award license for undertaking their respective assignment would help improve quality of workmanship and standard of teaching itself. Improvement in traffic rules/implementation through regular training of traffic police, awareness campaign and slapping fines would hardly cost any additional funding. Women participation in various fields of life through ensuring provision of requisite training for respective fields, adequate pays will not only add to their empowerment but will also allow government to make the other 50% of population more effective in uplift of society and development of country.
This is doable. This must be done for larger good of society, country and our future generations. Hope can thus generate the ability to transform us at individual as well as collective level. Let us support the process and help achieve the greater good collectively. Let us be the part of solution rather than being part of problem. Let us quell the despair. Let us beat the forces that thrive on despair. Let us be agent of positive change. Let us generate and transmit hope. Let us create win win for all.