Today’s Pakistan – A Sorry Tale of Incompetence

Beating all odds, Pakistan emerged on the world map on 14th of August 1947. Its creation was no less than a miracle as it was snatched despite all atrocities of the British Raj and hegemonic designs of Indian National Congress. Our founding fathers vowed to protect the religion, culture and traditions, art and architecture, language and literature and economy of Muslims of Subcontinent from the monopolistic Hindu designs. Muslims faced an existential threat and their future was destined to be doomed in united India. Hindus being the majority community in united India wanted to eliminate the Muslims from all spheres of life and enslave all other communities in the Subcontinent just to quench their thirst of promoting Hindutva.

Between the two major communities of the Indian Subcontinent i.e. Muslims and Hindus, there existed some fundamental differences. Muslims’ cultural, religious, social and economic ideas are unique, universal and matchless and these led to the genesis of the “Two Nation Theory”. This was the very idea which instilled in our forefathers the determination to render selfless sacrifices for the noble cause of Pakistan.

Muslims were led by the dynamic, the foresighted, and the determined leader, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He espoused the Two Nation Theory and led the League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940 which called for the formation of independent states in eastern and western parts of British India.
While Pakistan was in its nascency, Quaid’s untimely demise put the nation on tenterhooks. Quaid’s successors could not save his Pakistan from all sorts of anarchy and chaos. And, today, the situation is so worse that there is hardly any ray of hope.

Pakistan today is facing such problems which, if not coped with, may have grave consequences in near future. These are threatening the very existence of the state. We recently celebrated Independence Day with great fervour. Now, it is the time to devote a few moments for a greater phenomenon — “The National Cause” — and ponder, where we stand, as a nation today. Where is Pakistanism?  Do we feel, act and demonstrate as Pakistanis? Did we fulfil our responsibilities as Pakistanis? The answer would definitively be in negative and it’s a matter of grave concern.

Here is a brief analysis of major threats, Pakistani state faces today.

Since its inception, Pakistan had consistently faced political instability. The momentum, pace and the spirit of nation building, which the Muslims gained under the vibrant leadership of great Quaid, soon evaporated. The dreams of transforming Pakistan into a modern democratic and Islamic welfare sate shattered. Political intrigues, frequent regime changes and insanity of ruling elite made Pakistan take nine long years to formulate a workable constitution for the state. Unfortunately, even this delayed achievement hardly lasted for a couple of years. Both civilian and military rules failed to solve the country’s problems and remained entangled in political wrangling and the power tug of war. Democratic norms and tolerance could not get rooted in the society. Today, “Tom and Jerry” race to grab power is again being played by the political actors.

Poverty has been and is still one of the greatest challenges faced by Pakistan today yet no concrete steps have been taken by any government in country’s history. The poverty and sufferings of oppressed segments of the society are rising but the ruling elite seems to have little desire to overcome this challenge. Pakistan’s sixty per cent population is living below poverty line, a World Bank report entitled “World Development Indicators (WDI) 2013” revealed recently. The international poverty line is two dollars a day or more simply, an income of Rs. 200 per day. The report shows that 21 per cent of Pakistanis live below $1.25 per day. A comparison of regional countries shows that the poverty rate in Sri Lanka and Nepal is significantly lesser than that of Pakistan with 23.9 per cent and 57.35 per cent, respectively. So, there is a great need to address the issue of poverty on priority basis.

Unfortunately, we have not been able to educate our nation. For the last few years, Pakistan’s adult literacy rate is stagnant at 58% which means that about half of the country’s adult population is unable to read or write. The figure is not surprising when we consider that only 50 per cent of country’s rural population have ever attended school. According to the Pakistan Education Atlas 2013, improvement in the education sector comes at a snail’s pace, with 32% of children aged 5-9 years are out of school and 17% of primary schools consist of a single room. The quality of education can be gauged from the fact that no Pakistani University ranked among top 100 universities in 2014 rankings. Being the only panacea, education sector should be given due consideration and should be provided with necessary resources to attain the always-coveted cent per cent literacy rate.

Corruption like a cancer has spread in all spheres of public life in Pakistan. In 2013, Pakistan stood at 127th position among 175 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) published by the Transparency International (TI). However, the monster of corruption is still hitting hard. A corrupt system cannot guarantee the sustainability of any system. Therefore, a strong, independent and transparent accountability mechanism is highly needed to put the state machinery on right track.

“Corruption is a curse in India and amongst Muslims, especially the so-called educated and intelligentsia. Unfortunately, it is this class that is selfish and morally and intellectually corrupt. No doubt this disease is common, but amongst this particular class of Muslims it is rampant.” (Jinnah’s letter to Ispahani, 6 May 1945).
Acute energy crisis has also badly affected every segment of Pakistan. In summers, frequent power outages cripple the lives of people and the gap between demand and supply constantly widens and the shortfall reaches between 6,000 and 8,000 megawatts while during winters, the situation becomes even worse due to a shortage of gas. Besides costing 2% to the GDP, it has also frozen the industrial activity in the country, leaving millions of people jobless. The unemployment is also rising rapidly and the huge population explosion has further aggravated the situation. Long-term planning to solve the crisis probably has not been the priority of the successive governments. A resource rich country like Pakistan can easily overcome this issue, but, it needs a strong political will, commitment and devotion.

In the post 9/11 scenario, problems for Pakistan have multiplied. Country’s aligning with the international community in global war against terror has resulted in loss of strategic depth and regional influence. The war has caused Pakistan a colossal loss of more than 100 billion dollars. The figures jointly compiled by the ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Interior reveal that during the last 13 years, the direct and indirect cost incurred by Pakistan on the war on terror and the losses due to terrorist attacks amounted to $102.51 billion. According to a report submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2013 by the top spy agency of the country, the security forces have suffered 15,681 casualties, while fighting Taliban militants in the tribal areas since 2008 and the war had cost 53,510 precious lives since 2003. Our social and cultural norms too suffered an irreparable loss. Now, there is little left for Pakistan at its western front, in post-2014 Afghanistan. A broad-based national consensus and strong determination on the part of political elite and people of Pakistan is direly needed to overcome this challenge.

The inefficiency and ineptness of state machinery has given birth to a host of problems; curse of provincialism, religious intolerance, attacks on minorities, target killings, kidnappings for ransom, extortion and money laundering. State has miserably failed to provide fundamental rights to its citizens. Their lives and property is insecure. People have little access to nutritious food and clean drinking water.

Hence, the challenges faced by Pakistan are of high magnitude, we just cannot sing the songs of the strength of our nation by saying that we are an atomic power and the most powerful Muslim country of 190 million people with strong military muscles. In fact, there is little will, competency, devotion and commitment on the part of ruling elite to cope with these challenges. Nothing is unachievable for the selfless, hardworking and brave sons of the soil who are always ready to sacrifice for the nation. But, there is a need to streamline these efforts to reap the fruits of these selfless sacrifices. A target-oriented, realistic, uniform and practical approach is the need of the hour.

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