Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Let There Be a Cultural Revolution in Pakistan

July 16, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi

Pakistan is beset with the following diverse problems that hinder its shaping up as a modern state with robust economy, social freedom and a truly democratic culture.

  1. The unrelenting clash between the religion and the state, the intrusion and over- lordship of clerics in state affairs
  2. The dogged and deep-rooted feudal system.
  3. Divisions and schisms on the basis of caste, creed, faith, financial status, tribalism, race and gender, ethnicity, language, region and provinces, subversive powers of intolerance, violence and hatred.
  4. The internecine feuding between center and provinces.
  5. Suppression of cultural manifestations and diversity by curbing peoples’ freedom of choice for pursuit of happiness in the name of fake and narrow concepts and dogmas pedaled by the ignorant zealots and fanatical ideologues.
  6. The holy cow image of the army, bureaucracy and clergy and their being above public censure and accountability.
  7. The narrow social vision, low literacy.
  8. The clash between personal and class interests on one hand and the national interest on the other. The preference for the former over the latter.
  9. Lack of long term thoughtful planning for development. Non-implementation of the previous plans.
  10. Political anarchy.
  11. Poor civic conditions. Lack or obsolete nature of infrastructure.
  12. Alienation of people in decision making process and rule of oligarchy.
Pakistan is therefore, in need of a cultural revolution. However, it should not be a bloody revolution as happened in China from 1966 until 1976 initiated by great Chines leader Mao Zedong.   During that period millions of people were persecuted in the violent phase of Chinese history. Pakistan should embrace peaceful and constructive cultural, economic and political revolution which like a strong torrent should wash away all the soci-economic and political filth and dirt, accumulated ever since its birth.
We as a nation are still engaged in a futile and interminable discussion and debate about the form of government, and the role of the army and religion in politics. Besides, there is no let up in the deliberately engineered slogan of “Islam is in danger” by the religious right to keep the population behind them. The fact is that Pakistan is the only country where Islam is safe by all means and in all respects. Pakistan is a veritable citadel of Islam and would remain so.
in their hay days of power, the mainstream parties like Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan People’s Party drastically strayed from their chartered course and thus are also responsible for the down-slide and deterioration in Pakistan. These parties have to their credit some good work but in the final analysis they too woefully dismayed the people of Pakistan and therefore had to suffer irretrievable reverses.
There has been a persistent political and constitutional chaos all along in Pakistan. The political anarchy and the oligarchic rule have kept the country destabilized and weak in the task of institutions building, in economic progress and with regard to the flowering of a civil society. In a chaotic political situation, the army has to assume a savior’s role. The country instead of blossoming into a civil, egalitarian, democratic polity is, on the contrary, economically poor, politically directionless and socially backward. The politicians who should have set the country’s course on the right tracks have miserably disappointed this nascent nation by their unholy and unpatriotic craving for power thus trampling the supreme national interests.
We have to, therefore, clear the cobwebs of abyss and setbacks by an all-embracing cultural revolution to influence every individual and every aspect of our body politic and society. We must have a new political culture enshrining free and fair elections by an independent election commission, unvarnished democracy and the parliament without pressures and blackmailing of the administration.
Similarly, we must have an economic culture, which instead of serving a few individuals and classes, should cater for the whole nation and aim at making it economically stronger. On the social front People who find themselves in bondage in face of elitist classes and powerful individuals should be free to seek legal and social justice. They must not be subjected to whims and dictates of the segments of the society with self-serving agendas.
The expatriate Pakistanis can substantially contribute towards unfurling such plans for Pakistan that have been adopted by the developed countries for stability, prosperity, peace and order. The expatriates are the beneficiaries of and witness to the amazing societal structure in Europe and United States that is premised upon and geared towards the happiness and welfare of the people.
The expatriates deserve a share and right in decision making process as well as representation in both the houses of the Parliament in Pakistan. Thus far, despite a stupendous contribution by way of foreign exchange every year towards the national economy, the expatriates merely have a right only to cast their vote.
There is a massive presence of the Pakistanis abroad that should have the right to contest for national assembly and senate from the votes of their expatriate community. Or else a specific number of seats should be allocated or reserved for Pakistanis living abroad. For the present until an elaborate modus operandi is worked out for reservation of seats or holding of elections, a fixed number of Pakistanis should be given observer status to witness the proceedings in the national assembly and the senate.