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Stop the Rot in Pakistan

Pakistanlink, Commentary, Ahmed Quraishi Posted: Jun 03, 2009

Islamabad , Pakistan -- The worst part of the continuing instability in Pakistan since 2007 is that it is fast pushing this nation’s best and brightest to lose hope. The doomsday reporting on Pakistan in the Am-Brit [American-British] media – which appears more like a war campaign than reporting – is devastating the national psyche. But this would not have been problematic had our national leadership been up to the challenge. This leadership has been a failure in the best of times. Now our challenges are tall and our leaders are pygmies by comparison.

I know Pakistani businessmen who made fortunes out of providing uninterrupted high-value services to the banking industry who are forced now to contemplate migration because they are losing hope. Their incomes are intact but it is the quality of their lives in Pakistan’s biggest city that they are concerned about.

The military institution is strong and is capable of holding Pakistan’s stability and integrity despite the alarm and the unanswered questions over how our situation deteriorated over the past four years and how our homeland has become exposed to multiple foreign players wreaking havoc here, not to mention why we have allowed ourselves to blindly trust one superpower with our interests.

The military can and will prevail over the threats facing us for the time being, but who will assume the challenge of reviving the national spirit, remodeling national politics and initiate the hard task of making Pakistan an attractive place for its citizens?

The political parties are unmitigated failures and cannot run a democracy. None of these parties today has a national agenda. Most of them have shrunk into narrow regional or ethnic interests. None of them has a working party system that produces leaders since most of these parties operate as one-man shows or as family-run businesses in their most primitive forms. If handed over power tomorrow morning, there is hardly any party out there that can come up with better plans or policies than the one currently in office.

And while this failure continues, the ethnic-based provincial division of the state is turning every administrative issue into an ethnic flashpoint. Some politicians and political parties are manufacturing ethnic tensions for political gain. Foreign players are exploiting this and courting separatism in Pakistan as a vehicle for pushing their own interests. It is an irony that there isn’t a single political party in Pakistan today that raises the flag of Pakistani nationalism. …

But these are fallouts. The strings are still in our hands and no one can mess with us if we put our house in order. But who will do it in Pakistan?

If the political parties are unable to produce leaders, we cannot wait for them forever to do so. We in Pakistan do not have the luxury of time. The time for this was the 20 th century when nations took their time to develop their national systems. We wasted that opportunity. Both an elected civilian leader and a military ruler – Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Ayub Khan – made good starts but messed up in the end.

To move forward, Pakistan needs a new deal for the 21 st century. And this deal cannot come through the ballot for the foreseeable future. Our best chance is for Pakistan’s best and brightest – outside the realm of our failed parties and a failed system – to step forward with a plan to remodel the state, change the constitution and create an environment for real political parties to grow and prosper. This is the only way left to bring capable and creative civilian administrators to power. Such a civilian administration can and must borrow the support of the military institution for such a grand project of national rebuilding.

As we make a final push to expel a failed war encroaching into our territory in our northern and western regions, the wider national perspective must not be missed. A vibrant, creative and emerging Pakistan is still possible. But for this to happen, Pakistan’s thinking classes, the media and the public opinion will have to support creative out-of-the-box thinking.

The time to stop the rot is here. Let’s not become the worst managers of one of the world’s best pieces of real estate.

Related Articles:

Pakistan: Living in Denial

‘Women’s Rights’ in Afghanistan – Code for Occupation

Al Qaeda Fostering a Cosmic War

Al Qaeda Fostering a Cosmic War

Pakistan Must Find its Own Solution to the Taliban Scourge

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