An eternal Kingdom and a chance at immortality have an intoxicating allure for men. They make bad choices in these quests. After all it was the Devil’s offer of immortality and eternal kingdom (The Holy Quran, 20:120), that got Adam and his kind sent to Earth. In our political context, we can have numerous complaints about the bad choices made by our two last PMs and the National Assembly.
Last week, the lights have been turned off once again at the National Assembly. For how long, we just do not know yet. The 15th National Assembly passed 232 Bills. That’s an average of 47 bills each year. Interestingly, it’s a near equal split in the number of bills between the longer term of PTI and sixteen months of PDM. Both PMs from this Assembly, according to FAFEN, had disappointing presence of less than 20% during their respective rules. A university student won’t get to sit in the semester’s final exam with such poor attendance, but these standards do not apparently apply to our politicians.
It was the dawn of another 14th August earlier this week. Ceremonial gun salutes took place. But was this 14th August better than the last? Are the people happier in the abundance of joy around them? Or economically more prosperous than before? Or our governance systems provisioning better services and have improved their coverage over the previous year? The answers to these define the nation’s current mood and not the tax funded dramatics and sloganeering on the TV.
Our Interim PM was also sworn in this week. If media reports are to be believed, this one’s come straight from the earlier proposed golf trials. Incoming interim government already has a sanctified feel to it, when it starts of on the 14th August. For the last PM and his associates, it may be the longest political walk of shame to the next General Elections, one they chose for themselves.
The other and seemingly more popular option PTI and its Chairman, are going through their own set of consequences of omission and commission. The Great Khan sold off the dream of Naya Pakistan for far less than the reported 190 million pounds from a property dealer. Many ordinary men and women, who stand with the cause of PTI, are actually the historically neglected and under privileged children of our state who are fighting for their rights under the PTI’s flag. They will move to another flag that resonates with their causes when it comes forth. Thus, the political challenge isn’t going away without addressing the causes.
"How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree?)" a popular song from 1940’s is resonating in and around us everyday. Our youth is more than half of the population surrounded by the insufficiency in everything that is starring them in the eye. On the other hand, they have access to TikTok, Instagram and other social media platforms. While their dream of a fair and prosperous Pakistan may already be dead, their lives and aspirations are being drawn, shaped and driven by what they see on these platforms. Their attempts at escaping through illegal routes or in many cases through the formal channels are a proof of their disconnection and distrust in the society they live in.
Outside Pakistan, our region and the world are also changing. There are indications of rapprochement between all sides in the Persian Gulf. Other comparable developments are taking place to our east and afar. We were brought up believing in our strategic location as the key to our future prosperity. After all a plot with an open sea facing front (read Arabian Sea), with extra land on one side (read Afghanistan), located near the main boulevard (read Strait of Hormuz) and, across an affluent neighborhood (Middle East), with rich and powerful neighbors to the North and East, wasn’t a bad marketing strategy in geo- political context. But it hasn’t worked for us. And it has changed a long time ago. It, thus, is high time to change this perspective! And to focus on our people!
Pakistan’s children need a cause, an aspiration and a dream to relate to this country. If the state doesn’t give it, someone else will. But the state and political masters are too busy in their quests of political eternity.
And if the future freedoms for these young and the children will be without ability to speak their minds, or opportunities to grow and blossom, lets at least create numerous compulsory vocational programs so they can be exported as trained labor to Middle East and beyond. Let us give them the tools so they can compete with other nationalities rather than taking the illegal routes and jobs. Maybe this way we can get some more good dollars and also get rid of the trouble and mischief they may cause.
Let the next year be about profound introspection. Let us make the next twenty-five years about the people and their achievements. Let us choose to look and work towards Pakistan’s 100th Anniversary when people my age will be signing off from our working lives. The generation before us is not in the mood of giving up as yet, and looking for more chances. Maybe it’s a time to nudge them out for the sake of our children.
Let us decide to create a better future, not driven by our definitions of Mera, Naya, Purana or Humara Pakistan, but by pragmatic social and economic reasoning. By the way these names sound just like numerous Butt Karahi’s, Shinwari’s or Mian Jee Hotels on GT Road between Lahore and Islamabad, and are not suited for my country.
And yet if we decide to carry on with the business as usual, then let us chant at the top of our voices: The Dream Maybe Dead, But Long Live The...! But please remember this time it may cost a political throne instead of going away quietly!