democracy, Economic Survey, Economy, Human Development, International Relations, Islam, justice, Pakistan, Pakistan flood 2010, Political Parties, Poverty, Taliban, Terrorism
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Is Another Pakistan Possible?: A young Graduate’s Perspective

This is a post by our new internee, Sonia Khan, who is a masters in Anthropology. This is how a young Pakistani sees her country. This is her view point and she will be encouraged if readers comment and make suggestions.
The chaos in which Pakistan is today, we all know about it. Overpopulation, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, inflation, food crises, energy crises, provincial disparity, political instability, religious extremism, and terrorism. You name it we have got it.
Though, our current situation is worse than ever; but in spite of all that do we think that another Pakistan is possible? Or we could take this country to the level where many developed countries are today? 

Yes, we can! We can make this country a livable place by determining the root causes of these problems. And the one major problem which lies in the root of all these issues is the bad governance; if we have a strong and democratic government, by people who are uncorrupt and single mindedly dedicated, we can certainly make this country a better one.

Apparently this is a democratic country but democracy is what that is missing in Pakistan. The ruling elite rule the country to serve their own interests. India and Pakistan both had fought for the freedom. Both started anew and both had their new political system set up at that time. Both had been under the British rule for so many years. Both had gained independence simultaneously; so how is it possible for one to take a democratic route and the other not? India has remained a democracy for all its independent years and is succeeding while Pakistan, on the other hand, has always struggled for the democratic rule.

Democracy cannot flourish without political parties and political parties have always failed in our country. To start with they are not democratic themselves. Hereditary kingship like structures, family holdings or one man bands make the most of our political parties. These are neither run as efficient organizations, nor do they represent or serve the interest of proverbial common man. We have faced three wars, suffered many leaderships and most importantly separation of our eastern part, now Bangladesh, all because of the sins of omission and commissions by our governments.

We have all the things that a country needs to have; that India has. Then why we cannot progress as our neighboring countries are. Look at China and India. What we need here is the sincere, honest and democratic leadership. All the problems can be solved if we have democracy in our country and if our rulers stop ruling the country according to their own interests and work for the betterment of the country and root out the main problems which are a hindrance in the way of progress.

This is a known fact that over two-thirds of the world’s 785 million illiterate adults are found in only eight countries and Pakistan is one of them. Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan are the countries where literacy rates are extremely low. It is shameful that almost half of the population of the 6th largest country is deprived of the basic education.
The very first priority for our governments should be to focus on education. Human Capital is the foundation for development. World has entered into the 21st century. It has made so many astonishing advancements in the field of technology. This has become a technological world; where technology has made the human lives easier in every field. All this is the result of education. Education also leads to awareness about one’s rights, tolerance, open mindedness, understanding and willingness to accommodate various view points; all fundamental to facilitation of a democratic mindset in the society.

We should promote education as much as possible as it is considered as a cheapest defense of a nation. Literacy is always been a key factor in the development of a country. But our government has always ignored it; education is the worst affected sector in Pakistan. Our education system is based on inequality. Education is different in public and private sectors. There is a wide gap between private and public institutes. Those who cannot bear the expense of private schools send their children to public ones where education is not up to mark.  Poverty, regional disparity, lack of technical education and trained teachers, and biasness in the educational institutions are the main issues that relates to illiteracy. Moreover, allocation of funds for education is very low. It is only 1.5 to 2.0 percent of the total GDP; it should be around 7 percent of the total GDP.

Government has announced a new education policy but the need of the hour is to focus on the implementation of those policies rather than making or projecting it. They should introduce various technical institutes and workshops for the teachers and the students. They should understand that reading books does not mean acquiring education, burdening the students with a load of books will not of use as they will not understand what is going around the world or what the world is going to do the next moment. Further, female education is a crucial factor.

In our country, in many areas women are restricted to their home. There is a misconception that women are made for managing the household chores and it is only a man’s duty, or even a prerogative, to go outside and earn for the family. We are still living in old and backward traditions by restricting women to home. We should know the fact that the society cannot progress by restricting half of the population in the abyss of ignorance and in the maze of unjustified limits. When our religion does not stop women to acquire education then who are we to stop them?

This is the time to bring awareness to the people, to take them out from the ignorance, to make them realize the importance of women’s education. Countries like US and UK are developed because their people are educated. Their women are working side by side with men. But here in the name of Islam women have been limited to homes. There are certain vested elements in the society, the religious class, who are doing this on purpose and interpreting Islam in their own way.

This problem has got particularly worse in 1980s, with a rapid increase in Madressahs in the country, which gave prominence to different sects and groups. These groups almost exclusively men, interpret Islam according to their patriarchal interests,  that results in extremism and oppression of women, whereas Islam preaches equality and it gives equal chance to men and women in every walk of life. We as Muslims should have a complete knowledge of Islam so that we can explain it to those who have misconceptions about it.

Islam is a complete system; it has rules and regulations to follow. It demands no extremism, no killing and no subjugation of women. It only demands peace, tolerance and equality of rights irrespective of class, religion, color and race. We achieved this country as a Muslim State and it is the second biggest Muslim country in the world. The institution of religion should be strong here and there should be the application of Islamic ideas in every walk of life so that there can be no place for sects, religious groups and extremism in the name of Islam.

The condition of our country is getting worse day by day. We have to face food and energy crises in spite of the fact that our country is a land of agriculture and full of natural resources.  Certain nefarious elements in the society, who have political backing of the rulers and are part of the ruling elite, are involved in creating the shortage of food. They have made a monopoly on wheat and sugar industries, while on the other hand Lack of technology, fragile infrastructure and limited financial resources are the hurdles in utilizing the natural resources.

Pakistan has the best natural resources of the world. It has one of the biggest coal reserves in the world. According to Pakistan Economy Watch the coal deposits in Thar can change the fate of the country if utilized in a proper way. It can save oil import bill, reduce unemployment and help strengthen economy, rupee and forex stocks. Dr Murtaza Mughal president of Pakistan Economy Watch in a statement said that 185 billion tunes of coal worth USD 25 trillion can not only cater the electricity requirements of the country for next 100 years but also save almost four billion dollars in staggering oil import bill. Moreover, exploration by government agencies as well as by multinational mining companies and various regional geological surveys, conducted in the recent past have confirmed the great potential of Pakistan in the metallic minerals like copper, gold, silver, platinum, chromites, iron, lead and zinc.

There is certainly a chance for creating a new and a better Pakistan. This is the time when we can show the bright side of Pakistan to the world, what we need is to have a strong democratic rule in our country. If our rulers stop ruling the country according to their own selfish interest and work for the country’s interest and take solid steps to demolish the social evils, and put a stop to the rising terrorism then the situation can be changed.

Another fundamental we need is rule of law. If the institution of education and law gets strong in a country then other institutions will ultimately get better. If we have a justified and a transparent system free from prejudices and biases, our situation will certainly be changed as we have all the natural resources and strong people to start a new era. Rule of law allows for the economic and democratic growth.

The primary role of the government is to make sure that all the laws are carried out in the country or not, and if not then to ascertain what are the factors or the elements that are responsible for that. There should be a strong justice system in a country. If we do not have the strong system, evils, corruption, crimes and terrorism continues to prevail in the society.

From the individual to the political level, everyone should perform their duty honestly then there is a likelihood of improvising the situation. We cannot always blame government for not taking serious issues into consideration or not taking care of the masses. We have to see ourselves too before blaming others. Yes, it is our government’s duty to solve all the big issues, but there are the issues that we individuals can solve. And this we can do by performing our duty honestly as a civilized citizen.

There is no need of highlighting the duties of a citizen as we all know about it and we have been reading it in our books from the primary level. We know what our duties are; we just need to perform it. We blame the system for corruption but we are the one who give rise to corruption. We bribe police when we break the signal. We bribe administration when we do not get admission in the institutes or universities. We bribe employers to get the job. There are so many examples when we forget our roles and do not hesitate in choosing the wrong path for the fulfillment of our needs. Sometimes by doing so we snatch away the opportunities from those who are more eligible and needy than us. We take away their rights for our own interests but when this happens to ourselves we blame the system. We are the one who makes it and we are the one who ruins it. And we ruin it when we give authorities to those who are ineligible.

The question that now arises is that when we have the power to choose the person for the leadership then why we always select those, who are incapable to perform their duties fully?  When the time comes why do we forget, why we overlook all their past deeds and give them another chance? We have seen them ruling us and we know what they did to us and know what they will do in future then why don’t we use our power appropriately? This is the matter of our lives. When we elect someone, it means we give him the right to rule us. Why we make the same mistakes again and again? We should learn from our past experiences and should give chance to those who are educated and capable of leading the country, who can work for those who had elected him.

But then the blame also lies with the educated and professional classes who have vacated the space in politics to be usurped by the narrow minded, selfish people who rule us now. We are in a state of turmoil for past many decades now and the situation is getting worse day by day. The need of the time is to have the good governance, a savior class of citizens that can change the fate of the country and of the citizens as well and that can take the country to the right path, and work for the country’s interest and who just not only become the ruler but act like a one.

Here are five fundamentals, which I think that if we follow then definitely another Pakistan is possible. Firstly, there is a need of renaissance of Islam. There should be complete understanding of the teachings of Islam. We need to study it in its present context. Secondly, there should be a rule of law and justice throughout the country. Thirdly, education sector should be strong here as it is the foundation of any society. Fourthly, attitude towards people should be positive, there should be no division on the basis of class, status or race as our religion also prohibits it, equal opportunities should be provided to all and Fifthly, we should use the power of vote rightly, elect those in whom we see the potential who are capable to lead this country, who not only enjoy the perks but perform the main duty as well.


  1. Aamir Habib says

    Good thoughts and valuable findings. overall a good attempt as a beginner. well in our society lots of question are raised but it is not as simple to raise as to answer them. Sonia has dared to answer some but there are still hurdles behind hurdles where we need to take some organized moves.. like renaissance of our religion are any faith in a country where ratio of education is very low. and within that low ratio the level of intellectual input is either rare or not found at all, is not a simple wish to come true. secondly it is all time confusion that who will decide that what is true and what is false.. education is undoubtedly a priority need but hunger beats it in this competition. governance is not in faithful hands while faithful hands are not ready take the responsibility.

    Anyhow good thoughts always get great attention and attention makes a way to give say to those thoughts. we should not wait for a great change at once. our individual and practical contribution to these type of thoughts will bring about a positive and drastic change. if we all who feel concerned start doing what we feel is good for society and propagate it by action too then no one can stop to reach the idea of another Pakistan. however if I by myself merely stand with words and do nothing to make it concrete, I should not expect any change from others..

    best wishes for sonia..

    Aamir Habib Soomro

  2. shermeen says

    Enlightening and Very nicely done!

    Many problems identified here including that of corruption, population, unemployment, etc exist in many, if not all developed countries as well. We are no exception. The question then has to be a different one. Do we want to be where other developed countries are? Is there only one way towards civilization? Why not take this opportunity to create our own pathway towards development and set our own standards.

    I agree that education is the answer to our national predicament. But it has to be an education system that builds from our own knowledge base. The present dual education system (matric and Cambridge) for instance, is exactly what serves the interests of the foreign political actors. If knowledge is the modern tool of control, we want it to be in the hands of our nation. And only then will we build a culture compatible with development, a state that is democratic with citizens who are responsible and hardworking.

    I found an interesting statement in the article and would like to comment on it. “We are still living in old and backward traditions by restricting women to home”. Traditional is not always synonymous with backward and old. It is only if we judge our society according to the ineffectual parameters of western modernity. The important thing is that both, men and women contribute positively to the society and in that they should have the freedom to choose. Let us not belittle the contribution of any; women who stay at home (many with their own will), men who work hard to support their families and the women who earn their living.

    The challenges we face are many. Yet, we are a nation that has suffered worse but survived. Pakistan is possible because it continues to face up to the challenges. So let us for a change, give ourselves a pat on the back.

  3. Aftab Alam says

    A very commendable effort by a youngster like you. It’s really translating the heart of a sensitive citizen of Pakistan who wants betterment and is optimistic too. The enhancement in education system/statistics and women empowerment solves a big fraction of the problem. But here I also want to comment and request people who feel themselves as the regulatory and decisive authority for their women to go for their development or not; “PLEASE LET THEM”. Don’t restrict them to the household only, because even that is swelling up into problems more weird than letting them have the experience of life in a more practical way. On the other hand I also want to request women who have had this opportunity/liberty to go practical for their personal development and supporting their families before and after marriage, that please do not sacrifice the responsibilities that you are naturally and genetically good at, and that is your home, your parents, your children and if you don’t mind, your husband and parents-in-laws. Out of these I’ll nominate children on preferential basis. If your personal development and ambition to support your family is giving a spoiled lot of citizens to the society then would you feel good to add this to your achievements.

    OK “he can look after the children too” … “He can cook too” … “He can wash too” … “Even he has the responsibility towards his parents, why me only”…. All yells held valid, no woman should find herself alone in doing these things, but as you are assisting him economically while the prime responsibility lies with him, so should he assist you in household while the prime responsibility should lie with you. He can’t be better than you to bathe your baby while you have an additional edge to bathe your bedridden mother-in-law. So when he is downsized/kicked out of his job, he has numerous ways to earn livelihood for the family as compared to you when you loose your job for any reason, where harassment being at top. The solution lies in understanding the genetic trade off rather persisting the Men Vs Women cold war with a pseudo ceasefire with phrases like, “I’ll do what I feel like and you do what pleases you”… “Your food lies in the microwave if you are feeling hungry, otherwise put it back into the refrigerator”… “I don’t care what you do after office hours, but keep her away of my children” …

    If your mother-in-law has not been able to groom your husband to behave like the way you wanted him, you can at least groom your son to be a helping hand to his mother, his sister and his wife. So instead of hitting the steel made feudal husband to melt, try to retain the soft flesh made babies to be helpful and respectful, but that means quality time spent with them.

  4. sonia says

    thanks for your comment and Good thoughts sir! if everyone of your gender think like that then it will definitely improve the situation.

    I agree with your point Sharmeen that traditional is not always synonymous with backward and old but you know that in many cases, people in the name of traditions exploit and subjugate women and keep them away of any kind of the exposure of empowerment and then insist on sticking to those “traditions”. This is unjust when done with this intention.

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