One of my previous columns dealt with an overview of our national psyche and generated a deluge of mails from the readers. Many of these were angry critics who were of the view that the Pakistani nation was great and above any criticism, especially in the context of national psyche. These readers were perfectly entitled to their opinion, for without such inputs I would not be able to introspect and correct my faults.
One of the conclusions that caused me grave concern was that a large segment of Pakistanis refused to acknowledge that their symptoms were pointing to their ‘demise’ and those who were cognisant of this reality, were so far gone that they could not turn back. This then was the reason that whenever those who bore us no goodwill showed us the mirror and accused us of being a failed society, we reacted with anger and blind condemnation. In our bid to defend ourselves against such criticism, we overlooked the fact that the world judged us from outside the box and even if such judgment originated from a point of origin that had its own agenda, similar opinions were voiced countless times by other sources.
We also consistently failed to comprehend that unless we came to terms with harsh realities related to us as a nation, we would never be able to redress our shortcomings. It would, perhaps, have been a different matter if our leaders were committed to nation building, but they too came from the same stock and were equally afflicted by the disease. From an indisputable viewpoint, it was, perhaps, an ideal case of ‘nations getting the leaders they deserve’.
Nonetheless, we individually and collectively need to become whole in order to survive, but this cannot be done under the present dispensation nor if the same faces come into power for another term. Who then shall be our deliverer? The answer has always been there staring us right in the face. It is we the nation that will initiate its own cure or die. What then will it take to awaken the will to initiate this cure? Will the trigger be more dismemberment, loss of sovereignty or total anarchy or will it be the sight of our families and loved ones engulfed in mortal danger?
The above possibilities are not the ravings of a pessimist, but scenarios dictated by how things stand today. A piece by piece dissection of this environment will reveal that we are now in the grip of a bear trap - one jaw of which is descending upon us from without, while the other is threatening us from within, in a choreographed manoeuver with us acting as the willing prey.
On the internal front, we have armed unrest in Balochistan, a low intensity conflict in the KP tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and a restive northern area. We are also afflicted by terrorism based on religious extremism and ethnicity. The situation is exacerbated by poor law and order, economic deprivation and a callous political dispensation. Externally, we are stuck between India in the east, an unreliable western neighbour and a western superpower that bode us no good.
Our enemies appear to have understood our psychology better than ourselves. They have involved us in internal strife, which is fuelled as and when it shows signs of flagging and more importantly, they have lulled us into an apathetical state so that we have gone into an opium-like stupor that takes us far from reality and dulls cognisance of the looming danger.
What form this cure should take is a point that generates much drawing room discussion these days. I am disinclined (rather reluctantly) to support those that advocate use of street power to force a change, for this carries the possibility of spinning out of control. In my reckoning, the best revolution is through the power of the ballot. If we follow the pattern of voting in the last six decades of our existence we find the turn-out figures fluctuating between 30 to 40 percent. It must be understood that change will only be initiated if the vast majority that stays away from polling stations, turns out and exercises its right of franchise. This ‘majority’ in so doing, will go down in history as deliverers and earn the eternal gratitude of fellow countrymen.
n The writer is a freelance columnist.