Every country faces ups and downs during its struggle to retain its momentum of “cultural output”; this term is used by sociologists to define civilization. Civilization is a process which helps a man to increase its cultural output but our cultural freedom was halted, many decades ago. Pakistan was never an easy country to deal with even by its own leaders. Reasons are many from leaderless initial decade to just “in name” democracy. From corruption to talibanization, many obstacles became the cause of shade that did not allow Pakistan to enlighten itself.
Terrorism – a word that is now known to every third of human being could have been remained a word for Pakistan but our incapability and shortsightedness did not let us to think about its effects on generations. The issue could have been controlled and 60 thousand lives might be saved if we did realize that threat is internal not external especially after 9/11.
We decided to use religion so that easy manpower would be available to accomplish goals but as said by Newton”every action has a reaction”. The ideology that we had infused in empty minds has become a decisive force against us.
The country was doing well in decade of 90’s but after war on terror in Afghanistan – a mindset became venomous for Pakistan and result came with Taliban. The result came up with suicide attacks, target killings and hardcore religious mindset.
Terrorism reached to peak in 2008-12 but came down with the start of long awaited military operation by new military leadership. The dialogue to counter Taliban with negotiation was never a good idea but political pressure did not let Government to go by military side.
Although with military operation in North Waziristan, much of terrorism has been reduced. Terrorism incidents have been lowered to 95 % as compared to earlier rate. Well, till now, the terrorists are hitting the places to maintain menace and terror of their abilities. Peshawar school attack that changed the counter terrorism dynamics in Pakistan was happened during military operation and now Mardan University was also showed the flaws in our fight against terror. Lahore terror attack challenges the security situation again and the south Punjab fate is again question less.
Now, where we are? National action plan is still seem nowhere if we took into consideration the military opinion. Provisional governments are blaming each other while military leaders have already alarmed with the weak implementation strategy in the press release of November core commander’s conference. Corrupt politicians, incompetent bureaucracy and lack of dare & vision are the causes for such below average performance on NAB. Action against banned outfit is a nightmare. Madarassa registration again has to be sidelined after pressure of political religious parties. Countering terrorism on financial and social media fronts is waiting for professional manpower to start the process as already dominant civil law enforcement agencies are good for filling pockets only.
External challenges are hitting us as the heat of Middle East fire can be felt with the ISIS announcement of Khurasan province and appointing one the former commander of banned Tehrek e Taliban Pakistan as its chief to spread the agenda in Pak Afghan area. India Pakistan relation are in turmoil as always, some responsibility has been seen after Pathankot attack, however on actual ground there is no fruitful output for common people. Pakistan showed some maturity by trying to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia; as always Saudi Arabia turned the ear towards us while Iran still doubts our intentions because of our historical inclination towards Saudi Arabia. Pak- Afghan border has yet not stabilized; Taliban who are considered under the influence of Pakistan have been divided among various fractions and every effort by Pakistan for political settlement is going in waste. The rogue and anti Pakistan elements are playing pro India role to sabotage any effort for comprehensive partnership between India and Pakistan. Iran Pakistan gas pipelines project that was the only hope for rehabilitating the weak relation between Iran and Pakistan again did get enough attention and Government decided to import LNG from Qatar.
Economically, we are in stress as the gradual increase of defense spending did not let the economy to take breath in versatile environment. Tax exemption scheme did not work in way, it was conceived and FBR has failed to bring the non tax filers to tax net. Privatization is halted again; the PIA matter is still unsolved and an illusion prevails with the start of parallel air company Pakistan Air ways. Government has assured the International monitory fund to privatize sick departments but no one knows, why they are waiting or they are failed in front of political opposition. IMF’s 6.6 billion $ program worked to some extent in stabilizing economy. The government on its front did seem successful in minimizing its spending and corruption scandals are hitting media screens each day.
This kind of situation is not new for world as mostly developing nations have to pass such debacles. The need is to put Pakistan on the right road.
Now, we are on a decisive edge in our history; here we need to answer the question that were overturned in early years, which eventually lead Pakistan to ideological vacuum. Extremism has hit the country and religious leader have made the use of use of religion to remain in popular media light. The national action plan is a correct tool to minimize the extremism in country if it is implemented in letter and spirit. Before that, the media, establishment and govt. opinion was never so unanimous to tackle extremism and curb the elements that use religion for their own agenda. The government should stop the banned outfits working; it was mentioned that outfits will not be allowed to work with another name, once banned but they are here between us each day, daring govt. to touch them. It is the best time to use turn hands against them. Some months before, the PM had used the word “modern” and liberal for the future Pakistan. The religious elements were strongly criticized the approach of PM; Also women protection bill passed by the Punjab assembly added fuel to fire. The religious parties have known the government’s intention to bring out Pakistan from the menace of religious extremism. They vowed to stop every step in keeping the society modern, they are all now make an umbrella struggle against protection bill because they know if government changed the national culture, in this direction, they will find no space as they are using religion for their agenda. Amazingly, the Punjab government refused to take back bill.
This is a decisive point; the government has to stick on the bill because it is passed by representative assembly of 100 million bill and these religious leaders have no authority to dictate us.
Madrassa registration and increasing control over religion will help in stabilizing society from extremism. He control over Friday sermon is necessary on the style of Saudi Arabia and Middle East, as the religion will not be allowed to used for personal gains; the extremism will not flourish.
On the economic front; we are still not out from hot waters but yes! The situation is quiet better as compared to previous government. Government should get rid of white elephants as politics in department has damaged their credibility and performance. The tax payer’s money is not for paying the salaries of over populated government institutions. The government should start with privatization of PIA and before 2018 steel mill should be given to private control as its not seem possible to manage these departments’ with government control even former employees of steel mill has cleared the fact.
Tax net has to be widening on any cost and indirect taxes are not a viable option as the people don’t have enough space to provide extra to fill gap. Our military budget rose to 11 % in the last fiscal years and if anyone thinks that the budget will remain on its current figure after the completion of operation Zarb e Azab, he has to see the activities in the Arabian Sea and the new strategic naval game, this is hitting our sea doors. Sooner or later, we have to invest on our navy to maintain the minimum balance on coastal side that would require extra defense spending. If the tax sphere will not cover the rich elite, the common public will have face the music of defense spending that again will result in public unrest against civilian government.
Yes! Indeed both Pakistan and India have shown maturity in recent past. After the Pathankot attack, Pakistan condemn the attack, this was the first gesture of its kind and Indian Government gave the permission of Pak JIT to visit the Pathankot base (the team was having an ISI member) and played the greatest political gambit in indo- Pak relation. The capture of Indian spy and Indian involvement in Baluchistan will remain the hurdle but the opportunity to reach any comprehensive plan to settle the core issues is more than the last governments. Both countries now know that friends can be change but neighbors can’t be. It is better to be late but should not be “too late” as the regional politics after the energy strategies demand long sightedness by both leaderships either civilian or military.
Like the pattern of heart beat on ECG machine, every country sees struggles like heart in its journey but only those remain, who endure the difficulties and never lose hope.
Pakistan has taken some steps and actually delineates itself from the path that was set in 80’s with radical religious approach. The military, media and public should help and encourage the government in any move to eradicate the extremism in society. We need to see the election campaign on the development issues, on energy, on employment not on “who is Muslim, who is not”. The religion must not be used as a tool to attract the people. Division on any grounds within the country’s boundary weakens it more than any nuclear threat from outside.
Once Z. A. Bhutto said in his speech that this nation will become “the iron of the world” – this is the time to decide. If we don’t want change then situation has to remain as it is but in case, we need a society free from corruption & extremism than we should act like the nations who brought out the seeds of these evil and burn them with rapid Human Development, Justice and corruption free governments. We have every quality to become the Asian tiger, the need is to unchained ourselves with social and economic evils.