Given the commendable role the electronic media as well as the emerging social media are playing to bring about mass awareness in the country, a more well-informed and better educated nation, increasingly concerned about its basic, fundamental rights, perturbed by the growing tensions in the country and watchful of every move made by the mainstream political parties, is only a natural outcome. As Abraham Lincoln said, you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. And much to the dismay of the age-old politicians, who were until a few years back all set to pass on their ‘family-centered, political legacies’ to the next generations, the time to fool the people of Pakistan has long gone.
In its “Country Profile – Pakistan” report published in 2005, the US Library of Congress admires the “remarkable flexibility and resilience” exemplified by the nation in these testing times, adding that “it is often difficult to tell if Pakistan is on the precipice of disintegration or on the verge of renewal.” When observed from a foreign perspective, it might be difficult to foretell what lies ahead for the country; if seen in light of the record-breaking levels of corruption, foreign debt and poverty, the stats interpret a catastrophic outcome, but a deliberate analysis of the current and past turmoils carried out from the eyes of a nationalist (read: idealist) reveals a different side to the story: that success lies just around the corner.
In Pakistan, the winds of change blew so rapid that they took everyone by surprise. No wonder why the pro-change factions of the society — and PTI being on their forefront — term this changing of mindsets to have enjoyed the ‘backing of the Almighty’. PTI was an unheard of party neglected and mocked at by the mafias that reigned the country for decades. Today the same mafia is at loss of words and short of conspiracies to counter the ‘pro-people forces’ that they reckoned had been silenced for good. Every passing day marks a new milestone, exposing the dirty works of those eager to stay in power longer than life.
For a nation that sought independence from the British nearly six decades back, the going had been tough all along. Had it not been for the countless resources and endless opportunities that the country offered, it would almost certainly have given in to the mala fide intents of every opportunist who rose to power and ruled the state. But the country satiated the successive civilian and military rulers’ lust for power and wealth among other ambitions, utilizing whatever was left of its looted resources and revenues to run the affairs and institutions of the state.
Amidst this degeneration of the state, the common man, inflicted with poverty and illiteracy, and divided on religious, ethnic and political grounds, had become virtually nonexistent. Unable to take charge of affairs in his own hands, he had no option but to rely upon every major upheaval that shook one government after the other, promising a ‘change’ but ending up paving the way for worse conditions ahead.
While these disturbances resulted in great divides and conflicts in the country, they also added to the experience of the society who had by then known better than to trust the political and military mafias vying for power. It is for this reason that Musharraf’s infamous decision to suspend the Chief Justice of Pakistan in 2005 was strongly opposed by the masses who ensured the reinstatement of the judiciary. It marked the beginning of a new era, and the people of Pakistan witnessed for the first time ever the collective strength exemplified in their efforts to restore the judiciary.
Independent judiciary and media are two key recipes for change; but a third actor also needs to assume central position: a transparent, credible and capable leadership that enjoys the mandate of the people and seeks to serve the masses. Interestingly, the judiciary and media have played a key role in exposing every political group, making it simple for the masses to determine the only nationalist that fits the picture.
For any nation to determine the performance and efficacy of a government, certain standards or parameters need to be fixed. Inspired by the dreams of one leader, the nation today sets high benchmarks that without doubt, the current ruling elite in Punjab and the federation cannot attain, given their exposed political ambitions. Above all, the nation demands a state in which all institutions are answerable to law. It also seeks free education for the masses. It demands the control of corruption from top down, devolution of power down to the root levels, and finally begs long-term solution for terrorism.