I am cold and lonely. Condemned to walk in an endless night, I am losing hope. I see no light, no end to my misery. I dream of waking up, I dream of the breaking dawn. To see the darkness unravel, to feel the warmth slowly embrace me. But when? A lifetime spent in search of that elusive sunrise. It still eludes me. I seethe against God for being so unkind. I fume, I fret. I give up in despair. I am not sure what worries me more at this point in my life. My own future or that of Pakistan. But I know for sure. I am because Pakistan is.
We can feel the balmy breeze caressing our faces. It may not be the screaming gust that knocks down but a gentle, soothing purr that pleases. We smell spring in the air though we can’t see flowers blooming. Change is wafting around, enveloping us slowly but surely. Perhaps it is the unleashed media, perhaps it is the overwhelming desire to procreate or perhaps it is the hibernating bourgeoisie that has been magically touched. We are living in exciting times and witnessing a beneficial confluence of forces that are threatening to overthrow the status quo.
Lately, the case of an increasingly independent judiciary is not to be dismissed out of hand as mere activism. Rise of judiciary will most importantly restore the balance of power among the power centers. Will this happen overnight? No. We will be wading through turbulent waters before we see land. The detractors can talk endlessly about the corruption and stasis plaguing the lower judiciary and there is indeed lot of truth to it. As the Chinese saying goes, fish start to rot in the headfirst. The converse may be true as well. Once the head (read higher judiciary) is able to stem the decay, a healthier body will be an inevitable consequence. Judiciary may have overstepped in its zeal to correct the burden of history, but its overall direction is not to be mistaken for aimless navigation in the woods of self-correction and redemption. The restoration of judiciary struggle was also a first in a way as it saw middle class, youth, and women all known for political hibernation coming out in droves to support CJ. Judiciary is in the process of defining its role in the modern Pakistan. A daunting task given the chaotic political environment and the tug of opposing forces within and outside our frontiers. Out of this chaos, order will emerge for sure.
Karl Marx once commented on the power of the middle class, “Historically, bourgeoisie played a revolutionary role in Europe”. The statement is no exaggeration, but a bare fact and if understood can be fully exploited. Middle class activism reared its head first during the restoration of judiciary struggle when educated, affluent urbanites physically joined the long March towards Islamabad. Support for PTI is the second authentic case of a middle class itching to wrest back the rightful political space. Regardless of how PTI performs in the elections, there is absolutely no denying that it has successfully galvanized a moribund segment of society into a political force of reckoning.
Once quoted, “The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible — and achieve it, generation after generation”. Pakistan is now experiencing its largest ever Youth Bulge. More than 50% of Pakistan’s male population is between 15 and 30. Only 4% are over 65. Using this Youth Bulge beneficially to drive economic activity is referred to as Demographic Dividend. This happens if investment is made in educating youth and then providing them job opportunities in specific economic areas. For eg, the rapidly growing economies of East Asia or Ireland, all experienced youth bulges that were used by governments for economic gains.
Lastly, our favorite mirror, the Pakistan media. Unlike the fabled mirror from Snow White, this mirror has been a ruthless reflection of the pain and disease plaguing Pakistan. The restored judiciary owes a lot to the untiring media that brought the march right into our living rooms. It is now playing a critical role in shaping public opinion, in bringing accountability to the rulers and most importantly in morphing an amorphous nation into something with distinct contours and edges. Yes, it is also afflicted with sensationalism, shameless greed to rake in rankings and money and the self-righteous demeanor of an all-knowing entity. But for all its faults and faltering, it remains a torchbearer doing the best it could to undo the darkness.
Concluding it, an assertive judiciary poking its nose in everything or an unbridled media or a middle class trying to shake off the political slumber, all indicate convalescence. How these developments interact with each other and other power centers over the next few years will determine the future of Pakistan. Yes, chaos too will hitch a ride on this bumpy odyssey. And yes cynics will have a lot to crib about. But I remain hopeful. I can go on. I wish to go on. There is so much more about my Pakistan that is good. Clichéd it may sound but truth it is. We have seasons. Hot summer fades into glorious winter, spring bids farewell to winter, beckons autumn and the romance goes on. We have rivers teeming with fish. Flora and fauna of innumerable kinds, verdant meadows, deserts and mountains and snow clad peaks. Above all we have a land that is our own, yours and mine. It will be what we make of it. Pakistan is here to stay.