Pakistan has been in turmoil for a long time now. Embroiled in political, ideological, social and economic chaos, I hope that the year 2013 will be the beginning of peace, enlightenment and prosperity in Pakistan. To move towards betterment, I, as a Pakistani, propose fourteen SHOULDS on this occasion that I promise can change the course of our country but also require paradigmatic changes in our national priorities. Here goes the list:
1. Education should be at the top of our priority list with at least 20 percent of our annual budget spent on providing quality education to the people of Pakistan.
2. As a sage once said, ‘If you want to see the condition of a nation, see the condition of the teacher.’ So teachers should be the most valued (in the real sense of the word) people in the country.
3. Our hospitals should be our second principal priority after education.
4. We should make every effort to establish complete peace with our neighbouring countries including our arch-rival India. In this regard we can learn from European countries such as Germany, France, and the UK.
5. We should devote ourselves to spreading a network of playgrounds in every city, town and village of our country.
6. There should be a network of libraries, packed with books, magazines and journals and keeping with the pace of technological advancement, equipped with computers in every city and town.
7. There should be immediate and complete ban on pressure horns on roads and streets and gradually the ban should come down to eliminating honking at all. Of course people need to be educated through electronic and print media against the indiscriminate use of horns and other sources of noise pollution in our environment.
8. There should be a centrally administered system of mosques in the country. The Imams should be at least secondary school graduates besides their religious qualifications and should be recruited by the local administrative authority. They should be paid adequately for their services with the help and cooperation of the local community. The Friday sermons and teaching of these Imams should be monitored and they should be educated to present the peaceful, inclusive, humanitarian face of religion to the people .This will guard against the tendency among some of them of turning religion into sectarianism, extremism and the resultant violence.
9. Democracy should be embraced, nurtured and practiced in the true sense of the word. Practical efforts should be made to take the power concentration out of the feudal class and to bring it down to the reach of the common people. The first challenge in this regard is for political parties to become truly democratic and shun hereditary and dictatorial practices prevalent inside their ranks. Our armed forces should once and for all decide not to ever interfere in our political system and confine themselves to barracks .Let us for the coming thirty years, at least, try democracy without interference in its true essence.
10. A Pakistani nationalism based on an international, humanitarian philosophy should be nurtured through a nationwide system of inclusive education. The purpose should be to broaden the horizons of the Pakistani youth to feel a part of the rest of the world instead of becoming paranoia to unseen enemies. The concept of positive national ego should be promoted to upbring an independent youth that relies on itself rather than seek helping hands in times of difficulties.
11. Strength in terms of economic and social development should be our primary goal driving our national policies and not just military might and our capability for destruction. Live and let live should be our motive from now onwards if we really want to continue to exist and flourish in the comity of nations in the twenty first century.
12. Rigorous measures should be taken to control our dangerously growing population, which is already beyond our means. Poverty, illiteracy, ignorance and misinterpretation of religion are main sources of this menace. The role of religious leaders is of special importance in this regard.
13. An important indicator of the degree of civilization of a society is the way women are treated in it. Women emancipation through a process of education and awareness among the masses should be one of our top priorities. Pakistani women are exemplary in their devotion to their families and the welfare of those around them and this extraordinary source of our strength must be taped by giving them their due place in the social, economic and political spheres of our national life.
Again the role of religious leaders is of primary importance in this regard; many of whom unfortunately confine the role of women to domestic chores. These religious leaders consciously or unconsciously use their enormous clout as opinion makers against the economic and social freedom and autonomy of our women. This trend needs to be changed and women be brought into our national life as equal partners and stakeholders.
14. We should, as a nation, make it a core principle of our national ethos that a society cannot live for long in the presence of injustice and endemic corruption. It should, therefore, be one of the top-most priorities to clean up corruption in our legal, administrative and political system, to have an independent, well-paid judiciary and an excellent, efficient and corruption-free police force.
P.S: Seems a loony’s dream? Well, maybe, but this country was a dream before its birth, a dream of hope and peace and prosperity before it was turned, by the monsters who ruled it for years on, into a nightmare for its inhabitants. And with the positive energies of our youth, can once more, we have the beginning of a noble dream and a lovely reality.