Man is a social animal, but being so never meant that their dwelling is assured by the sheer lawlessness that prevails in the jungle. The dictum is binary in nature reflecting that the behaviour and actions are bound to acknowledge the socially set norms and values, although humans are selfishly visceral by nature. In order to subsist in a society hence demands them to obey and abide by the agreed upon consistent practices so that any deviation from accredited customs could easily lead to their thorough accountability irrespective of the social standing or cultural affiliation they hold. With the idea of societies, arises the phenomenon of standardised practices, the more the standardisation, the better will be the check and balance assured to keep the society prospering in a conducive manner. Societies that leave their mark on others are usually the one with best practices in almost all the domains of life, but this achievement is not an overnight marvel. These societies have strived hard to minimise the tussle between vested interests in comparison to the national interest. Though nationalistic fervour and patriotism is an innate feeling yet the true reflection is evident when a person takes the decision in the larger interest of society rather than based on personal motives. Systems gain momentum once they are allowed to go with the flow, the more fluent the system is, better will be the chances of the evolution of institutions out of this sustaining systematic approach.
Pakistan is blessed not only because of its God-gifted attributes but also due to its geo-politically important positioning. A country that is about to reach its 71st year of independence is still striving hard to overcome the core issues of health, education, political turmoil, lawlessness and above all terrorism. The fault lines in this regard lie in the absence of systematic mechanism to run the government, though the good governance slogan is often heard in political campaigns idealistically but never observed in reality. The wish to accumulate inestimable wealth and power has driven the legislature and executives mostly to achieve their vested interests rather than channelising all efforts to assure prosperity and growth of the country as a nationalist. The constant switching between civil and military governments and relatively long time without an independent country’s own constitution has wreaked this havoc.
The post-independence absence of Pakistani constitution for that long has downgraded the importance of the legislature and judiciary in general. Even to date, there are number of important offices that still follow British laws which is humiliating for a country that takes so much pride in its independence and celebrates it with such tremendous zeal and fervour. Even it is majority or minority, everyone is facing worst situation being the residents of this country due to prevailing lawlessness. The religious fanaticism of ‘us’ being right and ‘them’ being wrong has made the living situation for minorities even tougher. The powerful can easily blame the weaker over blasphemy allegations and absence of proper legislations provide these culprits a safe exit creating more ethnic troubles for a land that is already drowned in the sea of troubles.
Ethnicity aside even residents and children of this land that is our future, are unsafe and those butchers who threaten the future are protected by the powerful. The inability to institutionalise both legislature and judiciary has resulted in the prevalence of feeling that ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’ Instead of judicial institutionalisation, the country historically has seen a system within system in the form of judicial suspension of its Chief Justice too. The protests and riots following this event have dismantled the entire country’s justice system, infact, another system within national system rose to challenge both executive and legislature resulting in the mess for none other than masses. Along with that the constant switching from military to civil governments has not only mal-projected country on the international front but also has never let the democratic system flourish on firm footings. The country has even faced the fateful event of political victimisation as well as the assassination of two of its civil government prime ministers in the past.
In the seven long decades, the country has seen completion of only two civil government tenures, not to forget the last tenure being topsy-turvy and politically agitated. The politicians since inception are concerned with only pomp and show when it comes to the development sector thus pour massive amount of money in projects with infinite amount of the personal shares, all to be quoted boastfully in their next election campaigns to earn votes by fooling the masses. Education, health, and environmental sector are the most neglected areas because neither we have proper institutionalised legislature and judiciary nor self-less, nationalistic executive. The entire system has been corrupted from top to bottom so much so that whosoever gets the chance never misses the looting opportunity.
Apart from the complete absence of institutionalisation, one alarming type can be observed in the form of religious institutionalisation that recurred more prominently this year primarily because of executive and legislative incompetence. The religious party’s power show through sit-in in the federal capital few months ago is reflective of the fact that when your core institutions are crippled by the non-standardisation; such offshoots will assemble to dismantle the fabric of society for their vested interests. They, being sympathisers of the extremist faction, propagandistically misuse and manipulate religion never deeming that national or religious image is important for preservation on the international front. In fact, they provide the prospect to the violent non-state actors to bridge the gap that they cherish through wreaking havoc via terroristic activities nationwide, defaming the country’s name in general. The seeds sown during cold war times have plagued us in the present times and made us suffer by losing human as well as economic resources massively. If we are unable to curtail such tendencies and regrouping of the fanatic mental frame even in the present, chances are that we will face the same backlash in coming decades which God-forbid will act as a decisive blow to the security, existence and sovereignty of the country in particular.
Pakistani media in this regard has a crucial role to play. The pro-Pakistan advocacy campaign will act as a catalyst in bringing the desired change we are hoping for but instead of acknowledging that role our media is adding fuel to the fire of hatred, sectarianism, political upheaval and social unrest. The insensitive, insensible and uncensored projection of events based on their money mending corporate motives neglecting nationalism and sovereignty to the maximum has further maligned country’s image on the international level. The emergence of politically partisan media over the last few years has furthered the problem for the country in general. This partisanship of maligning one to prove the other party innocent, in general, is sabotaging the overall democratic coexistence of political rivals and in the end, resulting in earning bad repute for the country.
Media has a very crucial role to play by being completely impartial and sensitive to the national cause aimed at preserving the sovereignty of the state at all cost under any circumstances. To do so, international and local editions of print and electronic media must be made separately functional to categorise news through segregated editions. Setting aside the material benefits, mature and nationalistic media is therefore important to attain the image of peaceful Pakistan internationally.
The ‘Naya’ Pakistan mantra may sound very appealing when strategising political campaign but in reality, assuring the country’s reincarnated image is the most challenging task. The government actually will have to start from the scratch with the most limited resources to restructure the entire system and at least channelise all efforts in creating core institutions out of this systematic approach. The need of the hour is thus to establish institutions on such firm footing that existence of such anti-state, system within system and state within state factions be dealt iron-handedly by law, never given them room to practice their concocted socio-political and politico-religious ideology at any level. This can be firstly assured by adopting and protecting the accountability process for all irrespective of their title and social cadre. Once the new government is successful in routing judiciary, legislature, executive and media on the right track only then their dream of ‘Naya’ Pakistan will actually become a true reality making Pakistan a proud and a dignified nation respected by all.
—The author is a Doctoral Candidate of American Studies at the Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad and Senior Lecturer at the Communication and Media Studies Department, Fatima Jinnah Women University Rawalpindi