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April 12, 2016

Nurturing the soul


April 12, 2016

It was a stunning display of our military strength on March 23 this year. Tanks roared as they rolled, fighter planes thundered as they flashed on the horizon of Shakarparian, and troops chanted ‘Allah ho’ as they marched in unison in front of the Salami Chabotra.

The entire exercise was meant to reassure ourselves that we can confront any challenge despite all our odds. In a short period of six decades, we have made our security impregnable in terms of hard power but when it comes to building the nation that the Quaid had so earnestly desired, we have moved backwards. Work on the soul has not been as promising as it is on the body on display.

And the riots during Mumtaz Qadri’s chehlum proved how vulnerable and precarious our country’s law and order situation is. Leaders of religious outfits were seen inciting people against the state as if they were performing a sacred duty.

Nothing was spared. Metro stations and vehicles were set on blaze as were the containers placed as barricades. The mob pelted stones at buildings as a sign of defiance to the writ of the government. Since use of force at such occasions could backfire, the mob was allowed to wrestle until exhaustion.

We are like someone who is obsessed perpetually with how he looks and in order to make a good impression on others, spends a lot of time, energy, and money on activities that increase his social standing. This person is sensitive about his possessions, attire, and physique.

Since all this is the outcome of an inferiority complex, any amount spent on social conformity will not be called as lavishness or extravaganza. It is true that there is nothing wrong with increasing one’s social standing or improving one’s material wellbeing. The problem, however, is to focus too much on window-dressing at the cost of one’s inner core. It is sheer absurdity to do things that are harmful to health and character just to appease or please others.

Pakistan has a body and a soul; and the partition of the Indian subcontinent was neither demanded nor could it be justified in terms of geographical demarcation for Muslims. The demand for a separate homeland was premised on protecting the cultural identity of Muslims and safeguarding their economic interests.

The Congress leadership had proved time and again that Muslim could learn to reconcile themselves with the new ‘idol’ of religiously-inspired democracy. Unable and unwilling to live under slavery of another kind, the Muslims forced their way into independence but the independence euphoria in Pakistan soon evaporated after the feudal class took over the reins of power. Rather than working for public welfare and developing a culture of pluralism, the rulers manipulated religion and ethnicity to dominate power structures.

Despite a large amount of natural and human resources, Pakistan is one of the poorest and most indebted countries of the world. It cannot provide quality education and healthcare to its people. It cannot protect its citizens. Its survival as a strong federation is uncertain. And most painfully, there is no system in place to socialise the bulging youth population.

There is education in schools and madressahs without any emphasis on socialisation. Even parents are least bothered about how their children grow socially and intellectually. One can hardly find any institutional arrangement for guidance and mentoring available to teach children their responsibilities as good citizens. And the outcome is moral collapse.

Fake degrees, spurious medicine, adulterated food, rent-seeking, fraud, rape, and other social vices speak volumes for our collective failure to live up to some minimum standards as citizens of this country.

Instead of giving skewed attention to beautifying and strengthening the body, we need to be worried about our soul – the force that keeps us alive and integrated. The three principles propounded by Quaid-e-Azam – Unity, Faith and Discipline – need to be revived to make Pakistan a better place to live in.

The writer teaches at the Sarhad University.

Email: [email protected]


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