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Fleeting moments

January 2, 2020

A new year wish

Opinion

January 2, 2020

Christmas and New Year celebrations in the Western world combine to make a carnival of its own kind. People push their worries behind and consider the occasion an opportunity to meet families, friends, and loved ones with radiant faces. We too have been ushered into the new year. Have we as a nation made any resolutions on what to achieve during 2020?

As it is, there’s nothing much to write about the year that just ended, other than that it has been a year of political wrangling and discord. What the public read in the newspapers and viewed on the electronic media portrayed a scene of allegations and counter-allegations by politicians of various political shades. Besides, a steep rise in prices of daily use hit the middle and lower classes hard. Result: the nation remained tense and nervous.

Let’s resolve to begin afresh from this day onwards and forget about the year gone by. They say if you continue to recall demons of the past and allow them to dwell upon you, you would never be happy. So let’s make a wish that this new year ahead brings peace and amity in the lives of the whole nation. And that we treat all without any discrimination of being Sindhis, Baloch, Punjabis and Pashtuns. And commit to ourselves that we will rise and fall together as one nation.

Let’s wish for the success of democracy in the country, which means various things to various politicians. Those in power think the nation is blessed with truly representative democracy, while those out of it assert it’s a mere sham. Let’s, however, wish the politics of settling scores and revenge comes to an end this year. And political differences don’t culminate in personal animosity.

Do we hope to hear leading politicians talk less about mundane matters and more about tackling serious issues the country is confronted with, such as a burgeoning population and alarming scarcity of water for drinking and irrigation purposes?

Some years ago, there was a top lawman who vociferously proclaimed that he would pitch a tent on the site of a proposed dam after he retired. He even collected funds for it. Some say he is enjoying new year festivities in the land of strawberries. In his absence, my good friend Syed Zahid Salam requests if he could live in that tent to enjoy wintry wilderness on the dam site.

The phenomenally rising population is like a dinosaur that will likely eat up any economic progress made in the future. In the New York Times article ‘How to Fix Pakistan’s Crashing Economy’, the writer points out how “during the 1980s, in per capita terms Pakistan was richer than India, China and Bangladesh by 15, 38, and 46 percent. Today Pakistan is the poorest, with its GDP growth hardly sufficient to keep up with population growth.”

The national economy largely dependent on remittances from citizens toiling abroad is hardly a matter of any pride; instead, the country’s exports should have been the largest source of earning forex. Even Bangladesh, with fewer natural resources than us, has surpassed us in exports. It’s not that our business community is less industrious and innovative than Bangladesh’s, but it’s the more business-friendly environment that the latter maintains for businesses to grow.

Our business community could help improve the ailing economy if it’s not hounded by one watchdog or the other. We pray that this new year brings a turnaround in the economy, the employment situation improves and smiles appear on the faces of hundreds of thousands who have lost their jobs and the millions more living below the poverty line.

Let’s wish that this new year the rich consider it their moral obligation to provide generous help to deserving fellow citizens in need. The Parsi community is known for being generous in helping its needy people and so are the Christians. May rich Muslims prefer to help the destitute instead of spending lavishly on maintaining their ostentatious lifestyles. Happy New Year!

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.

Email: [email protected]