The elusive destination

Though running since 1947, we, as a nation, are yet to take the road to promised prosperity and social cohesion

The elusive destination

Azadi Notes-4

Pakistan is perhaps the only country where our leaders do not even have a sense of direction, let alone a hint of destination. We have been walking -- actually running -- in different directions since 1947. That is why we are in the middle of this splendid nowhere and delightfully clueless hitherto.

If we recall the ‘directions’ to a ‘promised destination’ given by Jinnah, or by the leading lights who followed him, or by a field marshal turned president, or by a president turned prime minister, or a chief of army staff turned president, or by the twice elected women prime minister, or by another COAS turned chief executive and then president, or by the incumbent and third time prime minister, we are nowhere near any of those ‘promised destinations’.

Did we not stick to the directions and went astray? Or were those directions wrong? Or, were those who gave directions lacked foresight and vision necessary for setting a destination and devising routes and directions? Or are those responsible to steer the nation in certain direction and destination devoid of any sense, sincerity and sanity? Or something else…! The answer in my view is a bit of all these.

Jinnah, in his first and famous address of August 11 1947, listed a top duty of the state and three problems which needed immediate attention. He said "the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected." The first of the three problems that he identified for urgent tackling were bribery (corruption) which he called ‘the biggest curse’. The others, relatively lesser evils then were black-marketing and nepotism.

In the last 68 years, we have perfected nepotism, and are undisputed maestros of refined and pervasive corruption. Actually nepotism and bribery in many of the recently reported high profile corruption cases involving politicians, judiciary, military and bureaucracy alike have combined, colluded and coincided.

Ironically, now ‘bribery and corruption’ have become such an essential part of our everyday transactions that it seems the system will collapse without them. As far as the ‘first duty’ of the government, it goes without saying that the problem can’t get any worse than it is in the August of 2015.

Read Azadi Notes-1: The evasive Azaadi

Recalling the varieties of promised destinations in the last 7 decades, in the 1940s our leaders thought our ‘independence’ will solve all our problems and miseries. The partition is irreversible and very much accepted. The independence is here. The problems we had in 1950 are not only magnified but increased in number, coverage, chaos, complexity and fatality.

In the 1950s, we were told that if internally we became one nation (read ‘one Muslim’) and externally we relied on the USA, our problems would be solved. For internal strength, we tried Objectives Resolution, and then the One Unit, and externally we hanged on to US fascination and shunned the USSR.

As a result, we paved the way for East Pakistan to become Bangladesh, and the US warship did not reach our shores to save us.  In the 1960s, we thought controlled political participation and top-down industrial production and growth model with assumed trickle down would solve our problems. It only brought a notional prosperity restricted to certain 22 families and the planning reports. Not only that the growth did not last, it also pushed the powerful guides to undignified exit and extinction.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, we believed Islam and Shariat would lead us to ‘the destination’. We instead found ourselves on bloody paths of sectarianism. The promised journey to green valleys of Eden misled us to the fields of murder and mayhem.

In the 1980s and 1990s, we thought if we acquired the atomic bomb, it would assure internal safety and external defence. Seventeen years after the bomb, we have got unprecedented internal security threat, external isolation, and in 2015 one of our biggest nightmares is what if some rogues stole the bomb!

In the 1990s, we assumed if Afghanistan became our fifth province, we would get strategic depth needed to be safe from Indian attack. Besides, we thought that if we waged a controlled war through proxies, we would make our biggest enemy bleed to death and reap the harvest of eternal happiness.

Unfortunately, our leaders were not fortunate enough to get it right. Fortunately, the Indians were not unfortunate enough to perish. They are still alive, kicking, singing and dancing. Ironically, we are the biggest fans and the largest consumers of India’s singing and dancing products.

Contrarily, our strategic assets got after our own innocent people, bled us badly and have paralysed us internally. Externally, now we say the US is behind all our ills. The only consistency we have adhered to is the unfaltering belief that India will eat us, ignoring the fact that most of them are vegetarians!

Destination is the place to which someone is going or being sent. In Pakistan, very few have a choice to go at their own. A majority has continuously been sent to perilous places in the name of destinations.

As my last week’s piece asserted, we need reflection to figure where we are, and trigger imagination to decide where we want to go. Once the destination is set, we need to build a vehicle that takes us there and devise a roadmap to reach there surely, timely and safely. That vehicle is state and its set of political, security, justice, administrative, governance and planning institutions.

The roadmap is easy. Just look around how other countries did it before us. The model is not complex. They invested in their people. They focused on industrial, agriculture and knowledge production and avoided wars. They ensured redistribution of wealth thus generated, motivated masses and drove to respective destinations that promised prosperity and social cohesion.

Destination is a journey from now towards a tomorrow; not of yesterdays to yesteryears. Dreaming is essential for envisioning destination, however elusive or impossible it may seem at first. As we dream, we also endeavour to realise it. Desires are different than dreams. Desires are personal and ephemeral. Dreams are collective and transcending the self and the selfishness. Pakistani leadership is full of desires but devoid of a dream. A dreamless team is only keen in sleep and not awakening.

Utopia is born of dreams. Dystopia occurs when those who ought to dream, remain asleep. Azadi is also awakening from a slumber. Next week, we talk about the dream we need, and how to transition from the prevailing dystopia to a utopia that springs from the dream we must have.

Read Azadi Notes-2 and Azadi Notes-3

The elusive destination