By Dil Nawaz
Sitting in the relative safety of “Little Pakistan” in Bradford these questions may seem little more than an intellectual luxury but hand on heart these questions have given sleepless nights and nightmares for the future of a country which gave us everything including its beautiful diversity.
That this article is being penned with a heavy heart would be a huge understatement. We have talked about, discussed and analysed the catastrophe that has struck Pakistan again after three years. One of the brightest Pakistanis [Shaheed-e-Pakistan Salman Taseer] is gunned down by a demented foot soldier of the forces of darkness that have clouded this beautiful land almost constantly for the past thirty years.
As one of the recent replies to a post asks pertinently, “what can we do now?” Your scribe has been extremely despondent since 4th of January about the future of our beloved land and had, rather foolishly (must admit), advised friends to “cut and run” before it’s too late. Forgive the shock and horror which is usually a first response in a tragedy for the safety of near and dear ones.
Bigger questions remain unanswered. If we all “shut up” and shut down this avenue of debate, what next? Is there a future for liberal democracy in Pakistan? Does the Sunni Muslim populace of Islamic Republic really want a democracy or would their tribal and patriarchal wishes be better served in a Khilafat -e-Islamistania? What would become of Christians, Ahmadis ,Shias , Ismailis, Hindus, Sikhs, Women or even educated and liberal Pakistani males, whether or not they belong to the oft-demonised elite ? Where will the millions find a sustainable refuge from the attacks of the barbarians?
Sitting in the relative safety of “Little Pakistan” in Bradford these questions may seem little more than an intellectual luxury but hand on heart these questions and many others like them have given sleepless nights and nightmares for the future of a country which gave us everything including its beautiful diversity.
Do we just abandon the fight and wait for the inevitable “knock of death?” After listening to brave young siblings Shahrbano and Shahbaz Taseer, quoting their martyred Father, “Taseers [read Pakistanis] are not made from a wood that burns easily”, not an option!
What do we do, rather HOW CAN WE pressurise these “cowardly” remains of Peoples Party and the self-declared “champion of democracy” government-in-waiting Nawaz Sharif to do something in order to halt the “March of the Qadaris(and Taliban)” on Islamabad and Red Button.
“Education, Education and Education”
A former British prime minister put it very eloquently in a single word, thrice. The trouble with Pakistan also started with these three words thirty years ago, when our system of education suffered a “gang brutalisation” at the hands of a dictator. We MUST abolish, revise and re-write the text books being taught in all of our Madrassah, primary, secondary and high schools with an urgency which is a national emergency.
All our schools, colleges and universities should reclassify the compulsory Pakistan studies as Citizenship studies with a large portion dedicated to Human Rights and lessons in religious, cultural and ethnic diversity of Pakistan. Compulsory Islamic Studies should be reclassified as Religious Education which also includes basic knowledge of all major religions of the world including their contribution to the world and Pakistani history and culture.
“Watch, what you say and do”
The media outlets especially the TV channels should be regulated by an independent judicial commission for their content. Strict legislation on neutrality, impartiality and prevention of “hate speech” MUST be introduced with consultation from all political parties and segments of society.
Indian, European, American and Asian News and entertainment channels should be given free access to Pakistani air waves in order to counter the influence of a reactionary “news mafia.”
The Constitution of Pakistan should be thoroughly amended in accordance with Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all citizens must be guaranteed their individual freedoms based on human rights and any law(s) contrary to United Nation’s conventions must be revised or repealed.
“Country is known by the company it keeps”
The government of Pakistan MUST sign Peace Treaties with all the neighbouring countries. No country should be allowed to wage a proxy war against Pakistan and Pakistan MUST crush all militant and terrorist groups hiding in its mountains and cities through a swift and effective counter-insurgency operation.
Pakistan MUST change its OIC(Islamic)-centric foreign policy in favour of a BRIC-centric policy, increasing cultural, social, educational, technological and economic relations with Brazil, Russia, India and China. People-to-people contact with these countries will help Pakistan achieve its full potential.
“Strict on crimes and strict on the causes of crimes”
Arguably, Pakistan’s biggest problem is the melt-down of its law and order infrastructure. This has given rise to extreme sense of insecurity, lawlessness and economic deprivation as result of lack of confidence in the penal and judicial system of the country.
The police department and law enforcement apparatus of Pakistan needs a root and branch overhaul. The judicial system needs to be made accessible for the citizens at the local council level and a viable alternative to the current top-down system need to be devised which involves local courts and police answerable to locally elected representatives.
Taxation and collection of revenue at the gross-root level coupled with a social security system which looks after the poorest of the poor will help eliminate the social imbalances which are usually the cause of a crime.
“One size does not fit all”
Pakistan needs to be divided into at least twenty five smaller provincial administrations based on ethnic, linguistic, cultural and economic identities. These new provinces must be autonomous in deciding their own affairs apart from currency (Central Bank), defence (Army), human rights (Supreme Court), educational policy (research and technology and text books) and dispute resolution (Council of Common Interest).
“Governance, distribution and equality”
Decentralisation and reform in all sectors of administration and economy must ensure equitable distribution of resources among different stakeholders. Land reform and industrial shareholding should ensure distribution of wealth among farmers and workers. Government should gradually divest from profitable sectors of economy assisting new cooperative style entrepreneurs based on local partnerships. Government should be guarantor of a safety net for the underdeveloped areas of economy till they become viable.
If major political parties agree on this “20th Amendment” to the constitution, it will probably take five years to make Pakistan a viable state again.CAN WE DO SOMETHING?
This agenda is just a start of discussion and by no means has exhaustive.The scribe thrown the first pebble in a silent pool?
Dil Nawaz is a blogger, a PTH contributor from ‘Bradistan’ Bradford UK