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what ails pakistan?

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    what ails pakistan?

    this article describes fundamental problem
    facing pakistan. there is a gap between what ordinary citizen wants and what few military elite and fanatic religious people want
    State and citizen
    Aseff Ahmad Ali,
    a former foreign minister of Pakistan, laments how, when the
    mullah proposes and the state disposes, the citizen is becoming
    increasingly alienated from the state of Pakistan

    There isn't a country where one question is more often asked: what ails
    Pakistan? To all such autopsies, may I, in all humility, add my own theory
    of the national malaise?

    Whatever one may call the "state", it is clear that the state is at variance
    with the citizen. A debt-ridden state with a "heavy" foreign policy agenda
    is trying to squeeze the last ounce out of its citizens. It has lost the ability
    to correct itself after indulging in monumental blunders. Far from
    facilitating its citizens or moderating their various interests, it continues
    to use the citizens' taxes to enlarge itself. Therefore, the citizen does not
    feel at peace with the state.

    The citizen yearns for a workable democracy in which he has a voice.
    The state holds elections. After the ballot is cast, the citizen goes home.
    But democracy starts and ends here. The elections are manipulated to
    achieve "desired results", which is a euphemism for pliable government.
    The pliable government is then expected to fulfil the agenda of the state.
    But as soon as an elected government is seen to lapse from the state's
    national security agenda, or expresses dissatisfaction with it, the
    government is rapidly destabilized through various constitutional and
    judicial mechanisms. The citizen thus becomes a helpless bystander in a
    cycle of the absurd in which the state pursues its agenda relentlessly,
    sometimes even at the cost of international isolation and domestic

    Historically, the citizen has great love for a moderate and tolerant Islam
    based on the teachings and poetry of the Sufis. But the state of Pakistan
    has no use for such teachings of peace and love. It needs militants to
    fight its battles. These militants are recruited through jihadi parties, which
    are intolerant and retrogressive. They are also greedy for power and
    money. They intimidate citizens by instilling the fear of God and
    weapons. They fight murderous turf battles with one another and with any
    government that dares to oppose them. The state refuses to contain
    them because it has a need for them. So if they give an ounce of
    themselves to state causes, they demand and obtain a pound of flesh
    from the hapless citizen. Several of them have lately been threatening to
    invade Islamabad and force the government to impose their version of
    the Sharia. Some have even threatened to create Islamic states within
    Pakistan. Some of their assassins are for hire and claim state
    protection. They operate thousands of seminaries and receive foreign
    funds. They issue fatwas and feel free to declare jihad against India,
    China, Iran and USA. On sensitive security issues they threaten the
    country against signing the CTBT, warn against a dialogue with India and
    agitate against talks on Kashmir.

    The mullah proposes and the state disposes. The state of Pakistan sees
    no sedition in this practise. If the mullah threatens the state its minions
    plead with him. If he goes on the rampage in Peshawar, state officials
    join his chorus. He ridicules democracy as a Western instrument of
    foreign control. He hates the Quaid-e-Azam and doesn't have a word of
    praise for him in his fearsome Friday sermons. Yet the state of Pakistan
    does not wish to hear the citizen who has spoken again and again in
    every single election against Mullah Islam.

    The citizen has deep feelings for the oppressed people of occupied
    Kashmir and wants justice for them. But the jihadi mullah says no. He
    wants to wage jihad till the break-up of India. And the Pakistani state
    allows religious parties to declare jihad at will. It refuses to listen to the
    citizen who, even as he or she is proud of Pakistan's nuclear
    achievement, does not want war. The state on the other hand is
    determined to pursue untenable and unsustainable national security and
    foreign policy positions.

    The citizen has no quarrel if Pakistan trades with India. But the state says
    no, even at the cost of economic isolation. The citizen wants cheaper
    goods from India, but the state only allows expensive western goods. The
    citizen is proud of the great Muslim Civilization of India, and is also proud
    of the pre-Islamic craddle of civilization of the Indus Valley. But the state
    tells him that Pakistan's history starts with Mohammed Bin Qasim. The
    citizen admires all Mughal Emperors. But it insists the greatest of the
    Muslim Emperors was Aurangzeb. Meanwhile, school history books offer
    a garbled and concocted version of history, which is part of the state
    propaganda machine's attempt to turn the citizen into an ideological
    creature. This allows for no discussion, no intellectual discourse, no

    And so it goes in the state-managed electronic media. The citizen is
    bombarded everyday with religion. When the citizen wants healthy
    entertainment, the state gives him sermons. When the citizen wants
    openness, the state gives him closure. When the citizen wants objective
    news and views, the state gives him official hand-outs and
    news-gazettes. The citizen wants to hear and make up his_ own mind.
    But the state has already made up his mind for him. The citizen wants to
    know why things are so wrong. But the state tells him how right things
    are. The citizen wants to be proud of his regional cultures and languages
    but the state discourages regional expression. The citizen is proud of
    Pakistan's diversity but the state is alarmed by it. The citizen wants
    provincial autonomy but the state wants to give him district autonomy.
    The citizen wants genuine decentralization but the state wants more
    federal controls. The citizen wants a simplification of procedures but the
    state keeps complicating matters. The citizen wants the government to
    be a facilitator but the state obstructs everything and everyone. The
    citizen wants efficient government but the state provides more red tape.
    The citizen wants end to discretionary powers but the state finds ways of
    greater self-empowerment. The citizen wants better schools, health-care
    and social services but the state is happy to let them degenerate. The
    citizen wants less government, the state gives him more. The citizen want
    responsive government, the state gives him official arrogance. The
    citizen wants accountability, the state gives him selectivity. The citizen
    wants the rule of law, the state gives him legal expediency. The citizen
    wants less law and more order, the state gives him more law and less
    order. The citizen wants criminals to be punished, the state cuts deals
    with them. The citizen wants all to be equal in law, the state believes and
    acts as though some are more equal than others in law. The citizen
    wants no exceptions, the state makes the army and judiciary to be solely
    exempted. The citizen wants a strong judiciary, the state hands down one
    PCO after another. The citizen wants an impartial judiciary, the state
    wants it wedded in its favour.

    This is not the end of the story. The more insensitive the state becomes
    to the needs of its citizens, the more Pakistan goes wrong. The state has
    become cavalier and high-handed, driven by a blinding single-agenda
    ambition to avenge the defeat of December 1971 at the hands of India. It
    has blown the faults of politicians out of proportion. Instead of isolating
    and condemning some corrupt politicians, the state has demonized all
    politics. The more the state is driven by a_ national security agenda, the
    more it drives itself into economic and international isolation. With
    politics now a dirty word and the two main national parties under siege,
    the space is empty. Negative forces are therefore rushing in to fill the
    vacuum. In this turmoil, can the country achieve its national goals? I do
    not think so. Pakistan has learnt no lessons either from its own history or
    from contemporary times. The fall of Dhaka, the fall of the Soviet Union,
    and the fall of the Ottoman Empire tell us something. In each case, the
    state became deaf and blind to its citizens. In each case militaristic
    decisions based on arrogant reasoning caused disaster.

    The time has come for Pakistan to grow up, to face the stark reality. The
    citizen has spoken up time and again. The state must now listen to him.
    Instead of being the biggest hurdle in the way of the citizen and sap his
    energy and creative potential, the state should correct itself. This is not a
    poor country. It has been impoverished. The state must now give space
    to the citizen and to civil society. If the state and the citizen can agree to
    harmonise, Pakistan can become a great powerhouse of growth and
    prosperity. But if the state refuses to listen to the citizen, it will forever
    lose the path to Mr Jinnah's Pakistan.