The stereo type positional mind-set in the average Pakistani:
If you are not a liberal then you are an extremist supporter, aligned with the military, work with the establishment, foment terrorism as a way of life, believe only in the Ummah, hate democracy and are India centric.
If you are liberal, then you are secularist, blasphemer, Indian lover, Army hater, promote democracy at the cost of the State, and are a sell-out, unpatriotic and a disloyal character.
Every argument gravitates to first establishing the credentials of the opponent and after having reduced one to one or the other categories, we go to town on him/her on a personal note, forgetting what the argument was about. We have no middle ground; our winning an argument is to first bring into question our opponents values by lumping him as a liberal or an extremist. Our method to this madness is to score points more than proffer suggestions that contribute towards nation building, State functioning or good governance. Our sense of loyalty defends even the wrongs of those that we support and belittle even what we know to be right argued by our opponents just because he is an opponent. Societies in the developed world are not made of such stuff, their conclusions are based on reason and rationality; they are open to suggestions and change their opinion if confronted with logic and sense.
So here is my take on balance, common sense and sensibility:
I believe India is an enemy State and will remain so till we do not address the core issues. India does whatever it can to destabilize Pakistan and gets away with it. We will reciprocate. In the event India and Pakistan can sit on a table and politically resolve their problems, I would support it but the current environment does not point to any such direction.
I don’t think religion has any business in politics, Pakistan was never an outcome of any religious movement, no religious party contributed to the establishment of the State. Quaid e Azam’s Pakistan is the only Pakistan that we need to promote; ‘Go to your temples, go to your churches, go to your mosques, you are no longer Hindus, Christians or Muslims in the political sense……..’
Militancy in Pakistan must be addressed as it should be elsewhere but we are not the only one’s responsible for militancy in the region. A regional conference should establish respective responsibilities, Pakistan does not have to take unilateral action to suit others. Terror can only be dealt with equitable terror, one cannot expose society to external violence helplessly.
Afghanistan is not Pakistan’s responsibility. The Taliban will be in power sooner or later; that is an Afghan matter. We must take safeguards along the Border to ensure that Taliban ideology remains in Taliban territory. Afghanistan can easily be contained and its influence in our domestic affairs minimized as far as possible.
Society must be taught to mind its own business and allow others to breathe. What one wears, eats or drinks is no one else’s business as long as it remains within norms of general society and even then it cannot be addressed through social moral policing by individuals.
Education must be promoted and should be based on truth, honesty and awareness, not be confused with literacy. Skills need to be taught to the majority of the population through polytechnic institutions to specialize in basic skills. We lack standards in almost everything.
Holding corrupt/incompetent people accountable is a part of democracy and causes institutional strength it in no-ways indicates an anti-democratic attitude.
Despite international facts and figures, I do not believe our economy is doing well. A 4 % growth rate is not in keepings with our needs or with the neighborhood we live in. We are going to be left behind. Our exports have fallen drastically, our major contribution to the budget is through expat remittances, our greatest liability is debt servicing while our needs indicate a sustained growth over 7 %. To me this is not sustainable, I am concerned but many do not agree with me.
CPEC, is an opportunity, I feel we are mishandling it. Lack of transparency is causing questionable contracts all over. This will result in high tariffs, huge interest on loans taken and a Chinese control of our energy, garbage, stock exchange, airports, steel mill and much more. CPEC is a Chinese need as much as it is ours, we do not need to sell the project to them; it will sell itself. Too many vested interests is likely to spoil this opportunity for generations to come.
Now is it possible to discuss matters within these values or am I wrong in my assertions? My word is neither the last word nor necessarily correct but I would love someone to correct me with substance and not rhetoric, with reason and not emotion.