Prioritizing National Interests

With the recent buzz about Aafia Siddiqui’s case, one is forced to wonder what our priorities are when it comes to national interests. It is only logical to assume that floods, terrorism, educational and healthcare infrastructure along with political and economical security for the nation are a definite priority for us. These require the undivided attention and focus of our government.

John Wooden a hall of famer athlete and a coach said “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

What we can do at the moment is work towards factors that can actually be worked upon. Pakistan continues to reel from devastating floods that have resulted in thousands of deaths, decimated its economy and left much of its population homeless and vulnerable. Pakistani floods had been met with less publicity and fewer calls to action than the Indian Ocean tsunami, Kashmir floods and Haiti earthquake, despite the UN’s estimation that the number of people affected is higher than the three disasters combined. The United Nations and the United States, along with other countries and organizations, have pledged millions of dollars for the relief effort, but much more aid is needed.

Our country’s economy has suffered a major setback. We were already under large debts and now funds will have to be poured into efforts for reconstruction. Different sectors of the economy, especially agriculture, will bear losses for a long time to come. So far, the floods have covered a fifth of the country, destroyed roads, demolished schools and bridges of all scales, damaged the country’s power stations, wreaked havoc on our dams and swamped millions of acres of agricultural land. Crops have been destroyed and millions of diseases are likely to follow once the water completely recedes.

Terrorism is also a major concern that needs immediate attention. The future of Pakistan’s role in the war against terrorism is dependent on its political and economic ties with the US. Pakistan is an integral part of global war on terrorism and is not only defending itself, but also protecting the entire world form the catastrophe of terrorism and extremism. We need a strategic partnership with the rest of the world to foster peace and stability in the region, promote economic stability and address energy needs.

Marian Wright Edelman, an America activist emphasized on the fact that the challenge of social justice is to evoke a sense of community that we need to make our nation a better place. We are an impoverished and underdeveloped country, and have suffered from decades of internal political disputes and low levels of foreign investment with some of our other long term challenges including expanding investment in education, healthcare, electricity production, reducing dependence on foreign donors, political tensions both internal and external, and an economy trapped in a cycle of debt. At this point in time, is it really a logical decision to get ourselves caught up in Dr. Aafia Siddiquis case?

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