It is time we say goodbye to this hollow ghairat. We must find honour, dignity and respect through constructive work in the fields of economics, science and the arts, instead of looking for ghairat by crying out war chants, paranoid accusations and waving our skinny wrists and fists while pretending to ride our way to ghairatmand glory on our much cherished nuclear missiles.
The best analysis of the entire Raymond Davis drama comes from Nadeem F. Paracha, and in it he says almost nothing about the Raymond Davis case. This is wise because, as with all the manufactured controversies that play out on our TV screens each night, this too is but another in a long line of dramas that will continue to come and go.
Pakistan is not the only poor country in the world. We’re not the only country at war. We’re not the only country with tense relations with its neighbors. We’re not even the only country where all of these challenges come together at once. For too long we’ve looked for excuses in India, America, communism, secularism, the IMF, the World Bank. But every nation must deal with challenges coming from all sides.
We see in Japan that even the wealthiest nations of the world suffer natural disasters. On 9/11 we saw that even the mightiest nations of the world suffer terrorist attacks. There will be more disasters, and there will be more terrorist attacks, and the countries that succeed are those who do continue to keep their eyes looking forward, their energies dedicated to moving ahead.
Appearing before the Supreme Court on the matter of the Reko Diq mine earlier this year, Nuclear scientist and member of the Planning Commission, Dr Samar Mubarakmand, stated that Pakistan has the technical expertise and manpower to run the Reko Diq project, therefore the government should not give it to any foreign company. This is but one example of our professors and experts declaring that we have the expertise and manpower to manage our own affairs. It’s time we stop saying it and start proving it.
And proving it doesn’t require that we first close the American Embassy and put all Westerners on planes back to their home countries. It doesn’t require that we build a giant wall around the nation to keep out any and all foreign influence. We can start by improving our education system so that every Pakistani child has the opportunity to become the best – the best doctor, the best lawyer, the best businessman, the best journalist, the best scientist, the best teacher, the best driver, the best cook. Every Pakistani child should have the opportunity to be the best at whatever he or she chooses.
But taking responsibility for ourselves does not come without cost, and it is a cost that each and every one of us must bear together.
Who says we should not have honour or protect our sovereignty? We must, but it cannot be done with angry words alone or pointless demonstrations. We have to stand up for what we believe in. Particularly the full bellied, who are the most incensed.
The solution is not complicated, it is not molecular biology. Start paying your share to keep this nation afloat. No one is asking for outlandish sacrifices. No one is saying sell everything and give it to the nation. Just pay your reasonable share. If you have income, from whatever source, even if agriculture, pay a part of it to protect your honour and sovereignty.
Then, all your talk will have meaning. You will have a stake in this country, not just in an ideational sense but because you will be a partner in its upkeep. Then the notion of the collective will feel real and not just a mental construct that gives you a sense of identity. It is like building a house, not by watching from the wayside but brick by brick with your own hands. It is that sense of ownership which is needed, and over time will replace hollow patriotism.
Once we are able to pay our bills, then sovereignty will come too. No crash course would be needed. It is not a mythical concept that needs to be learnt. It is a state of being that comes from not being beholden to anyone. It is the confidence that standing by oneself gives. Alas, we have a long way to get there.
So stop telling me that the politicians and the Army are corrupt while you are doing corruption yourself. Stop asking me ‘who is the man of impeccable character to lead us for the next decade’. Stop telling me that you oppose increase in taxes out of concern for the poor while you run down rickshawalas in your shiny Pajeros and Prados.
We have created an economy of excuses that pays to put TV anchors in designer clothes, but has not a paisha to spare for a school or a hospital. We take lessons on morality from people who strap bombs onto children while dismiss as ‘sell outs’ those who speak of the same compassion and tolerance exhibited by the Prophet (PBUH).
We do this not because we are bad or immoral, but because the alternative is difficult. It means making a sacrifice. It means that maybe you can’t buy a new car or take a trip abroad. And we have discovered the convenience of blaming someone else. A ‘foreign hand’ is responsible, not us.
Imran Khan and Syed Munawar Hasan will organize street protests about Raymond Davis, but where is the street protest about a lack of education? They will march and chant demanding an end to drone attacks, but where are the chants demanding an end to tax evasion?
Enough. It’s time we take responsibility for our own nation. If we don’t want foreign agents running around the country, let’s get rid of the terrorists who they are coming here to find. If we don’t want our children joining militant groups, let’s build schools so that they will have a future to look forward to. Whether Dr Samar Mubarakmand is correct that we have the technical expertise and manpower to manage the Reko Diq project alone I cannot say. But I can say this: We have the pride, the intelligence, and the power to make Pakistan one of the greatest and most prosperous nations in the world. But for that to happen, we must stop looking for easy answers and easy excuses. The power to change is within us, if only we have the faith in ourselves to make it happen.