16th December, 1971 to 16th December, 2011, a period of forty years, from the very day East Pakistan seceded and formed independent Bangladesh. This time period has also been tainted with turmoil, martial law, clash of institutions, terrorism and curtailing of rights of Pakistani citizens. So what is the difference between now and then? In my opinion, nothing. Institutions are still at clash with each other, the citizens are still demanding their basic rights, while racial and religious discrimination is rife and violence has taken precedence over debate. Lets hope that this time sense will prevail and the crisis can be averted.
Last week has been dedicated to rallies, increase in political ante and allegations by political opponents. While this might be termed as a normal and encouraging sign in a democratic system, but in all the political bickering, the menace of terrorism has been ignored. The recent suicide blast in Nowshera targeting police officials has underscored the fact that terrorism is still very much a threat to the country. As soon as we take our eyes off the situation, these nefarious elements are ready to pounce at the opportunity presented. Would it not be better that instead of arguing and fighting amongst ourselves, the political leadership would sit together and at least come out with a comprehensive strategy to battle the menace of terrorism?
Mumtaz Qadri has been sentenced to death by the Anti-terrorism Court (ATC) over the murder of Salman Taseer, but Taseer family has a long way to go before justice will be fully served. The decision will be challenged in other courts and the case may drag on for years. Qadri will reach his demise eventually, but what about the people who poisoned his mind and provoked him to carry out this atrocious activity. These people in the garb of self proclaimed guardians of Islam are still out there carrying out a campaign to glorify the murderer and promote his image as a hero. The hardliners have exploited Qadri for their gains and do not care if innocent lives are wasted in the process.
This year the festivities on Eid seem to be dampened by the recent events in the country. Whether rich or poor, belonging to any religion or ethnicity, no one is safe from the surge of insecurity in the country. Karachi with a background of ethnic and political tensions has become a slaughterhouse, while Chitral is turning out to be the next battle in the war on terror. There is a political turmoil and the administration is unable to focus on the issues of poverty, energy, security and illiteracy. There is fear and even for the survival of the country, in the face of this onslaught. The festivities might have been dampened, but let us all pray that the spirits of the Pakistani people are not and they would fight every crisis with determination.
It has been 65 years since Pakistan has attained its freedom. Like every other year the citizens of Pakistan celebrated the Independence Day with enthusiasm. But after all these years have we really made any progress or have we struggled just to maintain our existence? Our national sovereignty is under threat and this too by internal threats. Our education and health sectors are at an appalling state. Poverty is at a rise while, the quality of life for an average citizen has been decreasing. Where have we gone wrong? Perhaps a plethora of literature has already been written on this subject and a lot of finger pointing along with it. This is the time to focus our efforts in fighting the menace of radicalism, poverty and illiteracy which are plaguing our country.
Jinnahâ€™s address to the Constituent Assembly on 11th August, 1947 clearly stated that, â€œYou may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.â€ But after sixty four years this statement has been conveniently put aside and forgotten. The same right wing elements, which were opposed to the formation of Pakistan, now claim to interpret the vision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. What do they know about the vision of Jinnah, when they were never part of it? It is this misguided interpretation which has converted Pakistan into a battlefield, where religion and ethnicity are exploited for violence.
As I was skimming through the paper, a report caught my eye. The subject in bold conveyed that United Nations Security Council had added Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to its terrorist list. Finally, there is some recognition for the TTP. After taking countless innocent lives and creating havoc throughout the country, the organization is finally a terrorist group. What one cannot understand is why it took so long for the international community to realize this, as TTP is active since 2007. Is it incompetency on our side or the failure of the international body? Or was there some element preventing this?
The inclusion of Article 19-A into the Constitution recognized public to access the information held by public departments, as a basic right of the masses. A series of five public service messages (PSM) and a short documentary had been developed by Individualland-Pakistan (IL) in order to sensitize the various sections of the society about RTI. These PSMs and documentary were supposed to be run on leading terrestrial and satellite channels. But after initial airing, the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) has categorized these as being anti-government in nature. The question that comes to the mind is what in these messages was so controversial that the higher-ups in PBA thought it to be non-beneficial for the government? Are they afraid that by having knowledge of their rights the people will demand more? Are they suffering from some kind of revolution phobia, where they think the people will be instigated by these PSMs? IL-Pakistan has decided to launch a protest against this unfair clampdown. You find out for yourself if these are anti-government or not.
In the recent days, the news coverage has mainly been on the turmoil taking place in the Middle East. It is unfortunate that many in the print and electronic media have been trying to link this, with the situation in Pakistan. While the people of Middle East are trying to overthrow dictators and usher in an era of democracy, the voices from various quarters in our society advocate disrupting a democratic system and bringing in a non-representative regime. It is quite obvious that the people who support this theory have either not worked out the whole strategy or have lost their way and are playing at the hands of notorious elements. My question to them is that, if this democratic system dissolves then what happens next?