Dr Ikram Azam
LIKE the rest of the Muslim World, Pakistan also continues to experience endlessly excruciating Islamophobia ever after the 9/11/2001 American terrible traumatizing tragedy. Equally evil and devastating is reactive-reactionary many-faced extremism manifesting itself in Terrorism (state, interstate and non-state), fanaticism, and divisive sectarianism. It goes to the credit of Pakistan and its people for their tenacity of will and resilient survival instinct, to have weathered all of these challenges — scathed — but unshattered. Apart from Terrorism in all forms, and two hostile neighbours, Pakistan continues to be confronted by and suffer from: (i) Sectarianism. (ii) Corruption. (iii) Poverty. (iv) Population Explosion. (v) Illiteracy and Ignorance. (vi) Drug Addiction. (vii) Pollution: Environmental as well as Systemic Socio-Culture.
Let us essay a short running commentary on the foregoing select seven, realistically realizing that they are the cumulative result of decades of accretion. The good news is that all of them are remediable — essentiating collective consensual national action by Pakistan’s total leadership (— civil-military-political-judicial) comprising the Government as well as the Opposition, in the abiding National Islami Ideological Interested. That, sustainably and sustainedly, from year to year, over the next ten years, minimally. The best way to tackle Sectarianism — as well as Islamophobia — is to focus Islami Integration based on “Tauheid”, i.e., Unity through Oneness.
In practical-pragmatic terms, that means to persistently practise and thereby exemplify to project integrative holistic Islam as the Perennial Peace Paradigm and Muhammadi Moral-Spiritual-Secular-Material Model. Pakistan’s National Motto is really the Quaid-e-Azam’s clarion call to the entire Muslim Ummah, thus: a) Faith: Islam. b) Unity: “Tauheid”. c) Discipline: Self-Mastery for Self-Realization. It can be categorised as: a) Systemic: Of the total state-social governmental (civil-military) system. b) Political. The Political System per se allegedly breeds, spawns, and sponsors (a) above. This calls for total peaceful grass-roots Systemic Transformation. Much depends on the Superior Judiciary, as to how it tackles the issue in Pakistan’s national interest.
It is, again, socio-economically systemic, calling for transforming Pakistan’s political economy on the basis of Islami Altruistic Welfare Ethics initiating Sovereign Strategic Self-Reliance, Fraternalism, Socio-Economic Justice, Equality, not just token equity, and Fraternal Freedom. Family planning as well as population dispersal suggest themselves. Education as Enlightenment: “Irfan” is the Key to the Future. The answer is HRD: Human Resource Development means of Education For All. That means Free and Compulsory Basic Education (4-5 classes) providing Basic Life Skills, both humane and economic, to generate self-employed skilled human power. That is the surest way to destroy a nation. Being a cruel crime in itself, it germinates endless crime and social evil. It must be throttled at all levels: the source to the market — cultivation and production, channelling, demand, supply, and underground marketing. The related legislation should be implemented ruthlessly — like uprooting Terrorism.
Pakistan is, sadly, perhaps among the most polluted countries of the world. It is not just mist or fog, but suffocating smog creating health hazards — which are, most unfortunately, cruelly exploited by Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry. Shortage of essential medicines is manipulated for price hikes and exorbitant substitutes. While private hospitals are rippers, state hospitals are impoverished. Thus, Pakistani Pollution is not just environmental, it is also socio-cultural and educational. That is a chilling challenge to the nation’s social sector integrative-holistic-futuristic development.
Pakistan in its recent past was presented with two controversial fait accomplais, viz: a) The CD: Charter of Democracy; and: b) The NRO: National Reconciliation Ordinance. Perhaps both served their purpose — allegedly, their vested interests.
What Pakistan needs today most critically for its successful sustainable survival is a revival of its: Charter of National Integration — as encoded in the 1973 consensual Constitution’s Objectives Resolution. That, to create the truly democratic and consensually reconciliatory Pakistan of its Founders’ Vision. In the final analysis, Pakistan’s Foreseeable Future still lies integrally in the hands of its Collective civil-military-political Leadership, including the Supreme/Superior Judiciary, above all.
— The writer is co-founder Pakistan Futuristic Institute, Islamabad.