Failure of a nation | By Imtiaz Rafi Butt

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Failure of a nation

IN modern research, it is often said that the hardest part of creating knowledge lies in reaching the right question.

If the questions are correct, the answers are fairly convenient to find with the right amount of resources.

One of the most essential questions that has been asked over and over again is what causes the failure of a nation.

The second important question then becomes, what are the factors that are involved in the success or failure of a nation or country.

Throughout history, there is a constant rise and fall of nations. Many a philosophers and historiographers have attempted to decipher the elements that are the ingredients of a powerful and prosperous nation.

The answer has been elusive at best. For many hundred years, some rudimentary civilizations in ancient times believed that any nation that was superior in warfare would be prosperous.

Great empires could be erected through sheer violence and massacres of humanity but they did not hold.

The ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Akkad and Sumeria are classic illustrations. History moves on to declare that those who are best in innovation and engineering are supposedly the most prosperous.

This is somewhat applicable to the great empires of the Greco-Roman period history. The time when housing, road-building, administration, warfare and innovation were at their peak.

And for many centuries, the empires were prosperous but then time proved the formula wrong once again.

The nations failed and crumbled and new ones took over. Then history gave a new lesson, a fresh one this time.

This time the prosperous nation was successful not by just warfare and innovation, but by faith.

As the continents thundered when the might of the Islamic forces clashed with the Christian empires in the multitudes of crusades where millions of people perished.

Empires flourished with a set State religion. The Caliphates of the Islamic world and the empires backed by the Papal Churches of Europe.

But time proved, that even faith was not enough to keep empires and nations flourishing. Yet another transformation was at hand.

While the Muslim empires of the world were busy in warfare and conquests, a new branch of knowledge started gaining ground in Western Europe.

It was called “Science”. And soon this field of knowledge took over and gave a new direction to the world.

When applied to warfare, commerce and trade, Science revolutionized the human world. The European countries, armed with their new knowledge of science, marched on the world and called it Colonialism.

For a long time, Colonial masters of Europe were prosperous, but even this system was bound to fail and change into an entirely different system.

The Colonial masters were pushed out and a new era of freedom and governance came to pass.

After the two world wars, some nations had found that humanity could not survive if way of warfare was to continue.

Consequently, the United Nations came into being. Science, economics and philosophy had joined hands, and the Western world had found the golden cure, the cure that could solve the problems of incessant war, violent conquests, treacherous monarchy, zealous manipulation of faith and religion and the idea of superiority of one nation over the other on the basis of class, creed or language.

That idea was democracy. The rule of the majority by the majority through the inclusion of everyone in the process of law-making, governance and combined decision making in every wake of life protected by law and a constitution and looked over by the judicial system of merit.

But this system needed an enabling environment to function and given the opportunity, this mechanism could fix all complications of the past with political upheavals, famine, poverty, warfare, animosity, divisions and economic concerns of all types.

The Western nations remained true to the idea of freedom of democracy, rights, liberties and rule of law.

And this, by all means, is the only way forward that can determine the failure or success of nations, a true democracy, implemented not in parts, but as a whole.

Accepted and implemented as a single entity, where every citizen of the nation is committed to the idea of not just a particular class, religion, creed or racial background, but to the idea of equal rights and protection of everyone under the law, under the book of constitution, a constitution that must be held sacred beyond anything else, that is the only way, that is what can keep a nation from failure.

A masterpiece in its own name, a book called, “why nations fail” was published in 2012 by Daron Acemoglu.

In this book, a group of researchers have studied and interpreted almost whole of human history and have found that nations fail when their institutions only favor the rich and the powerful, and nations progress, thrive and advance, when they have systems that include the majority of the people in a unifying system of governance.

This “inclusion” as per Daron, can be achieved in a true democracy, but many a times, authoritarian regimes make themselves look like democracies.

And so, in order to ascertain, whether a nation possesses true democracy or a façade in the name of democracy, one can analyze whether there exists a concentration of power and wealth in the nation.

The rule of law determines if the nation is on its path to security, justice and progress or towards destruction.

The presence of strict implementation of law determines the political sustainability of the nation and that political stability ensures that the economic growth of the nation is steady and sustainable.

So, it is evident, that the system must include, unify and combine the high and low of the nation into one fabric of existence.

Only then, a nation can avoid being a failure and find its way to prosperity and security. And by far the most expeditious method to achieve this equality and peaceful co-existence, is through acceptance of democracy at the heart and soul of the nation.

Pakistan came into being as a progressive welfare Islamic state.The great Quaid had a vision that Pakistan would become the most educated, cultured, methodical, hard-working and law-abiding modern nation in the world.

Somewhere along the way, the corridors of power subverted his vision but the results are before us.

The concentration of power, misuse of authority and perversion of law have diminished every one.

The high and the low combined. Pakistan is failing but it is not failed yet. The nation is yet to speak.

The heart of the nation is its youth and they are now with knowledge and awareness. Pakistan, a young and geo-strategically located country cannot be undermined.

It is a nation of extra-ordinary intelligent and kind people that need leadership; who can kindle the modernity, truthfulness and passion of the great Quaid.

If Pakistan was achieved in seven years after the Lahore Resolution of 1940, then Pakistan can surely can be rescued and put on a prosperous path in less than seven years.

But, each and every one of us will have to accept that rule of law and democracy are sacred and the Constitution is supreme.

It is only rule of law and inclusion of everyone that can save us. Our youths must take the reins now and carve out a new future where the mistakes of the past by Generals or Politicians are never repeated.

And every section of society must understand that if democracy and the youth are not given a chance, the failure of the nation will become inevitable.

—The writer is Chairman, Jinnah Rafi Foundation, based in Lahore.