Know thy enemy | By Rashid A Mughal, US

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Know thy enemy

EVER since Pakistan came into being in 1947, we have been hearing, mostly from our worthy politicians, that Pakistan is in danger.

True it has been in constant danger from our enemies. Enemies who were against the creation of Pakistan and those who have been trying from day one to see this State does not flourish and is on the edge perpetually.

But there is one more important, rather most important aspect to this dilemma which perhaps we either do not want to talk about or have ignored it, at will.

Let’s go through our history since independence. After the death of the founder of the nation (to whom we all owe an apology for not even providing him with a good ambulance to transport his dead body from Airport to his house) and sudden and shocking murder of his comrade, Liaquat Ali Khan at a public meeting, we saw musical chair events of Prime Ministers coming and leaving due to political intolerance and lack of statesmanship.

This prompted General Ayub Khan to step in. To be honest the development and industrialization which Pakistan witnessed in 10 years that followed were remarkable.

This is a fact no one can deny. His team comprised people like M. Shoaib as Finance Minister, Z. A Bhutto as Industries, Commerce and then as Foreign Minister, Khuwaja Shahabuddin as Information Minister and Sabur Khan who held different portfolios.

Neither was corruption rampant as we see today and nor was Law and order at dismal level, we see today.

Pakistan was connected with the entire world as all the international airlines touched Pakistan.

Tourism was thriving, particularly the seaport as almost all ships passing through would make a stop-over in Karachi for a few days.

The bazaars of Karachi used to be full of foreigners from every corner of the world. But all this changed.

The 1970’s saw the start of decline of the wonderful era. The deep divide between politicians, who exploited the innocent and ignorant masses, created irreparable and far reaching divisions on linguistic and sectarian basis which continue till today.

The result was economic chaos and political polarization. The reserves kept falling and the loans kept mounting.

Today we are on the brink of economic default due to our own mistakes, our own follies, our own wrong policies and our own misplaced priorities.

Why should we then blame others for our predicaments? We ourselves were running our country, not someone else.

Why should we blame our enemies as we, as a nation, are our biggest enemy. Neither do we pay taxes nor do we have respect for the rule of law.

There appear to be two distinct sets of Laws – one for poor and other for rich. When the corrupt ones go scot free after “plea bargain”- paying just 20-25% of looted money, why will the others be afraid of any punishment ?

When the cases linger on in courts for decades, what faith will the people have in the judicial system?

When you can’t get any work done in any office without greasing the palm of a state functionary, what hope does an ordinary person have in state machinery?

All these ills which have crept in our society are because of us, not because of the West, not because of our neighbours nor anyone else.

We have ourselves become our greatest enemy and we should stop blaming others for this malaise.

We indulge in hoarding to manipulate the prices. Fertilizer disappears from the market when there is urgent need for it.

We jack up the prices of all fruits in Ramazan, knowing that there is a big demand for it in that sacred month.

In fact, prices of all eatables go sky-high in that holy month to make record profits thereby bringing misery to the poor and multiplying their problems.

Thanks to whole-sellers and retailers and, of course, the middle man. All this happens, knowing fully well that Ramazan is a month of blessings and giving, not of excessive greed and profiteering.

Yet this happens every year and government watches it happening like a silent spectator. Again we ourselves, our own people do it – not aliens.

Such acts and activities are strictly forbidden by Islam but do we act on the teachings of Quran and our Prophet(PBUH) ?

Sadly no. When we ourselves act as enemies of our own people, why should we blame others for the situation we find ourselves in today.

Twenty-Five Hundred years ago, Sun Tzu, Chinese strategist, wrote in his classic book “ Art of War” about military strategy based on warfare and military thought to know about your enemy.

Since that time, all levels of military and civilization have adapted these teachings for use in politics, business and everyday life.

The Art of War is a book which should be used to gain knowledge and advantage in governance.

The full quote goes like this: “Know thy enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated.

When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are sure to be defeated in every battle. ”

Our problems are self-created. We have been on a long honeymoon and spending money extravagantly which was not ours.

We kept on borrowing from other countries, friends and foreign banks, not realizing that money we borrow today will have to be returned with interest at some time.

We rejoice at getting loans from the IMF and World Bank, without thinking that they set very tough conditions for repayment which choke our economy.

Yet we kept on doing this again and again. We allowed corruption to flourish instead of nipping it in the bud.

We glorified incompetent and dishonest leaders who turned the direction of our destiny to disaster.

The country is on the brink of default because of a series of blunders committed in the past, as mentioned above.

What will be our fate in the days to come, looks scary and worrisome as it appears from the present events.

—The writer is former Civil Servant & Consultant: ILO and IOM.