Self-discipline and character building at national level

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Brig Naseem Akhtar Khan (R)

FORTUNATELY, Pakistan is a nation with tremendous inbuilt potential, supported by a strong emotional follow-up. Resilience shown during the creation of our country, and subsequent display of valour and determination to fight back numerous testing times, are clear display of our inherited strength and motivation. We are the people who can go to any extent for the sake of our country, a fact that is so well known to all our friends and foes. Additionally, our strong geo-political/ geo-strategic position in the region and a strong defence capability, has earned us an importance that none can deny or ignore. However, there is a sad side of the picture, as well, which cannot be ignored, during any study or analysis carried out from our future perspective. A closer look indicates that unfortunately, there has been a gradual decline in some of our core values and strengths, as a nation. Over the years, our patriotism significantly lost its essence, religious/ ethnic exploitation through its faulty interpretation went unreasonably high and politics of loot and plunder, under the cover of so-called” democracy” became a way for our governance. The most serious victim has been our educational system, losing its meaning and relevance. One cannot stop laughing at the importance that education got within our political/ governance system, which even did not hesitate to abolish a constitution amendment which had made bachelor’s degree compulsory to be a Member of Parliament.
Resultantly, there has been an unacceptable fall in our values, standards and nationhood. Our failure to make a difference between personal gains and our national interests was brutally exploited by our adversaries to target our strengths, weaken our governance system, creating ethnic/ religious divide and inter-organisational disharmony. Prevailing scenario is much more serious than many of us may think. We have two front war to fight; to counter foreign threats, and a very delicately planned fight against brigades of enemies within; by hitting the root causes that promote/nourish such tendencies. Panama Leaks type of thing in Pakistan, can blast many undercover tycoons. Rebuilding of our institutions and governance machinery, with suitable and quality intake, will be essential. This article is basically aimed at stressing on the need of injecting a fresh wave of self-discipline and character building at national level, that provides suitable nursery for selection of right kind of people for induction in all government institutions. Unfortunately, our existing education system lacks emphasis on this kind of grooming and its re-orientation will take us ages. We used to have National Cadet Corps (NCC) at intermediate levels for the purpose, but that also got lost like many other good things vanished from the scene due to mismanagement/misinterpretation and mal-intentions. Whom to blame? I have no answer.
Self-discipline means self-control which is a sign of inner strength and control of ourselves, our actions, and reactions. It gives us power to stick to our decisions and follow them through. Character building means to work on our personality, behaviour and attitude to make ourselves better. Leaders with morals can motivate their people to follow the goals. It gives them empathy. To begin with, a suitably organised training with reference to “self- discipline and character building”, at intermediate level, can provide us with a pool of well-groomed candidates for induction into all government institutions. The attendees of such a training will have many values in common and their employment in various institutions will bring in more understanding and harmony amongst different segments of governance/ management. The prevailing gap between various departments/ institution is basically because of the lack of information of each other. An institution better organised becomes a source of resentment for others who feel little deprived due to mismanagement within their own setups. It is so sad to find so many educated and well reputed officers from various departments with these sorts of misconceptions and advocating/spreading hatred amongst each other.
If we recognise the need for such an initiative, there are so many appropriate forums available to pursue. As a food for thought, an educational/ training course on “Self- discipline and Character building” at national level can be effectively planned in close coordination between the Ministry of Education and National Defence University. The ongoing workshops on national security, being regularly conducted at the NDU for the participants from different segments of the society/public functionaries, can be taken as a guideline. Numerous cadet colleges and some other well reputed educational institutions can be of great help in providing the training facilities for such a venture. The course can be linked with other educational qualifications laid down for induction in various government institutions, including the army. Those qualified can also be utilized during emergencies like earthquake/pandemics, other welfare projects and even, in case of war, through pre-planned SOPs. The proposal, if implemented, can be a beginning of new initiative for building national character which truly reflects our inherited strength/ potential.
— The writer is Security Management Professional, based in the UAE.