Suffer you must

Saad Khattak

KNOWING that over eighty percent of our population will neither read nor understand the language in which this piece has been written yet I feel it is important for me to write what I must. They say that good or bad, right or wrong decisions by national leadership ultimately impact on lives of common folks. Who are common folks? Those around 20 to 30 percent residing in our cities with access to all sorts of media in all its forms or remaining 70 to 80pc with virtually no access to any format of information impacting their lives?
Ironically it is their votes that actually decide who should occupy the high seat at Islamabad. Over the last 70 years the country has been ruled by two parties changing turns besides three military rules. Did they deliver to the genuine needs of the common people despite you having repeatedly given them the opportunities? Who can you blame for this state of affairs? Would you, majority go through some soul searching by identifying your own role in the mess that you are in? If you think that twenty, thirty percent of us living in cities leading a life that you and your children cannot dream of will do it for you? You must be day dreaming as we that includes me cannot rough it out of our cosy drawing rooms. We can though be your super social media warriors operating from our comfortable environs with no practical participation to effect any change.
Since your vote makes ultimate difference hence I intend to write your share in the mess. One, regardless of the candidate’s true potential you either sell your vote or vote on the basis of baradari , religion or ethnic leanings. Two, you cling to a party that has successively failed to deliver fully cognizant of the reasons of failures with no hope to do well. Three, you accept to be ruled by families in a system where you and your children can never dream to attain leadership role despite of your potential and honesty. Four, you will make every attempt to hoodwink and cheat merit and force your elected leadership to do same as long as it brings favours to you and your children.
Five, knowing fully well you will allow yourself to be used as fodder by the cunnings within you to elect the incompetent for considerations other than merit. Six, embroiled with meeting your two ends you have become highly insensitive to some very important national issues warranting your weight in national policy formulations and implementation. Seven, having become highly insensitive you and your children are perpetually destined to be led by ordinary much of your own making. Given these roles that you play willingly or unwillingly in our election process and subsequent decision making I can conclude that Suffer You Must mostly for direct and indirect roles that you have been playing and continue to play within system.
What therefore you must do if you want to reshape your children’s destiny and playing your role towards the greatness of your country. First, pledge to yourself that you and your children would vote for the most deserving regardless of party, religion and ethnicity. Why can’t a Christian, Hindu or Sikh represent you and me in the assembly if he or she happens to be the best candidate? Second, pledge to yourself that you are not going to demand of your representative any favour that is not based on merit and fair play. This way he will not be able to cheat the system and society by doing anything that is not in the larger interest of the society and the country.
You will have every reason to reject him if he fails to deliver. Third, reawaken and rekindle the larger interest of the country and society within yourself and the people around you. This way you will be able to generate meaningful pressure on the leadership when it comes to issues affecting national honour and prestige. Four, pledge to yourself that you will do everything within your means to educate your children even if you have the means to feed them only two times a day. Remember only an educated person will have the understanding to choose the right representatives besides developing the ability to fight for the rights of the society and common people. Five, leading in politics is not the hereditary domain of few. Regardless of prevalent challenges within our society, develop your ability and potential to lead politically.
In summary it can rightly be concluded that there are many right things that you don’t do as part of your obligations toward society and there are equally many wrong things that you do which contribute to the failure of system and society. Moreover, instead of allowing yourself to be herded by ordinary few you have to awaken yourself to play a meaningful role for the country and your future generations or else Suffer You Must. The choice is squarely yours.
— The writer, a retired Maj Gen, is DG Pakistan Institute for Conflict & Security Studies, an independent think-tank based in Islamabad.
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