- Countries and societies do not change in one day, in one year, in one decade.
- Pakistan, under Prime Minister Imran Khan, has a unique opportunity to construct a framework that would put it firmly on its way to peace, prosperity, opportunity, equality, and accountability.
What do we want for those we love? The best there is, the best there could be. To truly love is to be selfless. To truly love is to become a part of another. To truly love is to shine and be reflected in the gloriousness of the other. I love my son, my family. I love a few others who are not family. And I love my country. The rest is all tiny papery bits that fit together to make the whole that is my life. As I write today, I have one recurring thought: I’m a sum total of the love of my loved ones, and those I love. I am what I love.
And nestled with the love that is for my son, my deceased mother and brother, my family, and those who are no longer a part of my life but are still a part of me, there is one other entity that I love even when there is no realisation of that happening: my county, my homeland, my Pakistan. I love Pakistan. Period.
As I say Happy Birthday, Pakistan, this August 14, there is so much that needs to be said that I feel wordless. What do we wish for a loved one on their birthday? The best there is, the best there could be. On its 73rd Independence Day, there is so much that Pakistan already is, and there is so much it is working on, and there is so much more that needs to be done. Just as I have a list of things, in no particular order, in my nightly dua for my son and my other loved ones, I could close my eyes, and imagine a Pakistan of my dreams, adding it all to a list of things in my yearly dua for Pakistan that may not come true in my lifetime, but would some day, if each Pakistani, all 220 million of us, decide today to make even one of them come true.
Countries and societies do not change in one day, in one year, in one decade. It happens one act at a time, individually, or through many things, collectively, all the time. No one leader becomes the guiding light that shows the way to an ultimate splendid destination. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to national issues that affect the lives of millions. Irrespective of a sincere evolving and clear-eyed implementation of policies, attitudes and infrastructures do not undergo a substantial alteration in one big sweep. There is no magic wand. No matter how many good laws are passed, disarray doesn’t transform into a cohesive whole overnight.
Countries and societies remain in a process of constant change and evolvement to construct a system that becomes the fundamental force behind their existence, their day-to-day functioning and their future. Some countries are already there, some thought they were but were woefully wrong, some learn and unlearn and redo, and some are still trying to find the best way possible. Pakistan is in the last category, in my study of its various dynamics.
The role of leadership
Leadership plays a very important role if it manages to convince, through its ideas, vision, policies, articulation and implementation, and workability and ratio of success of all that. Pakistan, under Prime Minister Imran Khan, has a unique opportunity to construct a framework that would put it firmly on its way to peace, prosperity, opportunity, equality, and accountability. Not much can be achieved in five years of one prime ministerial term, but a world of possibility opens up when there is a national consensus that despite all present hardships and bleakness, the leadership at the helm of affairs is singularly focused on the betterment of Pakistan, considering each citizen of Pakistan as an indispensable stakeholder.
It is not a Paulo Coelho quote of the day, it is merely common sense. Making of a glorious country is not an act of alchemy, it is a series of steps that a government takes to solve the short and long-term issues beleaguering a country’s growth. Each step taken in the right direction brings the destination closer. Khan’s Pakistan, in its embryonic form, is already a manifestation of that: it is on its way to be more than people’s hopes and more than Khan’s promises.
The Pakistan that is a true representation of its green and white flag, decorated with a crescent and a star, is the Pakistan of my dreams. It is the Pakistan that is for all, a Pakistan that doesn’t distinguish and doesn’t persecute on the basis of faith, colour, class, creed and race. It is the Pakistan that has one law for all, and no one is above the law. It is the Pakistan where safety of life is a given, and everyone is entitled to good food, shelter, education, healthcare, justice, and equality of opportunity.
The Pakistan of my dreams is the Pakistan that takes its invisible, its forgotten, its failed ones, its despondent, its tired and hopeless, and its slow and uninspired in its embrace, and gently cajole them to see the light that no good act is small, no hard work is unappreciated, no citizen is disposable. It is the Pakistan that values individual talent, appreciates personal growth, applauds professional achievements, rewards hard work, inspires more milestones, and sets new standards of excellence. It is the Pakistan that leaves no one behind. Each Pakistani, individually, makes the collective mosaic of that beautiful dream of a Pakistan that is for all.
Today, Pakistan, in the grip of a weak economy and high inflation, struggles to find a balance that would wrest it away from past policies that made it dependent on external help that came wrapped in various conditions and huge interest rates. The process of accountability of leaders of major opposition parties, albeit not started by Khan’s government, must be beyond reproach to never be termed a political witch-hunt. As rainfall floods various parts of Pakistan, there is imperativeness for the immediate and long-term overhauling of the infrastructure. Each life matters, and Pakistan today knows it better than most countries.
The foreign policy of Pakistan is, once again, in predicament as Pakistan looks for ways to help end the US war in Afghanistan, and to not start another one with India. Indian-administered Kashmir is in a lockdown, and Pakistan, in full solidarity with Kashmiris, is all set to support the cause of peaceful resistance of Kashmiris on all national, regional and international forums.
As I say, in the silence of my room, Happy Birthday, my Pakistan, I close my eyes and utter a prayer: may the year ahead be all Pakistan wish it to be, and much, much more. Amen.