This is our time to live

Published: June 9, 2011

The writer is a lawyer and hosts “24 Seven” on Business Plus ayesha.tammy@tribune.com.pk

I am watching horrific scenes of the cold-blooded murder of a young man by Sindh Rangers being played over and over on television. Who listens? Who cares? We know this happens daily but, for some reason, we can’t seem to stop it. The cancer grows and threatens our very existence.

Is our world the product of a crazy CIA, RAW, Mossad, MI6 plan to destroy Pakistan or do we give them too much credit for what we have done to ourselves? All politics, as we know, are domestic, so it looks like the self-destruct button’s been on from day one. At first, the descent is imperceptible but as the ground looms, the realisation sets in that this is it, unless you can change course. How to change course? A zillion thoughts fly around in my head but first we need to figure out what it is we want and how to tackle it.

I, for one, would like to live in a strong, viable, democratic Pakistan. At the moment, I live in democratic Pakistan, not a particularly strong brand of democracy. There is little or no governance, rule of law, accountability, the list is endless. Its institutions — the judiciary, the executive, the legislature and military — are, thanks to decades of neglect, weak and shaky, but it’s still viable. Tackling the problem, now that’s way more difficult.

They say before you can do anything you have to get really angry, so angry that you are not willing to take what’s dished out. However, as it turns out, we are not angry enough but are filled with a corrosive bitterness. We use this to swipe at everything and everyone and in doing so we erode the very institutions required for the Pakistan I would like to live in. Of the main protagonists, the president is up on top of the hate pile, though after Saleem Shahzads murder, Generals Kayani and Pasha are a close second and, despite his stint as the most popular man in Pakistan, the Chief Justice is rapidly losing fans to perceived skewed priorities. Of course, everyone hates all politicians, no one is worthy even of grudging admiration and everyone hates the bureaucrats for they do no work. This is definitely not a good situation to be in. We dismantle the state apparatus, put nothing in its place and don’t see the vacuum being filled by those who cannot come through the democratic process until it’s too late.

Criticise, demand, protest — do all that is required and is right to ensure that the state apparatus functions and works for all of us. In doing so, we need to understand that things won’t jump into high gear just because we say so, the machine is so severely damaged that we should be prepared for a slow and arduous crawl. Also be prepared for all those who bay for blood. Ritual sacrifice is easiest, briefly satisfying our impatience, but it does not address the real problem. The buck may stop with the president but he doesn’t have the power to reign in the military. Similarly, everything that needs fixing in Pakistan cannot find itself in the Supreme Court. And while extremism and disproportionate defence spending is a major problem, we cannot dismantle the military. In all this bickering, incompetence and corruption thrive — paving the way for militancy.

We need to understand that the institutions that make up the system cannot exist in isolation. There needs to be some sort of equilibrium for the system to survive. The system here is attacked from all fronts, including internally, is primed for implosion and will be the first big casualty of the war that is being waged internally on Pakistan. We can descend into complete chaos, into a state of anarchy, or we can support our weak and damaged institutions, we can stop and think before swiping, we can direct our anger in the right direction, engage in the political process and emerge to challenge those who are damaged and compromised. Politics may be dirty but it doesn’t need to be. The transition will be difficult and ugly but it’s already happening, new faces emerge each election but many more are needed. Let’s build critical mass and change Pakistani politics.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2011.

Reader Comments (18)

  • Jun 10, 2011 - 12:36AM

    You are right – suddenly the criticism of the army has stopped and every channel is lending a lot of credibility to Ahmedinijad’s statement on america’s designs on Pakistani nuclear arsenal. This statement from a man who lives and breathes anti-americanism is accepted as gospel truth even by persons like Naji. The only dissenting voice was that of Nusrat Javed’s. Recommend

  • Ali
    Jun 10, 2011 - 12:51AM

    This article will go down in archives like many others.Recommend

  • Jun 10, 2011 - 12:57AM

    You are right. Who listens? Who cares? :(Recommend

  • Linga0123
    Jun 10, 2011 - 1:06AM

    Thats right !!! Criticise, demand, protest…. and get killed !Recommend

  • Thinking
    Jun 10, 2011 - 1:55AM

    Good article. While it will likely fall on mostly deaf ears and you are preaching to the choir, it’s still good to voice your opinion. Pakistan must look within for answers on how to fix its future. The blaming of others and scapegoating of America, India, Israel, Iran, etc. must stop as it solves no problems.Recommend

  • M
    Jun 10, 2011 - 2:00AM

    wish someone would listen.. someone would care.. and hope it starts soon..Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Jun 10, 2011 - 2:11AM

    Ahem, which are the “new faces” that have emerged and what do they look like?Recommend

  • ani
    Jun 10, 2011 - 4:11AM

    Another sermon from the intellectual class that feels good listening to itself. Recommend

  • Yasin Ali
    Jun 10, 2011 - 8:11AM

    Ayesha … as a Nation the only thing we have learnt is how to blame and find excuses .
    As Robert Kiyosaki said ‎’When people are lame, they love to blame.’Recommend

  • Sanjeev Jha
    Jun 10, 2011 - 9:20AM

    Good Article once again…..but the required power broker would not read it….if they do they would not act!!!!!!

    God cant save Pakistan…..its people can. Recommend

  • hanya
    Jun 10, 2011 - 9:58AM

    yet another self important piece with superficial analysis and a few controversial comments deisgned to get attention. Recommend

  • Saad Durrani
    Jun 10, 2011 - 10:49AM

    I think someone needs to look into the fourth paragraph again, I think the editor missed it. Even a 10-year-old knows that

    you never put an article before a pronoun (the Pakistan?)
    apostrophe is used for belongingness (Salim Shehzads murder)

    There must be a formula for writing an op-ed like one. It goes here and there. I like the ending though. Tammy is, I think, an optimist and we need good vibes too.Recommend

  • Sashi
    Jun 10, 2011 - 12:06PM

    @ Saad, you jumped the gun, mate! Please read the article again, Tammy writes “..the Pakistan I would like to live in”. I don’t see any error – grammatical or otherwise. Shehzad’s can be ascribed to a typo. For a writer with a considerable command on the language, I do think Tammy would be aware of basics in composition.
    Good article, though. The million dollar question is “What next?”Recommend

  • Saad Durrani
    Jun 10, 2011 - 5:52PM

    @Sashi:
    I did not jump THE gun. The correct way to say it would be:

    “we erode the very institutions required for the country I would like to live in.”

    There are other problem in that paragraph too. Sometimes, a writer writes in narrative that might not be very correct in publishing sense. It is not the first time I am point it out.Recommend

  • Siraj Ahsan
    Jun 10, 2011 - 6:25PM

    I dont think politicians are more to blame… I think burden of guilt should lie with the army.Recommend

  • FactCheck
    Jun 10, 2011 - 7:23PM

    So, you can’t shake up anything due brittleness. Hence, status quo is the prescription. Well done maddame.

    Recommend

  • Umar Tosheeb
    Jun 10, 2011 - 10:04PM

    That is a long-term solution, which requires patience. The problem is that situation could be so dire for majority that they can’t wait for institutes to get stronger–and that’s the basic dilemma. The well-off elite can and might wait, but it might not be possible for the rest. Recommend

  • Mawali
    Jun 10, 2011 - 11:39PM

    and the beat goes on…………………….tiring ain’t it? Can we crown you as the queen of rhetoric?Recommend

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