Living in Pakistan, I am unable to decide whether its people truly want honesty and transparency, or lies and corruption.
I think the majority of our people have chosen dishonesty as a way of life.
From the richest to the middle class to the poor, we live in hypocrisy, mendacity, and squalor. I think we prefer it that way.
Pakistanis are truly addicted to lying. It’s almost an automatic reflex. We do not love the truth.
For those of you who tell me this is true the world over, I only know the environment in which I live, which is Pakistan. And I haven’t seen people like this anywhere else.
Perhaps this is because telling the truth, being moral, being good, is hard work. And we are not brave enough for that.
This is our national character, this is how the world perceives us. We had better face up to it, rather than hiding in denial.
In truth, we are a cowardly nation. Afraid of the truth, afraid of hard work, afraid of consequences.
Each human being has these tendencies. But in Pakistan, we indulge them, instead of striving to overcome them.
Political parties, mullahs, intelligence agencies, bureaucrats, did not create this culture of dishonesty. They took advantage of it.
And nuclear might, and strong armies, and full coffers will not make us a strong nation, will not make us strong or good people.
Instead of working hard to overcome our difficulties we cry and point the finger of blame at others. We still haven’t faced up to ourselves.
So when you ask what’s wrong with Pakistan, realise that the sickness is within ourselves. Each and every one of us.
You students who choose to plagiarise and cheat, the problem lies with you.
You men and women who enter into marriage under false pretenses, the problem lies with you.
You people who make yourselves feel strong by thinking yourselves suprerior, the problem lies with you.
You who look down on the poor while admiring the rich, the problem lies with you.
You who allow religion to give you a sense of false complacency, the problem lies with you.
You who pander to the powerful and the mighty, and ignore the weak and the frightened, the problem lies with you.
Who are your gods? Not Allah, surely. Your gods are flawed beings who you admire and worship, and your own base selves.
You who chastise your children, but never spend time with them, explaining right from wrong, the problem lies with you.
You who assuage your children with toys and electronics, cars and jewels, the problem lies with you.
Stop thinking the problem is the army, the politicians, the mullahs, the nation. The problem is us. We are the problem.
The same students who plagiarise their papers, who cheat in their exams, are clamoring at rallies screaming for “Inquilab”.
The same women and men who point fingers at the immoral leaders are cheating on their spouses.
The same men who cry against the feudals and industrialists are cheating on their taxes and not paying their electricity bills.
The same people who donate so much money to the poor are underpaying their servants.
Each and every person in Pakistan contributes to this system. We are the problem.
And each person who says, “Not me, I’m honest” is the biggest liar of all.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2012.