Are Pakistanis happier in 2011?

A few words exchanged with a Pakistani will reflect the sadness they feel over their country’s looming problems.

Muhammad Faizan June 22, 2011
With regular bombings being just one of their constantly growing fears, and their country being ranked 12 on Foreign Policy Magazine's Failed States Index 2011, Pakistanis hardly have reasons to be a happier nation in 2011. We haven’t stepped into particularly hopeful terrain this year.

The CIA World Fact Book estimates that Pakistan’s net emigration rate is 9 per cent higher than in 2011. This is testament to the fact that many things are wrong in the country – the most glaring of which are:

1. Inflation

The 15.5 per cent inflation rate in December 2010 was brought down by two per cent in April, but prices of consumer goods kept escalating. Petrol prices rose by no less than 13 per cent in March alone. The impact of inflation is also reflected in the people’s purchasing power which declined by five per cent this year.

2. Power cuts

Long and erratic: even if Pakistanis decide to turn deaf ears and blind eyes to the long list of troubles enveloping us, the media forces it down our throats via every channel. And the moment we tune out to an entertainment channel, the power fails – with no intention of returning any time soon. False promises are made to the nation instead of giving it a realistic estimate of what should be expected.

Power shortages were supposed to end in June 2010! Or, at least that’s what our prime minister promised during a national address.

3. Corruption

Corruption is not synonymous with politics alone. True, our democratic system is non-transparent but then this also seems to be the case with other aspects of our nation like fashion and sports! Long gone are the days when only flour and sugar farmers, millers and traders, were blamed for hoarding and subsequent price surges due to supply shortages. In 2011, the fashion industry also fell prey to corruption. You see exhibitors apparently running out of stock on just the first days of their exhibitions, only later to have their clothes available at nearly 50 per cent premiums at other locations!

Pakistanis losing hope

A few words exchanged with a Pakistani would reflect the sadness they feel over their country’s looming problems. They rarely believe things will improve from the government level, now that they are finding all their solutions to be little more than scams. A live example is taxation. True that taxation is a solution to improving fiscal deficit. The 15 per cent flood surcharge tax imposed on all until June 2011 should ideally help the flood victims. But, if this does not translate into any visible improvement or protection for the people, then what is the benefit of such taxes? The gap between economic classes just continues to become more prominent.

Is there any chance of happiness?

I am not suggesting that the only way to achieve prosperity is to do away with these problems completely. Numerous countries are victims of such problems – the Arab revolt being just one example of an extreme reaction to similar issues. The point is that there has been absolutely no relief from these problems for the past 63 years. Status quo prevails. This proves that maybe it’s time each of us brought solutions to the platform.

Three things we can each do in order to make a difference are:

1. Stop  cheating

Are we getting our way at the expense of others by using shortcuts? For instance, do we deserve the jobs we have?

If you’re shaking your head in disagreement, then you don’t have to quit your job; but at least make a firm resolution to work harder and with more integrity from now on.

2. Avoid simply complaining

If we are pointing fingers at our politicians, policy makers and governors, then we are indirectly pointing fingers at ourselves.

Anyone can complain - find a solution and work towards it!

3. Keep faith alive

Trusting people can do wonders. It is perhaps because people have never felt responsible for their actions that they behave in this manner.

So spread the trust and believe in each other.

Muhammad Faizan A BBA student at PAF-KIET, who is interested in current affairs.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.