It was a pleasant, breezy night as we stood for our late night tarawihs in the open, majestic courtyard of Badshahi Masjid. Ramazan was in full season and the mosque was covered with festive lights. The noisy hustle and bustle of the city seemed far away from the serenity of the night. Suddenly, the whole congregation plunged in the darkness as the imam’s voice whisked away in silence. It was the season of rolling blackouts as we quickly made our salaams and waited for the generators. Yet, the quiet, dark night seemed to enhance the features of the majesty around us. The white marble domes glittered in the moonlight and the towering minarets spoke silently about the glorious past. The vast courtyard in darkness made one feel alone in the congregation. I started to wonder in the shadowy silence, “Will our nation ever return to find its night of destiny as it plunges deeper into the oblivion of darkness.”
Since our inception, we have struggled collectively against the darkness of zulm and jahiliya. Injustice has been our crowning hallmark, where might is right and whoever carries the bigger stick wins in the end. With this zulm, our elite also kept the nation divided under the system of jahiliya where the people have been squabbling with ethnic, sectarian and political violence from the very beginning. Thus, it was not a surprise that under this system of zulm and jahiliya, we lost half of our country in the early stages of our nationhood. The remaining half of the country, Pakistan is now at a critical political and social transition. This transition will determine the long-term course and viability of the nation in the future.
Pakistan is currently going through a generational change where over 60 per cent of the population is younger than the age of 30. Moreover, the youth of Pakistan is well-connected globally via social media and other electronic outlets. It is pretty clear that the youth of our nation is intent on changing the current system of zulm and jahiliya as it is producing dismal economic results with weakening job prospects. An unemployed, angry and politically powerless youth is a recipe for disaster which has devastated various Middle Eastern countries in our neighborhood. It appears that the ruling elite of the country is under groupthink phenomenon and believes that what has worked in the past will work in the future. The institutions need to start empowering the youth to choose their own destiny so that they can rehabilitate their moral authority which is critical to the viability of the country.
This transition also places heavy responsibility on the shoulders of Imran Khan as he appears to be the current torch-bearer for the youth. It is doubtful that Pakistan will transition to either Egypt (autocratic military rule) or Turkey (Erdogan populist rule) given the huge, diverse size of the young population. Catchy slogans like Riasat-e-Madina and Amr bil Maroof will only work short-term if they are not backed by competency and real change. How has the justice system of Pakistan been improved since PTI had been in power? Why were incompetent ministers empowered during PTI rule? Why is Pakistan still in economic difficulties after more than 3 years of PTI government? The young people of Pakistan are with Imran Khan currently because they have no other choice at this moment. If PTI returns to government in the future, it needs to remember that the youth will turn against them quickly if the slogans are not matched by concrete actions and results.
As our nation prayed in Ramazan searching for the one night of destiny which changed the course of humanity, let us hope that the new dawn will lift the dark clouds of zulm and jahiliya which has enveloped us for more than seventy years of existence.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2022.
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