An economic downturn, unabated ethnic violence in Karachi, an unending insurgency in Balochistan, the rising prominence of the Punjabi Taliban, and terrorist outfits ruling the roost in Fata. This is the state of affairs in Pakistan today. Throw in the massive floods that have recently hit the centre of our already fragile infrastructure, and you have a country in a state of helplessness.
In such a hopelessly demoralising situation, the citizens of Pakistan are 'urged' by the powers that be to come out and fully take part in the relief efforts that are supposedly being carried out by the political leadership. Clearly, that has not taken place. There have been numerous discussions and debates with some stating that the magnitude of the crisis is the main reason for the lacklustre response, whereas others say that the situation in Karachi is responsible for the lack of focus. However, irrespective of whatever view is espoused, one thing is for sure: no one has a conclusive answer. And frankly neither do I.
All I know is that the people of Pakistan don't need to be reminded by everyone of their contributions in the 2005 earthquake relief efforts and how they have not even come close this time. They don't need to be told by everyone to 'do more'. They have been doing more and more, with the government doing less and less. They are tired, tense, angry, and fed up. For too long, the rich have been subsidised by the poor, criminals have been patronised by those entrusted to uphold the law, and the undeserving have been propped up as leaders. If, for once, the people of Pakistan find themselves unable to contribute to the relief efforts, in my opinion it is nothing more than an expression of lack of trust and public condemnation of our system.
It is a condemnation of the president who would prefer to launch the career of his son at public expense rather than console the families of those who have died, and the prime minister, who calls himself the chief executive yet seems to have wield little power. It is a condemnation of those sitting in parliament who ask us to 'do more' yet purportedly refuse to contribute their salaries to the relief efforts. It’s a condemnation of those political parties who regard the country as their personal inheritance, and sacrifice innocent civilian lives to continue and propagate their 'turf wars'. Furthermore, it is a vote of no confidence for those in the media who condemn all else as unethical, yet clamour to interview the grieving family members of the dead, simply to be able to announce gleefully 'that we were the first to show you the weeping faces of the broken-hearted!' It is a censure of those religious parties who call themselves the representatives of the people and Pakistan and in the same breath denounce democracy as a pagan ritual, and finally, it is a denunciation of those bigots who call themselves liberal and yet discriminate amongst sects, religions and ethnicities.
So, yes, people aren't contributing as they once did. But the fact is that, more than anything else, that is due to a lack of confidence in a pitiful political leadership which doesn't seem competent to run a khoka let alone a country.
The government has lost the trust and confidence of its people and with it the right to ask us to 'do more'. If anything, it is the government which should be doing more. In fact, don't 'do more', 'do something'!
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2010.
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