Towards a new Pakistan

Published: January 11, 2013
The writer founded the rock band Junoon and is author of the book, Rock & Roll Jihad. He tweets at @sufisal

The writer founded the rock band Junoon and is author of the book, Rock & Roll Jihad. He tweets at @sufisal

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”— John F Kennedy

In early November 2012, I received an email from Dr Tahirul Qadri’s office inviting me to become a part of his pressure group/civil disobedience campaign to agitate against President Asif Ali Zardari’s government’s dismal record and anticipated theft of the forthcoming 2013 elections. In all my previous meetings with Dr Qadri, I have found him to be a learned religious scholar and a pragmatic politician but the path to political reform that he is suggesting is not a good prescription for the health of Pakistan’s fragile democracy.

After careful consideration, I have declined to support Dr Qadri’s long march scheduled for January 14. Firstly, I believe that Dr Qadri’s pre-emptive strike on Islamabad, no matter how well intentioned, may give a failed government the fig leaf of becoming a victim once again. God forbid, if violence erupts during the march, anti-democratic forces will find an opening to subvert the people’s desire for real change. It may also seriously upset the schedule of the 2013 elections. Dr Qadri would be much better advised to become part of the political process and focus his protest by contesting the elections. The upcoming elections will be unprecedented because of the presence of a robust, independent press and a vibrant youth and social media.

Secondly, I believe there is a better way to channel protest. In the history of nations, there comes a time when the chasm between what the people of a nation deserve and what they are getting is so huge that revolutionary changes are needed to restore balance. I believe that time has come for the people of Pakistan. Many concerned Pakistanis want to see a fundamental change in the dangerous trajectory that Pakistan is currently on. As individuals, we have a choice to make.

Do we let the forces that are at play act themselves out to the detriment and possible destruction of the country? Or do we chart a new path towards a new Pakistan? We have reached this state not because of a single cataclysmic event, but because of a long series of wrong policies, wrong decisions, wrong attitudes, lack of action when it was sorely needed and wrong values. Pakistan is bleeding from a million cuts ranging from suicide bombers, drones firing missiles into people’s homes, schools being blown up, corruption among the leadership, hijacking of our value system by foreign interests and a decadent feudal mindset.

The journey out of this deep hole will be an arduous and long one. But it is a journey that must be undertaken with a coherent plan. This journey does not require us to go back to some point in our history; rather, it requires us to chart a new and shared vision for a new Pakistan in the spirit that was first formulated by the founding fathers. It is a vision in which all Pakistanis, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion and social status, have security and access to timely justice, quality basic education, health care and gainful employment.

Over the next few months, I intend to travel across the country to raise awareness for this new Pakistan. Everyone from across the spectrum can agree on the slogan of Aman-o-Insaf (peace and regional harmony), Rozi (economic security) and Taleem (education). This is a universal slogan, which Pakistanis of all ages and inclinations can agree upon.

The first phase will require social media to reach out with a new message of hope and change. In the second phase, we will conduct town hall-type events with Pakistani intellectuals, entrepreneurs, artists and humanitarians, who will echo the need for the rule of law and unity to counter the extremism and injustice that is spreading like wildfire.

Our goal is to bring about a fundamental change in the contract between the individual and the state as it is being currently practised. It is to recalibrate the implementation of the Constitution and the obligations of both the state and the individual. Our vision is for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Pakistan, engaged positively with the world community. Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible, until it’s done”.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (25)

  • Falcon
    Jan 11, 2013 - 11:32PM

    It seems like you have come a long way since your last article. A very sober and pragmatic analysis combined with the call for positive action.


  • Salman
    Jan 12, 2013 - 1:08AM

    Good to hear that from you about your team’s aspirations. Although its not the best approach to achieve the objectives which you are trying to achieve so but atleast you are doing something in the right direction. Why i said that it is not the best approach is simply because in Pakistan, mass public need the awareness and before that they need empowerment, These two factors accentuate each other therefore your campaign would achieve only one objective. And not even that completely because your voice would reach out to a specific strata of the populace whereas we need corrupt political parties out of the ring thoroughly.


  • What's in a name ?
    Jan 12, 2013 - 1:18AM

    At least he has the courage to call a spade a spade unlike your PTI.Recommend

  • Asad
    Jan 12, 2013 - 1:19AM

    Totally agree. Good to see a thought ful pakistani contributing. God speed Fella.


  • RHS
    Jan 12, 2013 - 1:22AM

    Well written. Good luck and please be careful out there….


  • sabi
    Jan 12, 2013 - 1:47AM

    What change?.Can we turn the tide of divine punishment.Certainly not.Change is coming whether we accept it or not-Shamt’e ammal.


  • Indian
    Jan 12, 2013 - 1:47AM

    Noble intentions. You could start this by removing the legal, official and constitutional bans on Pakistani Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Ahmedis etc. from being qualified to be the Pakistani President or Prime Minister. But I don’t think even that will happen. (Forget about the idea of Pakistan becoming a secular state)


  • John B
    Jan 12, 2013 - 1:56AM

    Great, another messianic complex and preaching from the pulpit.

    What PAK needs is a leader who knows real PAK and real PAK lives out side of the Rock and Roll music and ET articles and television debates.

    Until the gods of PAK come down from their celestial castle and live in the real PAK shoes, it is more of the same, usually for worse, because the gods fight.


  • anticorruption
    Jan 12, 2013 - 5:34AM

    A good pieece. Best of luck in your efforts


  • Feroz
    Jan 12, 2013 - 8:32AM

    Make sure whatever you do, Peace is maintained.
    Thank you !


  • talha
    Jan 12, 2013 - 9:19AM

    and that’s the real thoughts which can bring harmony in Pakistan. he has openly condemn the irresponsible acts of TUQ at the right time rather than waiting for some benefit like other under shadow seems emerging leaders .

    i am definitely with him in this cause. it’s been long time to see his words of wisdom for the development of Pakistan. Salman make it a habit and we need such syrups on weekly basis for our mind cure, keep it up.


  • Murad
    Jan 12, 2013 - 10:09AM

    Best of luck buddy, cheers.!!


  • Mirza
    Jan 12, 2013 - 10:25AM

    “Towards a new Pakistan”
    What is wrong with keeping original Pakistan? Whenever Pakistan is in crisis instead of solving the problems within the boundaries and constitution we talk of new Pakistan. Have heard it all during and after the surrender of East Pakistan. Pakistan is our motherland and let us not look for a new mother and keep it intact.


  • nadeem
    Jan 12, 2013 - 11:37AM

    In my opinion, a better use of your time and energy would be to establish working relationships with the elected representatives in Parliament – and then persuading them, pressuring them, to legislate good laws. In other words, create a group that spends most of its time in and around parliament, meeting the members, educating them on good laws created by other parliaments, ….. legislative reform


    Jan 12, 2013 - 12:48PM

    Even though you have stated the obvious…but we need to be reminded of these things time and again. Also the people buying in to the ideology of “the Qadri’s” are not the ones writing for or reading ET they are the common people easily seduced by the religious melodrama….havent you noticed….this nation will follow everyone blindly in the name of religion and yet this nation needs to truly understand the religion the most! I like your idea of reaching out to masses….and I will participate…not for a political cause but a revolutionary cause!


  • Haroon
    Jan 12, 2013 - 1:03PM

    Salman, its a good initiative but I think you must also take a bold stand against TTP since the no.1 threat to the state and people today is the TTP


  • Jan 12, 2013 - 1:57PM

    While it is a noble idea – the solution does not lie in more speeches and more ideology.

    It lies in enforcing the law, empowering your police and internal intelligence, demand accountability and get the bomb blasts solved and perpetrators arrested. Follow the arms trail and get it nipped.

    Mindset is a long drawn out process and even In india we are eons away from being a secular state – all we can do is demand accountabiity from the police and administrators -a tough dirty job that unfortunately does not involve pretty meetings and prettier speeches. So while Owaisi made some good points in his speech – he spewed hatred towards other communities and incited muslims to act violently – so he must be arrested – and the minorities in turn are correct to ask for similar action against people who spew hatred against them. as I said it is dirty police work that will get you to your goal.


  • Raza Khan
    Jan 12, 2013 - 2:11PM

    Salman, you surely have matured! Before, I never used to took you seriously but it seems New York is doing good to you.


  • Aziz
    Jan 12, 2013 - 10:10PM

    In the modern era, music has spread to such an extent that nobody is free from it. Individuals are confronted with situations where they are forced to listen to music. If you sit in a taxi, make a phone call or even walk down the street, you will not be saved from this evil. Young Muslims drive around in their cars with the music fully blasted. The increasing popularity of music, which is prevalent in our society, poses a great threat to the Muslims.

    Music is a direct ploy of the Non-Muslims. One of the main causes for the decline of the Muslims is their involvement in useless entertainment. Today we see that Muslims are involved, and at the forefront perhaps, of many immoralities and evils. The spiritual power which once was the trait of a Muslim is nowhere to be seen. One of the main reasons for this is music and useless entertainment.

    Harms and effects of music

    We should be aware that nothing has been prohibited by the Almighty Creator except that which is harmful to the Muslims and the society as a whole. There are great harms and ill-effects of music.


  • Jan 12, 2013 - 10:39PM

    ” Have we ever thought that the people in Pakistan will face such violence as sectarian beliefs…After all we are great Muslims Who ruled the world.We have to wind up the waves of cruelty and injustice….My thoughts are within Shias Of Pakistan especially in Quetta…”


  • Aumir
    Jan 13, 2013 - 2:05AM

    I can only laugh on some comments made by some readers, they seems to be well educated I think if you will convince them first. You will be on track of success.


  • rashid aziz
    Jan 13, 2013 - 3:55PM

    The long march by Dr qadri has finally started off to Islamabad while Imran visits the Hazara sit down in quetta. I wish all streamline party heads would have headed for quetta first to bring a change in system there and get rid of rangeela CM who has brought the province to a virtual lawless land. Pakistan needs a change and people are getting restless now for a quicker change. They may also not be looking for elections in this country as everyone knows elections in present circumstances wont yield a different result and usher in same people back in assemblies. Country needs a revolution blocking way for all corrupt elements to participate in the next elections. The new election should be held under a utterly honest caretaker which is a night mare also to find, determine strict laws of eligibility for contesting in new elections and bring a qualitattive change in true sense.


  • Jan 18, 2013 - 10:59PM

    i appreciate your efforts but in our society people are easily manuipulate in name of religion. we need change but it should start from individual level . i will vote this year inshallah


  • Jan 18, 2013 - 11:02PM

    i appreciate your efforts , we neede to change ourselves then society , our people are ealiy manuipulated in name of religion . i will vote this year inshallah.


  • tayyab
    Jan 19, 2013 - 12:15PM

    PTI strategy is change through ballot box. Give us a real alternative plan to deal with status quo. Unless PTI is just a sedative.


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