Does Pakistan have a future?

Democracy can take care of itself; if we maintain course, Pakistan will soon come out of coma.

Farrukh Khan Pitafi July 12, 2013
The writer hosts a show called “Capital Circuit” for News One and tweets @FarrukhKPitafi

Just imagine if a comatose patient close to you was in the intensive care unit and despite every attempt to revive him, you keep getting reports of organ failure. You have changed many doctors, medicines, methods, even hospitals, but nothing bears fruit. What do you do next? While you pray for the patient, you slowly start convincing yourself to plan for the funeral.

Many compare Pakistan’s present sorry state with the plight of this patient. One minute Osama bin Laden is caught, the next terrorists are blowing themselves in order to kill as many of us as possible. Then, there are reports of drone attacks, targeted attacks on foreigners, an economy in blues, the Abbottabad Commission Report leak and the BBC report on the MQM and its chief. Pakistan’s integrity then is like a military academy. Parts of it keep passing out. Does it have any future then?

When the Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report was published by an Indian newspaper without being officially declassified in Pakistan, there was a lot of hue and cry. Every state has some secrets and the right to keep them, or so it is believed. But that was then. Now, when the Abbottabad Commission’s pearls of wisdom are leaked to a foreign news channel, should we be worried? Perhaps, a state’s power is not in question here. It has more to do with the relationship between new technologies, a state’s inability to master them and a workforce that can revolt anytime. Those responsible for leaking the report should be found out and punished (I say it out of pure spite. Hey, they could have sold the report to a Pakistani media organisation, but no, they had to leak it to a foreign group). But those who kept the report a secret should also be questioned. The magnus opus created by the Commission hardly merits such secrecy.

The economy again seems a big reason behind our state’s gradual meltdown. When you don’t have money, you start failing in every area of governance. Fortunately, for us, the current government and the opposition have a good understanding of the situation and hence are focusing mainly on the economy. Meanwhile, Pakistan has reached an agreement with the IMF. And while everybody keeps saying that the IMF can only create more trouble and never offer solutions, this government seems confident that this time it will work.

Pakistan’s territorial integrity and unstable democracy are often identified as a few more areas of concern. While it is true that there are two insurgencies going on in the country and Balochistan’s situation is reaching a critical level, simultaneously, there is an effort to win back the parties that want separation. The process hasn’t started yet and there is huge resistance from the status quo forces within the province but even this can be resolved. Also, it must be pointed out that Balochistan is not like East Pakistan where there wasn’t any geographical contiguity. The situation is not yet beyond repair.

Should the biggest worry then be about the war on terror? We have fought this war for over a decade and without a road map. We have to worry about its outcome and the fact that even the outcome can have a long-lasting impact. The government, our deep state and the opposition need to work together to find a solution. Imran Khan’s decision to leave the country at a time when the government wanted to bring all stakeholders on one table to try to find a solution is not encouraging. But if that changes, a focus on finding solutions will help this country a lot.

As for democracy, I have no doubt that it can take care of itself. We have been worrying for no reason. So, where is the doom and gloom situation? Yes, the current situation is bad but it isn’t life threateningly bad. If we maintain course, our friend will soon come out of coma.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2013.

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