Give me back my old Pakistan

Published: December 28, 2014
The writer is an educationist who has served in Pakistan Navy

The writer is an educationist who has served in Pakistan Navy

Personally, I shudder at the thought of ‘new’ Pakistan. More than 40 years ago, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto declared the emergence of a new Pakistan on the ashes of the vestiges of old Pakistan. What transpired next is history. The dilution of religion and politics, nationalisation of the education sector, language riots in Sindh, promulgation of the quota system, dismantling of the erstwhile Civil Service of Pakistan, and the list goes on. Imran Khan will do the nation a service by working towards the ‘old’ Pakistan rather than talking about a ‘new’ Pakistan.

Born in the 1950s, I was amongst the first generation that was born after Partition. Back then, we led a simple life but one marked with peace and civility. Growing up in old Pakistan, I only have pleasant memories from that time. The mornings would lighten up with the voices of K L Saigal and his contemporaries from Radio Ceylon. College canteens would witness contrasting images, where at one end comrades would be discussing Marxist literature, while at the other end, there would be those who would perform renditions of the latest Indian movies. Imagine this happening in a simple town in rural Sindh, Larkana!

Life in Karachi was as happening as in any other city of Europe. There was no threat of any sort in the cities where houses would be demarcated, not with high walls but hedged with fencing. Trams plied the roads, only stopping at their designated stops. Newspapers would carry announcements of dance performances at nightclubs and heavens did not fall when the construction of a mega casino was undertaken in Karachi.

Those were the times when Rabiul Awal and Muharram were marked with the same fervour as Christmas and Diwali. My hometown, Larkana, would play host to literary festivals attracting some of the heavyweights of the nation’s literati. We had a teeming children’s library in the town hall conceived by my late father and some bankers. Sometimes, a white four-wheeler with licence plate number LA 128 would park on my college premises and Bhutto would disembark and visit the principal and mingle with students. College proceedings wouldn’t halt with his visit, no minions brandishing weapons would clear space for him and no commotion would ensue. In short, life was joyful in my old Pakistan.

Recently, I got a glimpse of the New Pakistan. Teens wielding sticks and commandeering traffic were heralding the shutdown announced by the PTI. It was a successful strike but at the cost of billions of rupees to the exchequer. Nevertheless, I for one want to see change. I have seen the good days of this country. If there’s anyone who knows what we had, it is my generation; and IK is part of it. What sets apart my Old Pakistan from the New Pakistan is the presence of institutions back then. Acclaimed writers like Niall Fergusson and Francis Fukuyama both talk about the exigency of potent institutions for the success of nations. Unfortunately, like Bhutto, Imran is also taking a swing at what is left of some of the institutions in the country. As much as we all detest paying taxes to this inept government, enticing people to abstain from paying them would further embolden it to shed its responsibility. If Imran wants a revolution, he must ask his supporters to work for an extra hour at their respective workplaces or better, go to their workplaces on Sundays to mark their protest. With so much ill-advice being given to IK, mine would be to work for a model province in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. I would want to live in this province if it reminds me of my Old Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th,  2014.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Parvez
    Dec 29, 2014 - 12:11AM

    Sir, the dividing line was not really drawn by ZAB it was drawn by Zia, when he decided to ‘ drop ‘ religion onto this country. We were already a religious people, what he did was distorted the narrative for a particular agenda …..and to this day we suffer. Lets he honest here, its the people that have suffered, those of your ilk have it good…… it in old Pakistan or New Pakistan.


  • Vik Joshi
    Dec 29, 2014 - 12:27AM

    Sir, this write-up of yours brought TEARS to my eyes… seriously. I wasn’t lucky enough to be born or living at that time… I have grown up in the “new” whichever country (Amreeka, India or South Africa or Australia…, it does not matter – or even if it is Pakistan, then so be it!) … seriously, somewhere… somehow, we have… ALL of us… have just ‘lost it’. Full stop.


  • AShah
    Dec 29, 2014 - 12:44AM

    Yes I remember that pakistan before I left the country for good since i did have the option to do so 18 years ago. Unfortunately if you want to look at Pakistan ! what all this about is the Soul of Punjab ! establishment is from their ! the Punjabi Talibanand the established Madressa’s belong to southern Punjab How many in Sindh or Baluchistan Care about kashmir None ! How many in the other province hate India none ! unfortunately give or take a few years their will be No ! pakistan Mark my words !


  • Tousif Latif
    Dec 29, 2014 - 12:47AM

    What a beauiful country you inherited and what a mess bequeathed.Now we cannot imagine that once our motherland had such pluralistic and positive social fabric.Now book reading and libraries are out of fashion.Cinema is so costly an entertainment that it has become a preserve of the elite.Let us all contribute to reverse the tides and transform this country into a haven of peace and prosperity.Recommend

  • F Khan
    Dec 29, 2014 - 12:47AM

    Khan Sb is in no mood to listen to anyone. First he thought all the ills in this country is because of our judiciary and then he thought it is because of corruption and then he said that it the election system and now he thinks that anyone who’s last name is Sharif is the only problem to this country.He with his single track fans want a leader as PM and believe that he will bring a revolution which will solve all the problems of this country in 30 days.Commander Sb. our is a nation which has only one way of learning and that is by falling in the gutter.Let them have their say.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Dec 29, 2014 - 12:49AM

    Naya Pakistan slogan is already in the drain and Imran has become a Bheegi Billi.


  • Anarchist
    Dec 29, 2014 - 2:42AM

    ‘Imran is also taking a swing at what is left of some of the institutions in the country’. The problem is there is nothing left (to speak of) of state institutions from police to judiciary. I mean where state institutions are used as private properties of rulers and bureaucracy and where even SC judges can be bought, what more can one say about dismal state of affairs.

    And working one, two or even three hours extra wont change the status-quo.


  • Dec 29, 2014 - 7:42AM

    The writer seem to have forgotten that ZAB divided the country in two to gain power and ever since Pakistan can not come out of StonAge.


  • Milind
    Dec 29, 2014 - 11:05AM

    Your description fits India as well, as I hear it from my parents/grandparents ( I myself too experienced quite a bit of it in the 80s).

    This makes me want to go to the ‘Purana India’… Agreed our security is not in dire straits as in Pakistan, but a lot of ‘development’ has ruined it here and we now have ‘Naya India’.


  • Ranjha
    Dec 29, 2014 - 3:01PM

    @F Khan:

    He with his single track fans want a leader as PM

    I am one of the IK fans you derided in your comments above. If it helps you, get rid of the trash we have now and instead of Imran, I would propose we make YOU or the WRITER of this pathetic piece the PM. Happy now?

    It is not about making Imran PM, it is about saving our country from the imbeciles, lechers, looters and their sympathisers, leeching off a comfortable living of of the “old” Pakistan.


  • Atif
    Dec 29, 2014 - 7:02PM

    Sir, living in the past is different from imagining and enacting a better future.

    If you asked the ‘mature’ residents of ANY country, they would recall their past with greater fondness.

    Further, Do not confuse the destination with the journey. The only reason Imran and PTI suggested shut downs was because their legitimate request for a vote recount was ignored at every level.

    Pakistan is where it is because too many good people did nothing when Iskindar Mirza, Ayub, Bhutto, and Yahya imposed martial law, when Zia encouraged linguistic and ethnic parties to step in for political parties, when the ‘agencies’ patronized ‘good Taleban’, when Musharraf argued for the distinction between Al-Qaeda and Taleban, when the premier institution in the country saw and argued for the ‘Afghanistan strategic depth strategy’…. You don’t get to where you are overnight. It’s a collective failing.

    If ‘Naya Pakistan’ does one thing and one thing alone: encourage people to ask for their rights and demand justice and accountability from the rulers, it will become a much better society to live in… Not just for select beneficiaries of a corrupt system, but for everyone.


  • Afsheen Javed
    Dec 29, 2014 - 7:54PM

    I was not born in the 1950s but in 1987 and I would gladly swap “naya” Pakistan for the “old” Pakistan. Neither am I from an “elite” family. The old Pakistan had many inequalities and problems but nothing like what we have now. Yes the old days were better and the good old days should be an inspiration for a new Pakistan.


  • nizamuddin khan
    Dec 29, 2014 - 8:14PM

    I do appreciate where the write is going with this piece. It may not be IK who brings about the change we need or the Army…it is what we let ourselves become and teach our next generation. Let us say that there is a place that offers us what we had in the (good) old Pakistan and we could go and live there even today…if that place happens to be in India…would you go and live there and leave your beloved country behind? May be not…since deep down we still see enough good things around us to keep us going and hoping for even better days.


  • Rex Minor
    Dec 29, 2014 - 10:03PM

    The Commander means well but should know that not withstanding Pakistan special situation, the law of physics dictate that the world is moving from past order to future disorder! We have the technical means to go into future but have not yet developed a vehicle to return us back to past?.

    Rex Minor


  • Shamim raza
    Dec 29, 2014 - 10:30PM

    I endorse the views given by the essay writer on “old Pakistan”.It used to be a beautiful country,,I remember evening walk at the Lhr. Mall road(Thandi Sarak),visit to library at “Jinnah Gardens ,drive on the Lhr.canal from Mall Road to Thokar Niaz Baig ,what a beautiful time it was ,all gone,we have made this country a rubbish depot. The leaders like IK and others of his like are destroying our values,our family life,culture of respect ,discipline on priority for fulfilling their own ends.


  • Dec 30, 2014 - 7:03AM

    Dipak@Rex Minor:
    And you never will. Your past was based on India. Your future will always be based on Pakistan.


  • Pankaj
    Dec 30, 2014 - 9:56AM

    Really ? you wan Pak of Ayub khan?
    or pak of 70’s when country was divided ? or of 80’s when you started destroying your economy by supporting terror in Kashmir ?
    or of 90’s with another coup or of 2000’s ?
    which old pakistan you want ?
    only pakistan that had a future was one with india. you have alreaady lost that!


  • Np
    Dec 30, 2014 - 11:13AM

    THe old pakistan you describe is the one that had strong Ondian influence. Gradually and by design that Indian influence hasbeen removed. The Pakistan today is the one Jinnah spoke of as part of TNT where people of two different faith could not live together.


  • Zaida
    Dec 30, 2014 - 11:53AM

    Moral of the Story: NEVER Play with Religion !


  • Pankaj
    Dec 30, 2014 - 12:13PM

    very true !
    TNT has extended to MNT. and in its extended version any two persons with difference in their opinions can never live together !


  • salman
    Dec 30, 2014 - 3:48PM

    So let me summarize the article

    old Pakistan – great!
    new Pakistan under IK – bad!
    Current Pakistan under zardari/Nawaz/status quo – no comment!


  • Oats
    Dec 30, 2014 - 9:15PM

    @salman: I think we would all welcome Naya pakistan by Imran Khan if he were elected but if he keeps up with Dharnas and tries to come in by revolution, he is worse than Old Pakistan. If Imran doesn’t learn to work within system, I prefer Nawaz Sharif because at least he gives the country stability and roads.


  • Yo2Da2
    Dec 30, 2014 - 9:48PM

    y@Afsheen Javed: But do not forget that the population today is almost six times what it was in 1947 – it makes governing and hope for widespread prosperity much more difficult. Even though population was rising fast even in the 1950s, the author and his generation still had lots of land to build dreams on. Having not addressed the population problem for the past 67 years, all South Asian countries will face a bleaker future. Imran is no miracle worker.


  • Singh
    Dec 30, 2014 - 9:51PM

    @Ranjha: Did you read or jump to conclusion.
    IK is Pathetic sick person who need medical help.


  • Yo2Da2
    Dec 30, 2014 - 9:54PM

    @Rex Minor: A lot of old-timers, who experienced better days, pine for the past. And a growing group of people want to take Pakistan (and the Middle East) further into the past, if you know what I mean. But life goes on and we have to handle problems that we face today as they are not going to vanish. Kicking the ball down the road is not an option.Recommend

  • Yo2Da2
    Dec 30, 2014 - 9:56PM

    @Oats: Reminds me of the old witticism: What if there was a revolution and no one came?


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