It is a fact that when we come out of our comfort zones, when our consciousness compels us to dig deeper, to seek and ponder and makes us read between the lines, we come across the real picture of how things work, of how incidents and situations are orchestrated. This struggle for the true knowledge opens many avenues for us, provided that we continue to struggle in our journey.
A person living in a village would interpret an incident of his community in his own way with whatever information he has and would architect the interpretation with his thinking which is an amalgamation of his history, customs, and traditions. It is human nature that we have stereotypes regarding the unseen cultures and concepts. Although, when we meet new people from diverse background, it enhances the level of understanding and makes one’s thoughts less restrictive as it helps grasps more angles to a story.
Access to true, authentic and unbiased information and knowledge is very essential for a nation to learn about their history, culture, society and system of governance. I am a confused graduate who studied at one of the best universities in Pakistan. Now, owing to few reasons, I realized that sixteen years of formal education has shaped me in a certain way. The syllabus (particularly subject related to Pakistan study) has made me loyal to the system prevailing at national level. As I grew up, I studied various books on the history of Pakistan that introduced to me a very different yet true picture of our history.
One such example is democracy and the process that are directly or indirectly related to it. Our media always portrays politicians as corrupt and incapable of handling the state affairs. Trumpeting of this notion, in a way, legitimizes military rule. We have been grown up with this mindset and our academic institutions have played their utmost role to give us skewed of history and democracy.
On a cultural exchange program to United States of America, I was given an opportunity to study, analyze and compare the US democracy with that prevailing in Pakistan. I learned that democracy, and the system that implements it, in US is mature, transparent, advanced and based on the belief of performance and delivering services. It was indeed amazing that each president in American history was a visionary and American Revolution gave birth to progressive concepts of liberty, freedom, equality and pursuit of happiness. It took time for democracy to grow and flourish. Ideas mature and revolve over time, so does the democracy. Before learning about US democracy and attending a national conference on democracy titled, “Dialogue and Inclusiveness Central to Democracy”, I was against the democracy and politicians.
I never voted because I had no belief in the democratic political system. This opportunity gave me a chance to meet politicians, workers of political parties (including few close workers of Pakistan People Party), media persons, intellectuals, activists and neutral participants from all around the world. Meeting with them exposed me to few new dimensions of how they are contributing in their capacity towards a greater Pakistan. All participants were representing the youth of Pakistan, they were there to express their opinions, apprehensions and give solutions to the problem that as nation we are facing today. They all were simple “common people” of Pakistan. They showed me a true Pakistan quite different from the one showed in our formal education and media. Unfortunately, in our academic institutions the culture of dialogue is nonexistent. Students are not encouraged to express contradicting ideas. There is a gap between our politicians, their parties and our students.
Democracy is no doubt a western concept, but being future leader we should think that is it compatible with Islam? If so, then why in Islamic world, democracy is struggling to survive? In the subcontinent British introduced the concept of democracy and maintained their governance through reforms and use of various tools like introduction to new technology and other means. We should also touch upon very important dimension of pluralism and diversity and why it is failing in uniting the people of Pakistan.
Generally it can be seen that majority of the youth in Pakistan are not happy with democracy, the politicians and all other institutions that are related to the affairs of the state. The most important point is that there is a need of civic initiative and investing in people as educational society is prerequisites for democracy in Pakistan. It shows the apprehension that how youth look at the practical form of democracy on roads, in parliament, in media and in their daily life
In our society, the evils like intolerance and extremist are penetrating deeply. We are showing impatience publicly, challenging the rule of law and creating a state within a state. After hearing cases studies from Swat and Baluchistan, I realized that it is extremely important and need of the time that we should listen to the inspiration of the residents of the region who have been facing the real situation of extremism, militancy and sectarian clashes on daily basis. Democracy demands that they should be heard, their views should be incorporated in policy making, they should be included in main stream politics and above all they should be given due importance.
Being the future leaders of Pakistan, this lays a heavy responsibility on our shoulders. We, as a nation, are going through the most difficult phase of our history. We should seek the true knowledge and use it to benefit this great nation. We should accept the differences and contradicting ideas at individual level as it is the true essence of democracy.