AMAN ALI AAMIR (LEE)
We are breathing in a world where the pace of change is just a matter of seconds. This change can be positive or negative which depends upon how the leadership copes with the situation. Right decision at the right time can convert even a negative thought and tough challenge into an opportunity, otherwise, even a blessing and hope can turn out to be a horrific fiasco. With the advancement of science and technology on each passing day, the world as a whole is incessantly shrinking and as a result the communication among the global masses is on quick rise. This lightning fast change in the relationship at the global scenario has brought a revolution in international relations. Therefore, the precision to foresee a change in the future in this fast transforming world has become a central challenge to the leadership of the time worldwide.
Our beloved country Pakistan, with its over 200 million population and excellent demography, is very much in the process having ambivalent feelings as this densely populated country has utterly failed in taking a key paragon role amidst global phenomenon. The unscrupulous leadership of the country, both political and religious, with heavy mandate to govern the helm of state affairs, is just sitting at the top tier merely projecting personal businesses and protecting vested interests. They have turned almost deaf ears towards globalization and moderation of the contemporary world and as a result, we are still trapped in a rut with the narrow outlook political vision and disruptive short term policies, causing the country to cry in the never ending imbroglio. This myopic vision of our leadership is perhaps one of the major reasons that we are facing the redistributive effects of the exclusive globalization and whirling in the vicious circle of restlessness, finding ourselves in a cul-de-sac. It is an irony that we are still indecisive to decide whether the country should be a secular state in true respect or a purely theocratic state.
Similarly, the yawning difference of the standards of the living and ever widening gulf between the rural and urban areas, is one of the serious unnoticed challenges the country is confronting since its creation. Most probably, this is because we still have embraced the fundamentalism and ignored the demands of this changing modern era. We are still unable to recognize how our societies are deeply divided across the lines of ethnicity, age, gender, sects, race, education, economics and politics. The policy makers of the country who consider themselves inclusive, open, liberal and tolerant don’t know about the nature and diversity of our societies as much as they likely to believe, even the major chunk of our leadership have never bothered to visit and inquire the living conditions in their respective constituencies since the election canvass. It’s shocking that some of them even don’t know the name of their voting districts.
The irony is that the legislature that is responsible to legislate, merely establishes the polices without understanding the nature of our diverse society in its true essence. They also find those established irrational policies persuasive within their own information bubbles, but the reality of the matter is that these steps wouldn’t necessarily mean persuasive and acceptable to those who have not been to the quality education and universities. The dilemma is that they have not got an opportunity to travel and not fully grown up with the fast internet sources. How is it possible that such policies will work smoothly and their benefits will trickle permeate down to the common people? How can one think about national cohesion and integration with such irrational policies? There has been a paradigm shift in the nature of politics today. It is very disappointing to comprehend that majority leadership of our dormant souls still unaware of this paradigm shift, hence running the state almost blindly with no broad vision and clear sense that where the country would be standing some 40 or 50 years later. It must be noted that contemporary politics is not all about regressive traditional taxing and spending or self-serving constitutional amendments and legislation; it is not about sovereignty or territorial integrity; it is not about right and wrong or left and right; it’s no more about dynastic or feudalistic politics of oligarchy; but it is all about globalization, borderless free trade, investment in infrastructure both physical and intellectual, global transaction, movement of free capital and frequent mobilization of assets.
When we talk about globalization in Pakistan, the country has never enjoyed the true spirit of an inclusive globalization. For many years, it has been bearing the brunt of an exclusive globalization which has remained the predominant prerogative of the elite, feudal and tribal class. These feudalists and tribal thinkers saw their avenue to the mainstream politics and power right after the subsequent demise of Father of Nation- Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the first prime minister of the country- Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan which put the country straight in to leadership crisis. The conservative religious political demagogues and the stereotype secular political leaders thus started exploiting the poor people using their jingoistic and chauvinistic slogans of Islam and Pakistan in the political campaigns. The division between the exclusive secular scholars and purely faith oriented clerical scholars historically has too often come in odds with each other and have generated conflicting ideologies. They neither tried to understand the crux of the diverse and pluralistic interpretations of Islamic teachings nor the vision and ideology of Pakistan that our founding fathers envisaged. It is Islam, the only DEEN on the globe which proclaims that spirit and material world are inextricably connected; which insists to never abandon one for the other. It teaches its followers to live in both the worlds fully, courageously and happily. It never demands everyone to be a Muslim, rather it encourages harmony and peaceful co-existence in human race. Ironically neither our religious Ulamas tried to understand this nor the political leaders are ready to embrace this reality.
The worse devil-may-care attitude of the elite class has further demarcated the society across the horrific lines of rich and poor. Elite class is grabbing every opportunity to develop and become richer and richer by devouring the money earned through both legal and illegal means while on the other hand, the alienated poor class is gradually sinking deep in the vicious circle of poverty, hunger and despondency.
When the disgruntled and socio-economically victimized class sees darkness and hopelessness everywhere, it does not hesitate to take ultimate step to announce enough is enough and hence gets ready to take every fair or foul step to come out of the creeping situation. In many parts of the country including interior Sindh, Southern Punjab, FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan and Baluchistan, we have witnessed that the mobilized masses have already begun retreating from nationalism because they feel that they are not being properly represented in the mainstream politics of the country and henceforth looking forward to take the control of their lives and affairs in their own hands. Most probably, this was one of the fundamental reasons that our Eastern-Wing disintegrated from us and emerged on world map as an independent country back in December, 1971. Unfortunately we have not learnt basic lessons from the biggest historical debacle which vivisected our beloved country into two parts. The situation is gradually simmering again and it can rise to the level where it can be lethal and deadly in many parts of the country but the myopic vision of our leadership is not letting them pay heed to this public clamor.
Here it is argued that the scenario has become more complicated and tumultuous in our country. There are some deeper structural-grounded problems which have torn asunder the country’s almost every fabric including socio-political and religio-cultural ethics. It is high time for all of us who have been blessed with the opportunity to mount back in the picture, tackling these problems holistically on a broader spectrum.
Therefore, before suggesting few ideas as starting point, some basic questions need to be reflected upon. The country was achieved on the holy vision of Islamic ideology, but have we ever tried to implement the true teachings of Islam in our practical lives and politics? Was this the vision of our freedom fighters who carved out a land for us after unmatched and untiring efforts to fight and kill each other? Who are we and where are we heading? What we want to achieve in future? Do we have any role in this global village to play? Do we really want to achieve something? If yes, then, we need to come out of our comfort zone after breaking the shackles and be ready to accept the strenuous challenges showing firm resolution to embrace this herculean task of taking out our country from the disastrous situation so that it could be built on firm foundation.
We need deep contemplation and introspection which can awake our dormant soul with the realization that we have been left far behind in every race and are detracted from the envisaged path given by our fore-fathers. We had started our journey back in 1947, or more precisely in March-1940 with a great resolution, determination, hope and enthusiasm to make our country a modern Islamic state. But today we have lost that beacon of hope and we stand in complete darkness with no visible light all around. The nation as a whole is despondently standing in state of hopelessness, helplessness, powerlessness and restlessness, where destruction and frustration has become our only fate.
We can’t afford to allow this to foster further, therefore, a remedy should be found out to stop the carnage downslide motion on the urgent basis. Now it is the right time for us to define all the parameters of the state on the international standards and modern needs. The modern ideas of diversity, moderation, pluralism, cosmopolitan ethic must be understood at an early stage to the depth and should be implemented in our society.
It would be a great unjust if it is not mentioned that our country is blessed with opportunities and blessings to develop and prosper. We have fertile land, adequate water resources with well-coordinated canal system which can produce enough crops and surplus energy if managed well. We have untapped mineral resources available in our land and mountains; above all we have world’s best demographics which can be mobilized to achieve any level of advancement and progress. Luckily our Islamic civilization doesn’t run in odds to moderation and globalization which is yet another powerful stimulus and driving force in our efforts to make our country progressive and forward-looking.
The main argument and total effort in this article is to just analyze a single terminology of the modern world and that is the “Inclusive Globalization”. Poor understanding and narration of this global force has severely hampered the prosperity of our society to a large extent and it has thus become a breeding ground for every problem and social evil. We are suffering from the ugly and antagonist face of exclusionary globalization which has taken us down to a level where we have hit the rock bottom and there is hardly any place for us to go down further. This exclusive globalization has become cataclysmic event with some serious repercussions and redistributive impacts on our rich and diverse society to which, many of us have already been witness.
Therefore, we urgently need to approach more broadly to infuse a new vision and the narration of globalization especially to those who have been ignored and hence sidelined in almost every state affair since the inception of our country. The new vision and narration would be the Inclusive Globalization which would be a win-win for all of us. It would be inclusive-globalization which takes along everyone without leaving anybody behind on the development track irrespective of discrimination, cast distinction, race, color, sect and ethnicity. The new jargons of economy including free market & trade, flow of capital, FDI would benefit everyone on aggregate which would ensure that every socio-economic and financial national policy benefits must trickle permeate down to the local people. The consensus among the leadership that communication links bring interdependence and harmonious coexistence among provinces, which will bring cooperation and peace among the people as a whole. It is clear that stronger coordination across the lines of division could assist new doors of hope and opportunity without creating exclusive winners and losers. Only then the masses start to build confidence on their leadership and gather momentum towards emancipation. Such an Inclusive Globalization will see the differences not as source of worry or burden, but blessing and strength.
Having said that all, at the same time it must be noted and kept in mind that the frequent communications could have worse repercussions as well, if not handled rightly and correctly. More information on our finger tips can lead to more errors, exaggeration, misinformation or disinformation and propaganda which could lead to more impulsive and imprudent judgments. The incalculable flow of information and knowledge can generate a strong ambivalence in the thought process of the nation. Therefore, the incumbent leadership role in such circumstances becomes very crucial, otherwise more communication can cause more confrontation, and even more connectivity to more disconnection.
There are some key requirements which could act as ingredients for an inclusive globalization to work. I would try to pick few of the basic elements and try to illustrate their significance.
I am highly convinced that the basic driver of any process to work is quality of knowledge and education. Generally this process will lie on the two fronts our varsities at one end of the spectrum and early childhood education with a holistic vision of long term strategy on the other. These sustainable educational efforts will then blessed the country with strong leadership, which the country is crying for so long.
The second idea which relates to the education is civic education. What stands out from the current frustration and unrest is the wide gap between the leadership perception and empirical reality. We have been told that the global society has transformed to post-factual society where truth and evidence no longer matter and the deceit or lies have almost the equal status compared to clarity of the evidence. Therefore, it is a matter of great contemplation for the responsible citizens of the country to think how to build respect and homage for evidence and truth in our liberal thinking domain. It starts with education and more focused civic education, but it has to begin with the acceptance at the leadership level that there are wide cracks and open gaps in our societies and the civic education has virtually no existence. These, I think are the key aspects of globalization. These key aspects cannot be put only on the educational institutions of our country as a burden, though they are significant players in the process but civic education is lifelong self-learning phenomenon of civic participation and constructive public engagement.
With this, the next idea that is we need more responsible politics today. The prevailing dirty politics, which has been corroding the very nature of society and has devoured almost every true global opportunities for so long, should be thwarted and washed away completely. Our diverse community needs liberal, stable and dynamic political system with a much broader and wide open vision within the domains of Islamic moral code of conduct. A political system which is open, participatory, liberal and tolerant enough to encourage frequent communication in the community. Such well-thought out process incorporates a vision of inclusive globalization that brings the masses from every part of the society rather leaving them behind in state of fear and alienation causing the shenanigan feelings of xenophobia, intolerance, apprehension and racist abuse.
This realization of the responsible politics should start with the fact that if a community or state is fully equipped with a sagacious and well-acumen leadership then the globalization becomes responsible and thoughtful key aspect of cosmopolitan ethic. Such realization brings respect with honor and dignity, that what we have in common and what makes us different. This harmonious cohesion of diverse and tolerant society leads to what I call pluralistic society which embraces, welcomes and comprehends the diverse interpretations and differences; ultimately recognizing the fact that we all are born of a single soul and we seek our descent from the progeny of Adam and mother Eve. Though we are spread abroad in diverse communities around the world but we share a common, the most profound and sacrosanct idea that is common humanity. As the Holy Book of Allah, Al-Quran reminds us that “O’ mankind fear God who has created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women”. This outlook and teaching has been central to Islamic faith that remained at the heart of Islamic tradition.
Finally, it is important to realize the genuine role of the media which is one of the essential component to strengthen globalization if it is committed to embrace criterion set by international standards. The modern era demands freedom of speech and freedom of expression. But in our country, this freedom of media has created some strong ambivalence where this media-freedom needs continuing vigilance and check, because freedom in any area of human interaction and activity does not mean the moral decadence and a license to violate the essence of freedom. We are living in an age of advancement and globalization where information can travel with an ever quick pace. But too often the quick information explosion itself has become an information glut, implying more of high premium on being first and getting the due attention rather than being the right one and earning respect. Hence, there is a great need to increase vigilance about safeguarding, protecting and raising our media’s environment. The quality of journalism, reporting and coverage must better prepared to sustain our culture and identity. This include some quality ingredients which are indispensable to all the media groups for their positive impacts, for example, spirited discussion on screens, an in-depth intellectual inquiry of issues, informed logical critics on socio-political and religious issues and above all, the rational and principled disagreement. In addition to this, media obligation and well defined professional competence is almost nothing to the moral and ethical imperative. These all are again rooted in to my first idea that is better and quality education.
It can fairly be concluded that the globalization is not a product anymore, but it has become an essential evolutionary part of our lives. We cannot achieve a quantum leap and sustainable development without fully embracing the notion of inclusive globalization. If we project our minds beyond 21st century without inclusive globalization, then we’ll clearly see an existential threat to our survival with a grim determination. Pakistan has been awarded with every opportunity and abundant resources to rise to become a stable, dynamic, democratic and progressive Islamic welfare state. The only thing we need is the infusion of an inclusive globalization. Otherwise the prosperity of our country will be drowned in the deep ocean of narrow outlook and exclusive view of the globalization of leaders-God forbid.
The contributor is a lecturer at Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, Gahkuch, Gilgit.
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