Sat. Mar 25th, 2023

Who’s to blame?

By Nigah Shah

Stories are powerful. True or not, they definitely help explain complex issues in an understndable manner.

It is said that there once was a driver who was in the public transportation business. One day he ran into a major accident on Ishkoman road. He luckily survived but his vehicle was damaged. He then had to spend a lot of money to repair his vehicle and bring it back to operational condition. Following the repair work, he finally was back on the roads again. One day he was on the same road crossing the same spot where his vehicle had an accident. He wanted to explain the story to someone in the vehicle and while explainig the story he ran into another accident at the same spot! He survived agains, but wrecked his vehicle in the process. For lack of better explanation, people, including the driver, blamed fate for the accidents.

Years later, when many similar accident were recorded at the same spot, it transpired that the accidents may have been caused by faults in the constrution of the road; there was a sharp turn that made vechicles eaisly slide off the road, espeacially in bad weather conditions.

The moral of the story is that the driver blamed his fate, because he did not know that there was a fault in the construction design. What happened to him was more a result of an error than fate!

Blaming fate for all our misfortuntes is in vogue across our beloved country, Pakistan. This national psyche translates into our governance structure and politics, including in Gilgit-Baltisan, up to the village level political thoughts and beliefs. This hinders our ability to develop a more objective understnading of factors at play, depriving us of the long term vision to rectify our problems. We don’t learn from our mistakes and this has led us to a situation where we are standing now; a lost nation, or a herd without any sense of direction to be more precisely!

I may sound very pessimistic but the truth is there is nothing standing in a good shape as of today in our country. I do not want to give you false hopes. The reality is that we have a fragile governance structure. Power remains concentrated in a few hands. We have a dystopian civil society. Our education, health, infrastructure, law and order, political instability and our economy are in such a bad shape that we are not only at the brink of a default, but there is no clear way out of this mess.

Countries like Japan defaulted during WW2 but they had a system and a determination in place which helped them compelety tranform their society, despite of facing horrific losses. We haven’t faced anything like that but we are worst off. We have a lot of resources, including talented human resources, but we are living from one IMF bailout to the next, years after year.

The question is who is to be blamed for all of this?

Should we blame our politicians, whose primary job is to secure votes on religious, ethnic and linguistic lines with huge investment in the voting process which later results into corruption, rentseeking and kickbacks to compensate for this electoral investment? Far from their mandated task that is to make peopleistic policies, legislation and power devolution, they instead kept themselves busy playing in the hands of other ‘powers’, while stacking offshore wealth. Towering claims of being ‘custodians of democracy’, yet unwilling of letting someone else to lead out of their families as the dynastic politics of the country trends for 75 years now.

Should we blame our judiciary, whose duty is to keep the constitution intact and enforce the law in its true spirit, but they instead piled up mountains of pending cases in their courts and making justice out of the reach of a common man! Always backing up the ‘doctrine of necessity’, with a performance so poor that they are ranking below 100th number in the world for provision of justice. Despite all of this they demand respect. And those who don’t “respect” their follies, face the “contempt of court”! Fuurthermore they have miserably failed to dispense their mandate of justice in the stuggle between whom to upease, the politicians or the army bypassing constitution.

Should we blame our religious leaders, who were supposed to eliminate elements of hatred from our societies and preach the real essence of Islam, peace and love for all, but who have instead become tools of spreading violence, sectarianism and penetration of religion into politics? We have all the evil existing in our society, yet these ‘leaders’ have the audacity to lecture the world on ethics and morality. Keeping the pluralistic nature of religious orientation, they instead work twoards homogenious trends, usually taking inspiration from the theocratic state.

Should we blame our media? In any democracy media is expected to be the main tool of keeping an eye on the performance of government and to raise the voice of the masses. On the contrary our mainstream media has always been stooges of those in power, making billions in revenues! Spreading fake, propaganda and polarised news and no constructive debate to be seen on any platform appears to be the norm. Despite of all this, they cry for ‘independent media’. The ideologies that are being disimnated through this partisian media secures the intrests of the status quo and bares any normal citizen to think out of the parameters they are defining. I hope we will not turn towards facisim as this was the case in Mousilini’s Italy and Weimar Republic.

Should we blame our law enforcement agencies? Their primary responsibility is to ensure law and order, securing our borders and maintaining peace by all means. They have done everything else except maintenance of peace and keeping our land safe from terrorists. Their role could be well explained as jack of all and master of none! The executive power of that state is now turning into a RSA (Repressive State Apparatus), as Gramsci calls it, whose primary task has now been to coerce people to consent to the domains of power. The irony is, if you criticize any of the above entities, you are labbeled as anti-democracy, anti-state, traitor, kafir, foreign agent and what not.

Last, but not least, should we blame ourselves? We as citizens, do we abide by the law? Where does out morality stands? Have we commited to enviromental causes and try to start reforms within ourselves? Are we as citizens aware of our rights? What do we owe to the state?

No we don’t!

We don’t pay our due taxes! We don’t live as a civilized society be it during protest strikes or public demonstation. We don’t care about public properties. We are not sincere with our jobs. Corruption has literally become a part of our DNA, and yet we expect our leaders to be “Sadiq” and “Ameen”.

I guess the coin has both sides. We can start the reforms within ourselves and exercise our democratic right to choose leaders who serve us and our country, not their own interests.

In a nutshell, everyone has in one way or another, lesser or more, played his/her role in the destruction of our country and dreams of our founding fathers. I am worried that this situation may last forever, unless we wake up, own up to our mistakes and learn our lesson, because it’s never too late.

Otherwise, just like the driver on Ishkoman road, we will keep blaming our fate without understanding the factors involved.

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