By Ghalib Sultan
Area 14/8

Lahore hosted diplomats and other foreign dignitaries including the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey at the launch of the new metro bus mass transit system. The launch ceremony went well and Lahorites hoped and prayed that the metro bus is a success and serves the masses. Unfortunately not everyone thought it was a great step forward. A former Chief Minister chose that occasion to run down his successor and the bus project. A minister termed the project ‘illegal’ as it was without federal approval and hinted at a corruption probe. Again this was timed with the launch event because such misgivings were never voiced in all the months that it took to complete the project. It is an election year and there is political polarization of the worst kind but shouldn’t the country take precedence over politics? In our ambition to outdo each other in proving loyalties to parties should Pakistan be publicly run down?

The present government is completing its 5 year tenure and the country is gearing up for elections. A caretaker government should take over soon. The Judiciary is functioning. The Military is doing its job. Politicians are busy doing what they do before elections-run down each other and extol their own virtues. The Tahirul Qadri intervention is being taken in stride for what it is-part of the political power play. Suddenly we have voices-responsible voices-talking about conspiracies by mysterious quarters to delay elections and prolong the caretaker arrangement. What does this say about Pakistan? That we cannot have elections? That we do not want to have elections? That we are doing what we do best-running down our own institutions? That,having made all the preparations,including setting up of an election commission,we now want to scuttle all that and start afresh? How does all this help our image?

Pakistan is in the grip of terrorist violence. There are economic problems. The government has problems in delivering governance. There is internal security and instability. Is any of this a surprise and reason enough to tell the world that we are failing,that there is no hope,that we are falling apart and that we cannot protect our assets because our security apparatus is penetrated by our enemies? Pakistan is in an area that has seen four decades of violence. Its policies have been framed by an authoritarian structure that has now been sidelined. The people want democracy and they want policies that create internal and external harmony. They will brook no interference from those who have other agendas. If this government has had difficulty in delivering all this then it has surely created the space for the next government to deliver. Isn’t this what we should be projecting to our people and the world? Shouldn’t we be focusing on what has actually been achieved?

Are we looking beyond our petty rivalries and vendettas at the bigger picture taking shape around us? The Arab Spring,Iran’s struggle,the US plans for the Pacific and its relationship with India and the South East Asian States,China’s growing power,a Russia that is consolidating ,an Afghanistan that may stabilize and the ‘new silk road’ idea. There are vast opportunities and challenges for Pakistan if we can understand and exploit our strengths instead of forever moaning and groaning about our problems and weaknesses.


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