This is our Time!

By: Agha Haider Raza

Ever since the US got heavily involved in Afghanistan during the Soviet Invasion, we always seem to blame the United States for our misery.  Over the past 30 years, governments have come and gone, while politicians have been assassinated.  Pakistanis have always seemed eager to jump the gun and point fingers at the United States for any hardship faced within our boundaries.  But I ask you, are we incapable as a nation of 175 million, to stand up on our own two feet? We are quick in forming conclusions and finding a target to place our misery upon, but can we not take the blame for our misgivings?

We are only too happy as a nation to criticize the United States.  Agreed, much of the problems we are facing today have risen out of the failed foreign policy that US has administered in the past, but where do we draw the line? Was it the United States that supported the rise of the mujahideen once the Soviet left Afghanistan? Did the United States fund the madrassah’s during the 1990’s in order to breed jihadists to fight in Kashmir? Did the United States support the pre-emptive strike in Kargil?

Pakistanis are quick to point out the negativities of the United States.  We point to the support of Israel, the coup in Iran, the quick exit once the Soviets were defeated, the sanctions of 1998, along with many other shortcomings.  What we fail to understand is how naïve as a nation we have become.  Making this comparison reminds me of the phrase “people in glass houses should not throw stones”.  We are guilty of many issues but yet fail to acknowledge them.

We fail to abide by the basic principles our Quaid set out for us, yet we petulantly criticize the government for not having Mr. Jinnah’s portrait on a particular wall in the presidency.  In his speech on August 11th 1947, the Quaid stated “You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.  [Also], I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or any influence directly of indirectly brought to bear upon me”.

I ask you as a reader, do you believe that after 62 years of independence, have we achieved this vision of our great leader? Have we followed his words of “you are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan.  You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State”.

The double standards we have in our daily lives are one of the primary reasons as to why we have struggled.  We do not have the authority of righteousness.  That lies solely with the Supreme Being.  We however do have the authority of being right.  Once we as a nation cross over this threshold, we get stuck in a whirlpool.  Therefore, I believe our politics should be directed by religion but not dictated.

In order to start our progression upwards, we need to stop our constant comparison with India.  They are a population of a billion people and have a different trajectory in comparison to ours.  If you want to challenge them, do so against their economy.  Challenge India in its textile industry.  Challenge India in its agriculture sector.  Challenge India on its silicon valley.  Military skirmishes are methods of the past, if we must; we need to confront them via economics and not on the battlefield.

Another favorite pastime we Pakistanis enjoy is to blame our leaders.  No doubt a strong and dedicated leader can show us the door, but we have to walk through it.  Blaming our leaders is no solution to the problems we face as a nation today.  They may be corrupt, they may have taken state presents, and they may have frozen all dollar accounts or even have passed on to another world.  But unless we don’t change from within ourselves, we will continue down the same path for the next 62 years.  The passion for us to change our own trajectory needs to come from within us, so that we may become a beacon for other nations to follow.

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