By: Agha Haider Raza
Over the past week Pakistan has read many different news items. From the passing of the 18th amendment to the bomb blast at the US Consulate, much is happening. Some may say the stories are for the betterment of our country while others may disagree. In my mind the successful visit of the Foreign Minister and his entourage to the United States gave Pakistan some much needed positive press. However, the current witch-hunt carried out by the Chief Justice and the ugly battle over the reopening of Zardari’s corruption cases has embarrassed many of those who fought for the independence of the judiciary. Now do not get me wrong, as much as I enjoyed protesting on the streets of Lahore for the reinstatement of the nation’s top judge, I can’t fathom Mr. Iftikhar’s current agenda of picking and choosing his enemies. When will we be able to see actual results from the “democratically” elected officials and the “independent” judiciary we as a nation have struggled to achieve for 62 years? When will stop pointing fingers and vilifying those whom we disagree with? Or have we gotten used to being stuck in this whirlpool of revengeful politics. Honestly, we Pakistanis have gotten sick and tired of the lies and broken promises.
Some journalists and media personalities are articulate with words and have a knack of morphing history to suit their own needs. While others use their blogs and websites to hatch conspiracy theories, castigating ‘Imperialistic America’. Many journalists, who write with a vengeance, have a biased perception. These fear mongering columnists truly baffle the mind for it is unfortunate how upon gaining “independence” they still write according to the old playbook of instilling fear and playing with the emotions of us citizens. Rather than encouraging positive criticism of the government, and showing the way forward by holding the three arms of state accountable, the media looks to vilify anybody they see fit, courtesy of their talk shows and newspaper columns.
From blaming Shahbaz Sharif of instigating ethnic violence due to his “Save Punjab” comment to blaming the Pakistan Army for their strategic depth policy of breeding the Taliban, we as a nation have refused of undertaking responsibility for our own actions. Taking the easy route for the short-term gains against investing in the long-term goals has led us to an energy shortfall, water crisis and now rice shortage. We cannot suffer anymore. The 170 million Pakistanis cannot suffer anymore. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi recently stated Pakistan has endured 31,000 casualties since the initiation of the war against the militants in our country. With our external security threatened due to the existence of militants and the internal safety looking bleak because of inflation, energy shortage and other domestic problems, our country is at a critical juncture.
The latest Gallup Polls shows 51% of Pakistanis identify high costs, financial problems, and poverty as the most important problems. This clearly represents the lack of unity amongst the citizens of our country. With 31,000 dead it truly is mind boggling the seriousness by which we treat death and the threat to our survival. Where is the passion of rallying around the flag under the crescent and star? I am not marginalizing the seriousness of familial issues we face today, but with suicide bombings killing sons, daughters, fathers and mothers, inflation is the least of family concerns.
With such grave concerns facing our country, it is pathetic when Zaid Hamid shows up at Al-Hamra and adds fuel to the very flame burning our families. It is nauseating to see the government enjoying a VVIP culture with their Mercedes and colossal mansions, it is tiring to see the Chief Justice vilify those who displease him, and it is repulsive when Nawaz Sharif is adamant on becoming the Prime Minister rather than playing the role of an assisting opposition.
A unified approach is exactly what the doctor has ordered for carrying Pakistan through the turbulent times we are experiencing today. The politics of revenge has been a big turn off, and it is high time the government stop using the phrase “political reconciliation” for they have lost its true meaning. The current government may enjoy the bunkers provided by the Presidents house and the Prime Minister house, but if our problems are not looked after and the bombings are not stopped, they may be seeing themselves living in barracks. The PPP currently enjoy the perks and privileges of a majority, but as John Boehner stated “the moment a majority forgets [the problems], it starts writing itself a ticket to minority status”.
The monotonous routine of issuing messages of condemnation and condolences from the government after every suicide blast needs to stop. I am tired of reading “we denounce the attack…we will provide the best medical facilities”. Why have our politicians let it come to such a point? The clock is ticking. Both the government and opposition need to have the audacity to take responsibility of our woes. We have not put them in office to siphon money into offshore bank accounts nor have we elected them to place stuffed tigers at their farmhouses.
Have the decency to respect the people who have elected you to your office. You gave us a promise. One that was to better our standard of living, to improve our shattered economy and to provide us with peace and security. We may not have the privilege of having a mile long entourage or a traffic free ride when driving on the road, but we surely have the vote to rid you of such perks. Do not prod us further or take us for granted, be mindful of our vote, for we are sick and tired.