What’s the point?
Farrukh Khan PitafiMarch 25, 2023
The writer is an Islamabad-based TV journalist. He tweets @FarrukhKPitafi and can be reached at email@example.com
How many times must we ask the same question? Why bother, what’s the point?
Who doesn’t know Pakistan grapples with many intricate and interconnected obstacles that hinder its development and stability? These obstacles include, but are not limited to, political unrest, economic turbulence, terrorism, natural disasters, and skyrocketing inflation. What’s the point? You invariably get the same answers and solutions. Everyone knows what to do but chooses to do something else.
Take its battered economy, for instance, which has always struggled. In recent years, the country has teetered on the brink of default several times while its debt levels have soared to unsustainable heights. Although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has extended several bailout packages to Pakistan, these measures have come with stringent conditions and failed to put the country on a sustainable path to growth. We are still waiting for the conclusion of recent talks with the fund. You will be surprised to know how many former Pakistani office bearers are currently lobbying against it. One of them should know he is being watched.
We are also told some glimmers of hope remain. For one, the country boasts a youthful and burgeoning populace that can serve as a fountainhead of innovation and labour in the coming years. Moreover, Pakistan is endowed with a wealth of natural resources, including minerals and arable land, which can be harnessed to propel growth and development. We say that and punish the arable land by converting it into mud brick ghettos.
Another significant challenge facing Pakistan is political instability. The nation has a history of military coups and political unrest, and its government has struggled to maintain continuity and stability. This instability has made it difficult for Pakistan to implement effective policies and make long-term plans to address its numerous challenges. In addition, Pakistan’s relations with other countries in the region, particularly neighbouring India, have sometimes been fraught with tension. People have proposed the idea of a grand national dialogue. Sure. But where would you hold these talks? In Zaman Park, barracks or ante-rooms of courts?
Terrorism poses another serious challenge for Pakistan. The nation has long been a target of terrorist groups, including the Taliban and al-Qaeda, with numerous deadly attacks on its soil over the years. While Pakistan has made strides in combating terrorism, recently, some unfortunate policy choices and resulting reverses have resurrected the spectre. Many think it was done to please the religious elements in the country and on the western border. Some ask if it was done to appease religious elements on the eastern border.
Pakistan has also weathered a series of natural disasters in recent years, including devastating floods that displaced millions of people. These disasters have further exacerbated the nation’s already scant resources and made it challenging for the government to address other challenges. The government has collaborated with international organisations to improve disaster preparedness and response while also making efforts to strengthen infrastructure and build resilience in vulnerable areas. Nevertheless, much must be done to address the underlying causes of natural disasters, such as deforestation and climate change.
High levels of inflation have posed significant obstacles for Pakistan in recent times. The cost of essential goods and services has skyrocketed, making it challenging for many.
There is a growing disillusionment with the country’s current state of affairs. Many believe that the nation has lost its sense of purpose and is adrift in a sea of ineffectiveness. However, for years I have argued that we should try to rekindle the flame of Pakistan’s national dream and create a brighter future for the country.
The key to reinventing Pakistan’s national dream is to focus on what matters most to the people. This means investing in education, healthcare, and infrastructure, as well as fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. By doing so, Pakistan can become a hub for technological innovation and economic growth, creating jobs and opportunities for its citizens. But they are long-term solutions. No one has patience for that.
Of course, reinventing Pakistan is no easy task. It requires the cooperation and collaboration of all segments of society, including the government, civil society, and the private sector. It also requires a fundamental shift in how Pakistanis think about their country and their role in it. Only by working together and embracing a shared vision of the future can Pakistan genuinely fulfil its potential. The first step towards achieving this goal is to redefine what the national dream means to the people of Pakistan. This requires a collective vision based on inclusivity, diversity, and mutual respect.
Furthermore, it is crucial to identify the challenges that Pakistan is currently facing and to develop sustainable solutions to overcome these challenges. These solutions must be rooted in innovation, technology, and progressive thinking, and they must be accessible to all segments of society.
Can’t do that? Okay, then get people riled up about ideological or jingoistic nonsense. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense. There are enough channels to keep repeating your talking points ad nauseam. Remember, if you repeat a lie long enough, it stops being a lie. Pakistan’s history has been marked by many challenging periods, each with its own unique set of difficulties and consequences. While it is difficult to identify a single era as the most damaging, it is clear that Pakistan has faced significant challenges in many areas, including politics, security, economics, and social development. Do you know what saved every regime’s bacon? Lies.
So why bother? What is the point? I haven’t got a clue except for this excerpt from Boston Legal. See if it works.
“Alan Shore: Why do we bother?
Denny Crane: The question, Mr. Shore, is the enemy of progress. If you question everything, you won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.
Alan Shore: But shouldn’t we question? Shouldn’t we ask ourselves why we bother?
Denny Crane: No, no, no. Why bother is the enemy. Questioning is fine, so long as you’re asking yourself, ‘Why not bother?’”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2023.