Dr. Aamir Ejaz @ThePseudoDr
The writer is a doctor turned civil servant with an interest in art, literature, and politics.
Who among us is unfamiliar with the perennial love story of Hellen of Sparta and Paris of troy and the subsequent catastrophic events that led to the decimation of the Kingdom of Priam-Unconquerable Troy? Are we not familiar with Hernan Cortez’s disease of the heart that can only be cured with the Gold of Tenochtitlan? The march of the protestant faith in the era of uncertainty and unchecked vagaries of the Popes. Or for that matter the quest for independence of the thirteen colonies- from the very people of the same unpigmented skins. Now, on the face of it, these stories tell a different tale, a romance, a disease, divinity, and freedom. But deep down these stories represent the destinies of people, most importantly a nation. Barbara W. Tuchman characteristically calls them follies. The follies of epic proportions were followed blindly with the singular mind devoid of any semblance of care for the future or posterity. We will call them just as the author did in her book, policies that were contrary to self-interest.
Pakistan for the past seventy-five years has been following an unpredictable path filled with mystical yet myopic policies and chasing mirages in the name of strategic or geopolitical interest. This land represents a dystopian present as well as a utopian future for its populace. we are offered follies as dreams and expedient ambitions as policies. It’s like living in the magical realm of Garcia Marquez fulfilling the unholy prophecy of a perishable destiny. Our economic evolution is abysmal, to say the least. The inherent structure of our economic foundation is faulty and about to collapse. The micro, as well as macroeconomic indicators, are worse than they were ever before. The lobbies control the levers of our economic future and their interest in no way represents the interest of 220 million people. The elitist structures that we have erected have tightened their noose around our necks. They perf, pilfer and plunder while our children’s future starves because of malnutrition and multi-dimensional poverty. We doll out subsidies to the bourgeoise while our proletariat struggles to meet ends. Our lands are infiltrated with substandard seeds and sprayed with diluted poison. The yields are dwindling just like the people’s patience. Although we are going to be water scarce from 2025, the system will not be able to dam the deluge of anger that is about to burst. Technology starvation and lack of innovation in agriculture have led to the erosion of the rural economy. The genie of food insecurity is right at our doorstep collecting its debt. Our taxation system is exploitative of the poor. We pluck every penny from the poor in the form of indirect taxation. The rich evade and offload their wealth offshore. The colonial bureaucratic structure needs immediate overhaul and reforms. The system right now represents a person that is lurking around the abyss and waiting to be sucked into it.
Pakistan today just like yesterday is standing on the cusp of crossroads. The path we take from this moment forward will chart our course in the comity of nations. For far too long we have pursued the personal objectives of the elite as a prescription for our ills. For too long we have followed a complacent policy of indifference to our people. For decades we have suffered at the hands of neo-liberal financial institutions, the dishonesty of the intellectual elite, and the nepotism of political institutions. In the prophetic words of Karl Marx, a specter is haunting our future, and it’s about time we make a course correction. Pakistan has been blessed with a favorable population demographic. Most of our population is young and energetic. We need to channel these energies through investment in education and health before this turned into a societal menace. Women are the future of this nation, and investment in women is akin to investment in a great future. Elimination or reduction of maternal and child mortality should be the priority. UNICEF and WHO are already spearheading this crusade in Pakistan, and we need to own this for ourselves. Restructure the economy, promote investment in human capital, discourage parking of assets into real estate, and diversify exports while focusing on information and technology. Build climate resistance through proactive adaptation and mitigation measures. Devolve powers to the local governments to improve governance and service delivery.
Media is considered the fourth pillar of a democratic society but unfortunately, it has been held hostage to the interests of the elite. American society was reformed through the outrage of the muckrakers and the noise that they created in the newspapers and academia. Shakespeare said in Troilus and Cressida, “take but a degree away, untune that string, and hark what discord follows”.