Can Pakistan be enlightened in hypocritical environment?

Away from my native land I watched the concluding session of the National Student Convention 2004 on PTV World channel. The event was held in Islamabad last week, at the Jinnah Convention Centre. The wonderful speeches of the young dynamic University students reminded me of my teenage years when I had the same sprit and ambitions to serve the country. Unfortunately, after consecutive disappointments I ended up availing the opportunity of moving abroad. 20 years have passed and I hope the youth of Pakistan does not face the same disappointments. Almost every speaker in his or her speech commonly asserted that they did not want anything but to serve the country. Most of the participants were the university students –” the future of the nation.

Though they were young but their arguments and concerns were matured and genuine. They pinpointed the social snags, procedural hitches, social injustices and corruption very rightly. Some of them even seemed so out spoken in identifying the level of corruption in Pakistan by referring to the favouritism done in issuing the invitation of the convention to students. This was great to see in our new generation, the courage to speak the truth without fearing the aftermath.

President of Pakistan was the Chief Guest of the occasion while most of the prominent ministers including Minister for Information Sheikh Rashid, Minister for Information & Technology Dr. Atta ur Rehman and Minister for Education Zubaida Jalal were very visible on the TV screen.

Undisputedly, holding the convention of youth is a noble cause in the nation building process. However one has to remember, as bigger the promises you make – the bigger responsibilities you take. One hopes the government before organising this convention would have understood the sensitivity and risk factor involved in organising such a kind of event. Most of the participants in this forum were young, talented University Students. They are about to enter their professional careers. While the Youth are dynamic, energetic and jingoistic they are also very sensitive. No one would like to see them manipulated by showing them golden dreams just to record another event in the credentials of the organisers.

Unfortunately, the history of Pakistan shows that the politicians, bureaucrats, military rulers and even the intellectuals often come out with great ideas. Huge funds from tax-payers money are spent on organizing wonderful events yet the nation has not seen any improvement in the life of a common person, economically and socially.

Noticing the very well formatted answers in response to the questions raised by the speakers and observing the body language of the Chief Guest and the Ministers, one has to wait and see the post actions in response to the promises made. One hopes that it wouldn’t be another high-profile exhibition on national television to show to the people of Pakistan and impress the world that the rulers in Pakistan are very modern and have discussed about enlightening Pakistan.

As a matter of fact, when the young participants were commending their thoughts, proposing fantastic ideas, the Ministers mood was very casual. At one occasion, when a female speaker in a very serious tone raised her concern on the mismanagement in the education system, Zubaida Jalal casually laughed as the girl had stated a funny joke. When another speaker raised the issue of brain drainage and referred the causes of professional and educated people moving abroad, Dr. Rehman responded that 77% of Pakistanis have been employed back by Pakistan like defending his deeds on the bitter question of a journalist.

I don’t want to fill-up pages of my personal experiences but when I sent them many proposals on the development programmes in Pakistan, I never received any response from any Minister. However, Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman’s reply at the convention reminded me of a 3-year old correspondence I had with him. Inspiring with his IT innovative announcements and keeping the long-time desires to go and pay back my homeland; I had offered my services by submitting my full credentials to Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman in response to his high-fly statements for overseas Pakistanis. Couple of weeks later I received an acknowledgement letter signed by his secretary on behalf of him that my application was received and I would be contacted at an appropriate time. Unrelated to the correspondence, I wrote an article which was published in Dawn, ‘Premature IT Revolution in Pakistan’ where I mentioned the drawbacks considering the existing status of the country. Dr. Rehman, this time efficiently, wrote a reply mentioning all his achievements and revolutionary plans. When I asked him if he was so much interested to bring the professionals home, then what happened to my offers sent to him long ago. He replied by saying he had not received any of my letters. I was shocked and sent him a copy of the acknowledgement I received from his clerk. Since then Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman did not respond to any of my correspondence.

Science and technology, no doubt, is a great need of the time but how can you successfully run thousands of industries, millions of computers and millions of offices with modern equipment when you cannot afford to provide 24 hours electricity to the people. Industrial and technological developments relate with financial and economic stability and growth. The economical stability depends on social and political environments. Social and political stability in any society depends on the degree of social values, justice and supremacy of law and order. These are all inter-related and interdependent factors. The bottom line is, you cannot succeed in any sector without achieving the prerequisites and without setting your priorities for the rest of the sectors. If the President of Pakistan repeatedly and proudly announced that today we are a nuclear power nation, then God forbid, Russia was also the most powerful nuclear nation if not equal to USA then no. 2 in the world for sure. The country had nuclear arms but the people did not have money to buy bread and butter. And we all know the end result. Nation building is a step by step and stage-wise process. You cannot construct a ten-story building starting from the tenth floor to the ground level.

Another noticeable thing in the convention was the President Musharraf’s presence in an army uniform. One cannot understand the reason wearing military uniform in an youth event except that he wanted to convey the message to the Pakistani youth that the army uniform is superior then a national dress. Indeed Musharraf’s answered the question raised by the speakers logically and rightly on target. He conveyed the message that he wanted to see Pakistan a forward, enlightened, dynamic and progressive country.

How can a country be enlightened and progressive when the people are not safe even at the religious places? The ground realities of day are that the Pakistan which was created on the name of Islam, after 50 years, people are not safe in the Mosques. How can you have a fair and honest society when the justice and law & order system is corrupt from top to bottom?

Does, the government expect from overseas Pakistanis to come and serve Pakistan in an unsafe, corrupt and unjust environment where even the foreign national are not safe to perform their duties for Pakistani projects.

President Musharraf also wishes for Pakistan to be a fair, civilized and cleaned democratic Islamic nation. How can a body be claimed clean while it carries pieces of dirt on its surface? If Musharraf really is serious about what he says then the question arises; Can he makes his dreams true by sharing the power with the same feudal (Khans, Vaderays, Choudhrys)?

Can he bring a clean democratic system in Pakistan while he is enjoying in government with the same old political faces leading prominent ministries?