Posted by: ourvoicestogether | January 1, 2008

Pakistan–The ‘ideal’ solution

In the real world there are no ideal solutions. Life and its events present one with unique situations and circumstances and hence they have to be dealt with by the best available resources. Setting targets and goals and having a vision is important along with timing and execution. Solutions have to be realistic and hence ‘gettable’.

It seems as if I left Pakistan eons ago after several years of frustration, disgust and encounters with the system and its cronies. I saw the country declining. The decades of the 80s and 90s were perhaps the most crucial – hatred, chaos, inflation and poverty reigned supreme coupled with the insensitivity of the ruling elite. Traces of religious fanaticism were becoming evident – the transition was too obvious to miss.

Whereas human rights violations were on the rise, thanks to the introduction of the outdated and distorted Sharia laws and severe punishments, certain extreme forms of Islam were aggressively ‘marketed’ by the powers that be and intensely enforced. Someone, somewhere had a ‘vision’ – the vision was to strike at the very root of an otherwise secular minded populace and turn religion into a tool of anarchy and destruction.

I feel sad at what has become of Pakistan. The transformation from a not so bad to a notoriously rogue state has only vindicated my fears. I remember asking a Pakistani journalist who was visiting Washington back in the time when the Taliban were plundering Afghanistan with Pakistan’s help about the diplomatic repercussions and loss of Islamabad’s goodwill amongst the polity of nations. The lady reacted rather vociferously and said that it was Pakistan’s bounden duty to assist its ‘brethren’ who were waging a war for the establishment of an Islamic order.

At that time I wondered if Islam was really what the Taliban were trying to enforce or was Afghanistan just another Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) experiment, another project for power conducted by the ambitious generals within the armed forces network to influence regional politics.

I am often blamed by all and sundry for being ultra skeptical about the state of affairs, for my negativity about the Pakistani mess. I agree that that I am a diehard critic of the country’s military and the politicians. But there are times, such as the current one, when I feel sorrowful and inadvertently start thinking about solutions. I try to get over my disappointments and ponder realistically about what can be done.

I’ve been a student of politics and world history for as long as I remember. I consider each day as a continuation and extension of what I studied and learnt at school.

Having said that, I am at a loss to present any plausible solutions for Pakistan! The country seems to be at odds with itself. There are too many role players trying to gain control of the circumstances. Finding a way out of the quagmire is next to impossible. The vital signs are not functioning too well, not receptive to the changing needs of time. Basically, it has all the characteristics of a failed state.

Amidst all the gloom and dreariness that cloaks the Pakistani horizon, lo and behold, we must make a reality check of the surroundings and the international system as whole. No matter how much the Pakistanis refuse to acknowledge, the country is a center of terrorism, a monstrous production house of the mullahs and the Taliban aided by elements within the government machinery.

How do we revive this failed state? That’s the real catch-22!

I am a great admirer of Hans Morgenthau. However, I do like to idealize at times and I do believe that we all have the right to think beyond the realm of the dullness of realism in order to reach out for our ideal objectives. Crucial as it is to stay within certain limits of ‘realisticness’, I do try my best not to go overboard!

Pakistan needs a perestroika, a glasnost. Yes, these can turn out to be just fallaciously high-sounding, fantastic but meaningless terms if the very essence and spirit of the concepts are not captured or complied with. Believe it or not, its leadership has deceived the Pakistani nation forever; the ‘little man’ has been trampled, by such slogans innumerable times in its history.

The situation is a bit different now. It is shameful and it is extraordinarily ‘tight’. There is no time to deceive or go back and forth on terms and concepts that may not deliver. Not long ago we did hear Musharraf talk about introducing the phenomenon of ‘enlightened moderation’ that he stole from a great US Secretary of State. Did he mean anything when he uttered these sacred words? He might have at that time but that doesn’t even matter anymore. Look at what happened. The country is in shambles. I fail to see any traces of ‘moderation’ – all that is visible is red-hot emotionalism aimed at killing in the name of religion for the sake of power.

My suggestion, no matter how utopian it may sound but I’ll go ahead with its enunciation, is that for a period one year, a body of individuals should be formed to run the country. This body should be named as the Reformation Council and be composed of personalities who have impeccable and unblemished track records. Honesty, integrity, academic excellence should be the hallmarks of their respective characters. Thorough background checks should be made and it should be ensured that no one has skeletons in their respective closets.

The system should be purged of all political and military elements. The military should be sent back to the barracks and assigned to safeguard and secure the country’s borders. No more perks and privileges for the generals, no shortcuts to accumulate wealth anymore.

The Council should take over foreign and economic affairs and cleanse the body politic, introducing reforms with respect to the constitution, electoral process, human rights, and break the back of the rich and the powerful elite and the landowners, thereby ending their stronghold on the system.

Most important of all, the Council must be empowered to deal with religious fanaticism head-on. Members should be provided with all possible help, intelligence etc., that would assist in tracking down the crazies. An elaborate paraphernalia should be created that would help analyze the situation and ruthlessly target the fanatics. Also, Pakistan must become an IAEA signatory at the earliest possible so that fears of the terrorists taking over the nuclear program can be minimized to a certain extent.

On the foreign policy front, the first priority should be to enter into agreements with neighboring states and make peace with them. Afghanistan and India have been victims of ISI orchestrated insurgencies in the past. The Pakistanis must solemnly pledge never to interfere in their affairs.

Washington must continue its support. However, this support should be conditional and with checks and balances. In addition, area specialists should be sent over in order to aid the reform body in the policy making process. These ‘advisors’ should preferably stay on beyond the one-year mandate of the Council. Islamabad must work with the US, rather than being a resistance.

I understand that I over-emphasize the US role in sorting out the Pakistan situation more than often. I, as an individual, have strong faith in the United States. It is my strong belief that, given an opportunity, the US can fix even the harshest of issues because of all the intellect and resources available. I truly respect the spirit for which the US stands for as a nation with my heart and soul.

Pakistan should be renamed ‘Republic of Pakistan’, getting rid of the ‘Islamic’ part. The people have had enough of Islam that has been used as a convenient mechanism to fool around with public sentiments. Religious minorities should be considered a part and parcel of the community without any exceptions. All must work together to uplift the soul of the nation.

By the same token, Pakistan should pick and choose its friends carefully. Granted that the Arabs have helped the country financially for ages now but their assistance has come with a heavy price tag. Interaction with the Saudis and the Emirates should be restricted so that they are no longer in a position to interfere in the internal affairs.

Israel is one country Pakistan can highly benefit from to a great extent. There is a commonality of interests on a number of counts. Both have been targeted by acts of violence and terrorism in the name of religion. That in itself is perhaps the most appropriate area to work on, cooperate and become allies against terrorism.

Whereas Israel has on several occasions shown the accommodation to shake hands, it’s been the Pakistanis who are perhaps reluctant to go forward because of the ‘Islamic brotherhood’ issue. They must realize that, first, there is no such thing as ‘Islamic brotherhood’ in the modern day world, and, secondly, even if there is one, they need to extricate themselves out of it, make the hard choices and move forward by going for pragmatism rather than stupendous hallucinations.

Furthermore, borders with India should be opened. A relationship of trust and confidence should be established. People in India and Pakistan were one not long ago and lived together for centuries. The very premise of the Kashmir issue should be considered as a forgotten phenomenon. For all practical purposes, Kashmir belongs to India and the Pakistanis must let go of the issue.

Institutions of religious reconciliation and inter-faith dialogue should be formed. The public should be allowed to debate the matters to do with faith related stress that the society is suffering from. Findings of these institutions should be considered and given practical shape when policies are made.

The media should be set free. Dissent should be allowed. The right of the people to express themselves should be respected at all times.

I understand that all this sounds somewhat impractical. Of course, the biggest question is: ‘who will appoint the Reformation Council?’ Where are we going to find all these folks to form the Council? Well, this is where my plan meets its Waterloo! My proposal is just a wish, a cry in the wilderness to revive the fortunes of a failed state that could be the world’s most vicious terrorist breeding ground.

Time is short. The country is facing a crisis of leadership. There is no way that the current setup can provide any relief to the nation in absolute turmoil. Pakistan must work hard and play hard and prove itself to be worthy and be a productive part of the international system. Achieving this objective is not impossible – only the right tools and the people are needed to get the job done.

–Ahson Saeed Hasan



  1. The author can write good English but I’m afraid he has no clue what he is saying and commenting upon. Its a wish list which is not at all practicable, but he has the right to dream but has no right to waste our time in bullshit.

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