The year 2011 is behind us. In the New Year, nothing dramatic is expected of the government that could constitute a break in the routine of ruling the country that it has been following. A virtual status quo will be maintained in foreign policy as well as internal policies. Nevertheless, there does exist an element of ‘hopes and fears’. In Pakistan, the change of government through a military coup has not been a novelty, scuttling the democratic process that has never been allowed to develop. It is unfortunate that even when democracy has been rescued through the struggle of the people, the so-called democratically-elected leaders have failed to introduce good governance by practicing true democratic norms. This has resulted in the vicious circle of repeating the process without the politicians learning any lesson, when in power.

When the rule of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf came to an end and an elected government took over in 2008, the political leadership vowed to adhere to the Charter of Democracy signed by major political parties of the country. A coalition government was formed by both major political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), unanimously electing Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, with Asif Ali Zardari as President. This proved to be a short honeymoon because the Charter of Democracy was never practiced in letter and in spirit. Without going into the sad saga of the past four years, one can term the year of 2011 a classic example of national disarray.

Unfortunately, Pakistan is routinely listed at the bottom in almost every sector of national achievement by impartial international institutions. Does his help when we claim that we are the only Muslim country with nuclear capability, we have the world’s seventh largest army and we are the fifth largest country with 180 million of population? This does not mean that we do not have the potential to become a great nation. But only if Pakistan was blessed with a leadership to face the challenges it is up against! Most of these challenges are not due to any shortcoming on the part of the people but mainly due to the failure of leadership, since the passing away of the Founding Father. And this is one big reason, perhaps the only reason, for failure. The pity is that the system has not produced even a single Muhammad Ali Jinnah. World historians all agree that India would have got independence without Gandhi and without Nehru. But Pakistan would not have won its freedom without Jinnah. After his death there was no one to lead the people of Pakistan to a respectable position in the comity of nation.

The year 2011 has ended at the most critical juncture of Pakistan’s history. In short, the very survival of the State is at stake. Just by picking up any newspaper of the months of November and December 2011 the reader would come to the conclusion that the danger to our freedom and national security lies within and not outside. The present dismal state of the governing hierarchy as well as the civil society is the accumulated result of the failures of all previous civil and military regimes to honestly work for the country’s development. Hope in the future lies in the single factor of national realisation that without fundamental and revolutionary changes in the system, the change of faces would do nothing to change the destiny of Pakistan. The wind of change is blowing across the land reflecting an overpowering urge for a new dawn to make it prosperous Islamic welfare State. Otherwise, my fear is that we might be facing a bloody revolution.

The writer is President of the Pakistan National Forum.