Imagine picking up a newspaper and reading, as the headline, that the President and the leader of opposition party in that same country have had a duel. A duel with pistols; where men are shooting at each other with no obvious intent to kill. What country would you imagine that you were reading about? In our own time, such struggles happen in Pakistan, where coups still happen every few years, where the majority of the roads are still unpaved, where education is an impossible dream for all, but a select few. In our country, political battles are not fought with bullets anymore; attack advertisements are our new weapons. The winds of political turmoil are nothing more than the swinging of a pendulum that every five years, or even every 10, or 12 years, oscillates to bring the PPP, then the PML-Q, then the PML-N, into power. Some say that the excess of information has deadened Pakistans ear against the call of true political passion. That passion seems to have reached pathological proportions in the acts of computer-aided imageries and morphings of which various political parties lay blame on their adversaries periodically. But it is more than just pathological, being also the displaced sign of a serious threat that comes out unsuspected and looms over say-so 'democratic system. Others say that it is the ubiquity of corruption, in the absence of a genuinely heroic cause for the government to fulfil that has led to voter apathy - none of us are totally consistent in all our beliefs, nor can we find total reliability in the various political figures we may be committed to. After all, what is left for the government of Pakistan to accomplish? The truth, however, lies somewhere between the utter ridiculousness of the situation described above and our knowledge of the real demographics of political parties these days. In the popular representations of Pakistan, the country has been torn by strife, and at every moment it appears to be falling apart at the seams. The overwhelming image of our country is of a country stricken with poverty, consumed by religious hatred, filled with exploitation of women and children that shows no signs of diminishing, but increasing alarmingly. Pakistans achievements have by no means been insignificant. No recognition of its achievements - a country bedevilled by heterogeneity - can, however, mask the brutalities of everyday life for the vast majority of Pakistanis. The people have been grossly ill served by the states in such critical domains as health, nutrition, public safety, assurance of employment and education. One was expected to show up to meet the challenge of the duel; one was expected to fire his weapon, and to stand firm against the pistol of ones opponent. Since our troubles are not noticeable to our system of Pakistan, what is it that has plunged millions of our men, women and children to perish like flies for lack of food, raiment and shelter? Has there been any shortage, Bubonic plague, war or lack of enthusiasm to work? No: the production of all kinds of wealth was never so great. We have become the Egypt of ravenous world - and yet children cry for bread, the widow wails unheard, the educated men out of work tramps the street looking for jobs until they drop and die like homeless, ownerless dogs. It is maddening. Show me your statute-books, and I will tell you the condition of your people, said one of the greatest thinkers. Apply this experiment to our government: open the volume containing the eyesores which are called politicians-made-laws of Pakistan. Youll certainly find that favouritism of the few is almost hard to believe. The subtlety, with which the system has been contrived for the spoliation of the many, is infernal. The cold, shrewd, grasping scepticism that is found in these laws is satanic. The people, who are not seeing all the evils which afflict the body politic, are the natural fruitage of this tree, is knowingly blind to see patently obvious truth. Those 'laws would beggar the masses of any nation on this earth. The protection madness has gone to such lengths that competition has disappeared, the trusts are supreme, and they fix the prices at their own bliss. Then comes the other harpies - the watered-stock roads, the national banks exploiting the sovereign power to coin money, the companies with their 400 percent dividends, the telephone companies with their huge earnings, the oil corporations with its clear profits of almost fabulous proportions. With all of these big fishes in the pool, who is it that cannot understand what the matter with the little minnows is - I ask. Why, then, make any mystery of our situation? Take Pakistans statistical abstract, and study those awful figures. You can then go to a blackboard and demonstrate, with mathematical certainty, that our nation is poverty-cursed because our elected officials have confiscated all of the 12-monthly increase in wealth. Mystery got demystified Instead politicians have become photo ops for feeding the media, which then will prepare its pre-electoral verdict with the rally round of media-savvy psychologists. It is as if democracy has left the polis and settled down in the studio, to be touched now and then with Photoshop. At its heart there is a hole, indicating the exit of real, flesh-and-blood people, of the kind who, like thousands of debt-ridden farmers in our country, drink a pesticide and die. They are the people, who have ironically understood their dehumanisation, their transformation into pests. But democracy, strangely, does not understand what they have understood. There is nothing in nature wrong with our nation, or with our forms of social organisations. Corrupt leaders have pandered to rapacious corporations, until our whole system has been poisoned. What must we do to be saved? Extract the deadly viruses: Restore the laws under which our motherland had been built. And under which Pakistani statesman could truthfully, proudly say: We are proud to be a Pakistani. The basic flaw is the narrow outlook of modern society on which modern philosophy solely depends and which denies religion as a genuine source of knowledge and practice. Here, I would like to quote Allama Iqbal (RA): Neither the technique of medieval mysticism, nor nationalism, nor aesthetic socialism can cure the ills of a despairing humanity. The modern world stands in need of biological renewal. It is only by rising to a fresh vision of his origin (Islam) and future (as provided by Islam), his whence and whither, that man will eventually triumph over a society motivated by an inhuman competition. So, it is only through spirituality that recognises religion as a genuine source of knowledge and gets inspiration from it, in addition to the guidance and information it gets from modernity, that can provide a most comprehensive and truly human and progressive ideology to mankind. Islam, being advanced of all religious systems, does provide such an outlook. Instead of negating or underrating the material aspects of life, it affirms them as a reality. All religious systems, and the related idealistic philosophies, considered the material phenomenon as mere illusion, appearance or a half-truth, and taught renunciation of material and worldly pursuits as necessary to attain salvation. In a striking contrast, Islam lays stress on the trial though material existence as a necessary condition for human salvation. The writer is a freelance columnist.