There are a set of indicators that combine to determine the state of any country’s national power. These include economic prosperity, astable defence and security situation, a successful foreign policy and sound socio-political health. While all these elements are critical to a nation’s well-being, it is the socio-political environment that has far reaching sympathetic effects on all other elements.

The Pakistani socio-political scene is a manifestation of our national character and collective behavior, a demonstration of which is visible on the roads, in public offices, banks, markets and in our dealings with one another. We are first and foremost megalomaniacs, wherein we think that strutting about, displaying weapons and being arrogantly insolent makes up for whatever character deficiencies we might have. This attitude breeds contempt for law, which is multiplied and even abetted by an inefficient and impotent police.

Our attitudes become part of a viscous chain that begins with the desire to get rich and powerful in the shortest possible time, ignoring the fact that this would only be possible through means that are outside the law – through corrupt practices, crime or usurping someone else’s legitimate rights. We go about this business with impunity, secure in the knowledge that there would be neither accountability nor punishment for our deeds. This state of affairs has reached a point where I have been forced to violate a promise I had made to myself, when I took up writing many years ago - never to bring religion into my columns, simply because I consider myself inadequately equipped to talk on the subject. There is no doubt in any mind that the entire human race will be held accountable and suitably rewarded or punished in the afterlife. I wonder if those of us, who have chosen to take ‘short cuts’ to worldly millions and power have ever given a thought to this divine accountability and its consequences.

We have also divided ourselves into clans and ‘biradaries’ to the detriment of being first and foremost – Pakistani, and the worst to suffer at the hands of this grouping is the process of electing our rulers. It is indeed a pity that a bulk of our voters cast their ballot on the basis of clan affiliation and personality cults instead of the candidate’s ability to deliver. These affiliations have added to our woes by spawning nepotism and lack of merit.

I have repeatedly said that the panacea for all what ails us is ruthless enforcement of law. We have somehow adopted the notion that expediency and flexibility in punishing the powerful are necessary in a democratic system. Such is our obsession with the Parliamentary form of Democracy that we bend rules and turn a blind eye to activities of our political elite sitting in both the houses and on whose goodwill rests the future of the Prime Minister and the President.

A look at what is happening around us will indicate that the ‘Land of the Pure’ is yet to develop the essential standards required to run a Democracy. Perhaps, there is a need to brainstorm, evolve and then adopt an interim system that creates the conditions for a Parliamentary Democracy to work successfully. This interim system could be a Presidential one, where the Head of State and the Head of the Executive are one – not elected (and held hostage) by a Legislative majority, but by the popular direct vote of the people. We can then begin work to increase our literacy level, turnaround our economy, manage urbanization, develop industry and subsequentlytransitinto a meaningful bicameral Parliamentary Democracy. All of the foregoing will however be fruitless without effective enforcement of law, where every citizen is held accountable for his deeds irrespective of his position and calling. We will have to swallow this bitter pill or suffer unimaginable consequences.

The writer is a freelance columnist.