Marvi Memon We have a choice today. We can rediscover the meaning of Pakistan, and act with honesty, integrity and loyalty towards our family and our country; or we can continue watching and contributing to the downward slide of Pakistan till the meaning of Pakistan becomes irrelevant. We can either give our destiny in the hands of true sons and daughters; or we can keep trusting the same impersonators who have put their personal interests before national interest. We can either treat each other as the Quaid instructed with no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, between caste or creed; or we can divide and kill ourselves into oblivion. We can either liberate ourselves from fear and hunger by acting like humans; or we can steal from each other, disregarding the rule of law and thereby acting like animals. We can either choose to be guided by the principles of justice and fair play without any prejudice or ill-will; or we can indulge in nepotism, corruption, jobbery, lack of meritocracy to fill our own pockets. We can either believe in blood, toil and sweat; or we can indulge in shortcuts to amass illegal wealth. We can either contribute to the complete emancipation, freedom and equality of all our people by celebrating their diversity; or we can aggravate provincial disharmony by unfair distribution of natural resources. We can either stand on our own legs, our ideology, our goals, our basic and fundamental principles; or we can allow outsiders to come in and create trouble or differences in our ranks. We can either generate wealth from our own human and natural resources; or we can be dependent on foreign powers to put our house in order, thereby bartering our independence. We can either allow the spread of fear, violence, and oppression; or we can stand united and block the rule of the few despots by holding them accountable. We can either realise that we have lost enough time in making the wrong choices and that Pakistan is failing its people; or we can continue to live in our delusional denial mode and keep indulging in frozen inaction. We can either spread the true teachings of Islam, huqooq-ul-ibad, value of izzat-i-nafz; or we can sit by and watch our great religion be distorted and misused on account of private agendas. We can either formulate a peaceful foreign policy regionally and internationally, and demand our rightful place globally: or we can continue on our downward path to a rogue state. My dearest Pakistanis, You do have a choice. The first step has to be taken today. Start believing in the change that you wish for; start trusting those who have shown integrity, character, and rejected greed for power. And trust me you will get a leadership that will give Pakistan its rightful place in the comity of nations. In my three years in the National Assembly of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, I did have a choice. I could have enjoyed the perks of power, ignored the injustices that 99 percent of Pakistanis were burning in, played power politics, indulged in doublespeak and hypocrisy; or I could have been the change I dreamt of. I decided to be that very change. I have taken my first step. I travelled the length and breadth of Pakistan to highlight and resolve the injustices that my enslaved populations lived in. I spoke about their struggle for their rights on the floor of the House, on the streets and in the judiciary. My people and I we laughed together, lived together, cried together, ate together, struggled together and, most importantly, believed together. We did not connive, cheat or steal like the rulers. We simply fought for what was our rightful due. Truly, you do have a choice. I firmly believe that if we all take the first step Pakistan will shine. Its only a matter of time. Pakistan will rise to the occasion. It will be an honoured State. For that, you will have to believe in whats real and reject whats fake. Reject shortcuts, reject those who give you bribes and who scare you into submission and reject the duplicities. Whether you are voting for a presidential or parliamentary system and whether it is proportional representation or not, what matters is the authenticity of that one vote. We need to fix the electoral system now before the next elections so that the results are meaningful and honest people have a chance to fix Pakistan. With democracy in our new political party set-up, with a youth force that will work for the society, with a council of experts who will set a high level of non-compromised policies of governance, with the poor man in the assemblies and with the district Congress that will be the eyes and ears of the movement, we will fix Pakistan. We will cleanse the minds of those who have become addicts of the old order. Those who have failed you so many times and cannot be trusted to have suddenly reformed overnight. We will break the chains of the servitude. We have to make men real men and we have to make women real women the way Allah Almighty ordained it. We have to simply follow the law and ensure that those who are eager to break it are punished for doing so. Those good people who run away from politics because its a dirty word and those who have left the political space for the looters who treat politics as a business have to take charge now. They have to show the path forward, as to how the new politics will be done. Relegation of the task to looters should no more be allowed. Those so-called leaders who have made compromises on the new politics must not be trusted. The eagerness to get into power makes many forget the real mission they are on. The mission is to clean the minds and fix the looters; to make Pakistanis work sincerely in a disciplined fashion and not break rules. And to make Pakistanis realise their full potential, which they are not doing for now. I leave you with the Quaids vision: We are going through fire. The sunshine has yet to come. But I have no doubt that with unity, faith and discipline we will not only remain the fifth largest State in the world, but will compare with any nation of the world. Are you prepared to undergo the fire? You must make up your mind now. We must sink individualism and petty jealousies and make up our minds to serve the people with honesty and faithfulness. We are passing through a period of fear, danger, and menace. We must have faith, unity and discipline. Pakistan Paindabad The writer is a former Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan. Email: marvi.nmemon@gmail.com