In an increasingly noisy world, where almost every single electronic device is desperately trying to deliver a message to us, one has to disconnect to recognize the inconsequential words, bombarding us unannounced, often resulting in ambiguous communication.

From private conversations to news bulletins, almost everything we consume or produce is littered with a variety of words, phrases and expressions that will either literally fail to satisfy a query or mean absolutely nothing yet constitute an integral part of appropriate speech.

It all starts with the word that absolves mankind of all responsibility – ‘inshallah’ – if God wills. In Pakistan, endless debates are assigned to ‘God’s will’, prematurely concluding discussions and often eliminating the need for people to express their own will on a certain matter.

There are innumerable examples of this in our day-to-day communications. For instance, ask an architect if the house he or she is building for you will have enough sunlight. Ask a guidance counselor if your profile is good enough for a top tier university. Ask a mountaineer if you’ll make it to K-2 and back. Ask a vocational trainer if you will make a good carpenter. Ask your mother if she can drive you home after school. Ask a friend if Pakistan will win the next cricket match. Ask your leaders if they are willing to do anything about the energy crisis.

Invariably and I suppose also inadvertently, people coat a response with ‘inshallah’ and then they let the magic unfurl.

Unfortunately, however well meaning the word ‘inshallah’ might be, and regardless of God’s will, which remains unknown to man, the term ‘inshallah’ often relegates questions to the mystery of divine will and thereby robs us from much needed inquiry. This is mostly true when we take a literal meaning of the word and when the term is not used as a substitute for ‘yes’. But even when it is used as an affirmation, more often than not, it fulfils the appetite of a mild, informal inquisition.

Consider the devastating earthquake in 2005 to better understand this. In its early moments, the tragedy was apparently inexplicable; the ground swallowed thousands of innocent people; poorly constructed homes, precariously perched on a fault line, succumbed to the reverberations of a tectonic jolt; the entire country was paralyzed in the wake of an unprecedented natural disaster; preventive measures could have saved lives; but alas, one narrative that pervaded society was that it was God’s will to wreak havoc on his people and that reasoning obfuscated a discussion on what man could have achieved to save lives on his own.

There is nothing overtly detrimental about looking for spiritual support in endeavors ahead of us. Much to the contrary – and this has been studied extensively – faith leads to fulfillment and a quiet self-confidence that carries people through various difficulties in life. However, when the same faith punctuates or concludes discussion on what is already known to man, and we choose to ignore that knowledge, we suffer. So next time someone uses divinity to derail you from a logical thought pattern or to placate you with empty promises, take a moment to look through those promises.

Inshallah Pakistan will eventually combat terrorism. Inshallah we will prosper as a nation. Inshallah the streets will be safe again. These are the latest in a series of pacifying communications issued by the government through their spokespersons, the Sharif brothers. Most recently, the government added a lengthy song to the repertoire, with lyrics that roughly translate to, ‘we will not let you come in harm’s way’.

Communications like these make me wonder if the government is living on a private, obscure island called cuckoo land. Do they really think people will find solace in a song while innocent lives are lost every day? Do they think they can lift the spirit of the nation with music; with an empty promise to protect the people no matter what? If precious time, money and effort was instead channeled towards a better equipped police force, I’m certain the media would report on it and the government wouldn’t need to sing songs to pacify a nation on tenterhooks.

In any case, it is manifestly clear that the current leadership in Pakistan relies a great deal on God’s will. One can only wonder if this leadership will hide behind God’s will if Pakistan remains insecure after their term. Will our leaders then say, ‘perhaps God has another plan for Pakistan?’ But more importantly, we should ask ourselves this: how long will we swallow promises, sealed in the garb of divinity?