Whenever someone speaks or writes on the any topic concerning Pakistan or the Islamic World, we often get caught in a warp of patriotic or religious sensibility, and any negative remark about Pakistanis or Muslims earns immediate condemnation as an attack on the country or Islam, without even going into the context or merits of the discussion in question. Similarly, Pakistanis and Muslims are either made out to be the best or the worst of all existing human species in the world by many writers and correspondents. Somehow, we find it difficult to find the middle ground and end up in praising the person to the skies or denouncing him as the scum of the world! 

This attitude is quite visible, especially in social media which has fortunately provided the opportunity to millions of people including common folks and intellectuals to join in the global debate on the problems confronting us. While the involvement of everyone and anyone in expressing his or her views is most fortunate and indeed welcome, yet, there is a need for moderating this global discussion in order to achieve national and international understanding and friendship rather than creating unnecessary bad blood. This is more important at the national level as national unity is the need of the hour.

We have to understand, as Pakistanis, that one way of positively exercising our freedom of expression is to first of all listen to different viewpoints in their entirety before responding to them in one way or the other. And, this is only possible if we consider everybody as a patriotic Pakistani or a good Muslim, as we think ourselves to be. Secondly, we have to realize that though all Pakistanis want things to improve in the country, yet they may differ in their viewpoints as to how this has to be achieved. Thirdly, those of us who are critical about the state of affairs and point out those who are suspected to be working against national interests or point out our failings as Pakistanis or Muslims are not denigrating Pakistan or Islam but are merely pointing out the flaws or weaknesses which need to be eliminated or removed so as to strengthen Pakistanis or Muslims in general and the country in particular. 

Now, a major pitfall that we are likely to fall into is responding purely reactively when someone points out faour weaknesses or shortcomings. This either means going into denial mode, or to recount our strengths and exploits in such a manner that every observation regarding our mistakes or shortcomings is simply dismissed as being a figment of someone’s imagination. Resultantly, instead of learning from our faults we end up in merely beating our trumpet by coming up with adulatory articles about ourselves, and damning the protagonist who dares to question our conduct. Sadly, this has been our attitude throughout our short history since our emergence as an independent country belonging to the Muslims of the Subcontinent.

Here, I would be briefly reviewing one such article by one Mr. Mir Muhammad Ali Khan, a Pakistani expatriate and an International Investment Banker (who also served as an Advisor to the Gen Musharraf when he was Chief Executive in 1999),which has been doing the rounds in social media these days.

Mr. Mir M. Ali has based his article on his recollections of what he has been hearing since his teenage years when late Gen Zia was ruling Pakistan and thereafter, until now, from different people (from Pakistani elders, Pak-American students in Rutgers University in the USA, those in the Wall Street, New York, his children’s teachers in America etc.), i.e., prognostications about the likely collapse or demise of Pakistan for one reason or the other. However, he says that fortunately by the Grace of Almighty Allah Pakistan is not only existing as a leading Islamic Country and a nuclear state, but has also made great progress both economically and politically.   

While the objectives of Mr. Mir Muhammad Ali are indeed noble and his love for the country is obvious yet, not only his premise that Pakistan has beaten terrorism and progressed economically with significant  growth in GDP, per capita income and improvement in the standard of living is not only erroneous and wide off the mark but also self-delusional. And, the comparisons that he has made vis a vis the ‘collapse’ of so many countries in the last three decades or so compared to the survival and progress made by Pakistan during this period versus the prognostications of gloom and doom are not only faulty but also unrealistic, as well as rather farfetched when seen objectively from a neutral and unemotional position. We have to realize that in order to be real, the progress has to be measured objectively by presenting facts which are authenticated by neutral and independent economists and political observers, and not merely by quoting figures given out over a period of time by the government spokesmen.    

Coming to the ‘collapse’ of various countries listed by Mr. Mir M. Ali there is no comparison to our situation. And if we do look into them one by one we will find that their political or economic breakdown occurred in very different circumstances, and mostly due to certain inherent historical defects in their state structures or demographic makeup as well as basically dictatorial or totalitarian rule, as well as overwhelming outside political and military intervention, apart from internal governmental corruption and misrule. However, these very examples of failed systems are very much applicable to us one way or the other if we don’t want to go down the drain a la Syria or Iraq! Thus, instead of just bragging about our ‘mere’ survival, we should take heed from their failures!

The Soviet Union collapsed despite being a superpower mainly because it had the inherent weakness of lacking natural geo-political strength and cohesiveness and unnatural boundaries apart from the communist system of governance which was based on dictatorial economic and political rule by an oligarchy of the Communist Party representing the Godless Communist Ideology and the denial of most fundamental human rights including the right to practice ones religion as well as the very basic human right to ownership of property and free political association. The collapse of the Soviet Union was but, only a logical conclusion to the establishment of a faulty political system devoid of logic and antithetical to human psyche and values.

The Argentinian, Greek and Portuguese economies collapsed due to poor economic management and corruption especially among the ruling class which is a scenario staring Pakistan in the face when we look at the current state of our economy including the state of our climbing external and internal debt, falling exports and foreign remittances, and the dysfunctional Federal Government and Autonomous Institutions including the FBR, FIA, NAB, ECP etc.

Talking of EU collapsing is quite naïve because it is an international economic arrangement which is governed by well defined rules and regulations. Moreover, the issue of Brexit is well within the ambit of these very rules and is therefore nothing abnormal. And the way this issue has been handled by the UK and the EU Commission serves in fact as a very suitable guideline for other countries to follow for resolving their bilateral and multi-lateral economic/other arrangements/agreements in case of conflicts or dissatisfaction between one or more parties.

If Zimbabwe is nearing an economic collapse it is again a lesson for us with regard to political ruling class’ tendency to continue ruling by hook or crook in the name of saving the so-called dysfunctional democratic system in which electoral rigging and gerrymandering has been taken to the limits by manipulating the state machinery and using ill-gotten money to buy favours. Mugabe is still in control by misusing state resources and police muscle power only because of his being Black but his ouster is only a matter of time.

The mention of countries like Congo and Liberia, and, Yemen hardly bear any relevance to Pakistan as while the first two have yet to get out of the strangle hold of tribal leaders. Yemen, on the other hand is actually a victim of inter tribal rivalry exacerbated by the Saudi led external aggression.

While, Iraq, Libya, and Syria are prime examples of being victims of mainly international power play and machinations cum economic rivalry which have cunningly exploited the internal misrule and whimsical behavior and provocative actions of their often ruthless dictatorial rulers to destroy these economically and culturally rich Muslim majority Arab Countries. Here, again Pakistani political and intellectual elite needs to carry out necessary introspection in order to prevent the exploitation of the fissiparous tendencies on provincial,ethnic,religious,sectarian and linguistic grounds by the world powers and especially our Eastern Neighbor vying to be so ,as in the case of Iraq, Syria and Libya. We already know that efforts are afoot since long to weaken Pakistan internally, by encouraging religious and sectarian strife as well as regional and linguistic grievances as in the case of Baluchistan and Urdu speaking population in the province of Sind. The war against terror with the TTP and roles of our eastern and western neighbors with regard to all of this business is no more secret!   

Now, while one would agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Mir M. Ali and pray that Pakistan will Insha’Allah not only ‘STAY’ but also progress and become stronger. Yet, this cannot be achieved by mere slogans but, by being prepared to see and accept our weaknesses and take necessary steps to remove them. And, this is not possible if we are not ready to hear and read the viewpoints of all protagonists which may offer different perspectives but whose common aim would be the progress and prosperity of Pakistan.