RUBAB AKHTAR - I am sitting in the balcony area of my home, gazing occasionally at the sky and the street area. I have spent my entire life in this locality. During the period I’ve grown, these surroundings have transformed tremendously. For ease of reference, lets take the example of the nearby ‘Park Area’, nearby where I live.

A decade ago, this park area used to be filled with people of all ages i.e. the elderly marking strides during morning walk sessions, kids setting up cricket ‘pitches’, cycling, ladies chit chatting in a few corners. Fast forward, the park area is deserted, covered by a security wall, having a height of at least 6 feet. The only activity noticed is when the gardeners ‘show up’ for their bi-annual maintenance check. What happened, one wonders. Well to start with, nobody stood up against the Eve-teasers who started to scare the female population away, a stray dog managed to bite a few elderly visitors and most horrific of all, a child was kidnapped from this very area, a couple of years ago.

When I come to think of it, the state in which this park is at the moment, comes down to being so due to us i.e. the residents of the area. Nobody came forward to ‘report’ the Eve-teasers to the police, no one cared to engage ‘Animal Control’ after the stray dog attacked and nobody bothered to keep an eye over the  five year old kid sitting all alone in the park.

Looking from a broader perspective, the state of affairs of our country and this small piece of land is not much different, with the blame solely lying with the residents (in the aforementioned example) and the citizens of Pakistan. We and our country are in a bad state because we are where we belong. Lets go through some problems we face as a nation and check if the blame lies with us:

Water Shortage: Everyday, we let the tap run dry, while washing our houses, sprinkling the roads (to settle the dirt instead of brushing it away), water wasting habits. Do we not keep taps open with water flowing while we attend to phone calls, go inside to check up with something else only to realize an hour later, we left the water flow open. Do we not use water meant for drinking only, for use in car service stations, lawn maintenance, washing clothes. Do we not fight over location of Dams instead of quantity of the same and let millions & millions of cusecs of water causing havoc to our crops/ cities and eventually fall wastefully in the sea. If yes, we are where we belong.

Street Crime: Isn’t our sense of vigilance confined to boundaries of our homes. We are ready to hire several guards, install expensive surveillance equipment but we scoff at the idea of contributing towards hiring fee of security personnel for the entire street/ society. Do we not ignore suspicious people as long as they are not nearby our own homes/ offices and don’t care even if they appear to be scaling heights of a neighbor’s house, or acting/lingering around in questionable manner.

Dealing at Public places: Have we never ‘by-passed’ a long queue for a license, passport, utility bills payment, by using our ‘relations’ or ‘resources’. If the answer is yes, then VIP culture is nothing but our own pet monster.

Have we never been subject to privileged placements due to our friends/relatives being ‘well-connected’ or ‘well placed’ themselves. If the answer is yes, why do we cry foul when someone else goes forward and makes a decision/ hiring ignoring merit based guidelines.

Do we pay our due taxes in full? Do we try and avoid to pay taxes at any cost? Don’t we fabricate documents and lodge false claims to keep the tax noose loose? If Yes, then we are to blame for lack of provision of basic amenities such as social security, health services, better infrastructure etc.

Do we not favor our own blood in fueds/arguments with others, even if they are on the wrong side. Do we not let go of differentiating between an elder and a minor, when dealing with an  argument? If yes, then we are to blamce for our souring relations with our friends/ extended families and general society at large.

These are a handful of issues which we face on daily basis, we manage to ‘make our way’ but ignore what ‘should have been’. Unless and until we accept that we are the root cause of many of the problems this nation faces, and decide to correct ourselves, we are where we belong and we shall drown further in the quicksand of crises after crisis.

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