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Stony Sleep-By Qaisar Sultan

Pakistanis have been asleep for so long that they have forgotten what the truth and hope are. People, no matter what the conditions are, do not let go of their hopes and inspirations. I still believe that we would find a leader who would change the way things are. There was a time that we stood up against general Ayub. We fought against a powerful dictator in favor of democracy. The country was used to wake up when Karachi was awake. Once Karachi, enduring the wrath of the dictator against people of Karachi, was neglected as the epicenter of movements against wrongs, people of the country became complacent. They were all happy to see the decay of the symbol of urban and enlightened life. The urban life brings changes. The city people are more enlightened than the rural people. The major city, Karachi, called “Mini Pakistan” was ignored. They started fighting for their rights. The MQM became the representative party for the Mohajirs. They had to defend themselves from the federal power with the military might. The cities like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Peshawar, and Quetta should have been allowed to lead the country. The rural people look for the leadership, jobs and training in the big cities. They go back to their villages and small town and spread the civility and enlightenment. The system that does not allow these migrations or restrict them through state policies deprives a huge majority the opportunity that the urbanites have. China is a great example where there was an exodus of rural people to the urban areas; same happened in the USA. That is a change that makes countries stronger and more civilized.

Baluchistan and Sindh had their separatist groups that wanted to carve the pie into smaller pieces. The new struggle turned into ethnic conflicts and differences. They did not understand that their own welfare was in a strong and lively Pakistan. We are talking about awareness of what is good for them- there is stony sleep, deep in the subconscious in ethnic cultures and traditions. In the process of chaos and limited view of a state, the politicians and the military found it easier to steal and rob the country. Then general Zia took over the power and brought religious mix into ethnic conflicts; the Russian invasion of Afghanistan made it convenient for the religious forces to get stronger. What we have now is all the elements to make the state weaker. There is no doubt that people are unhappy. They like to see a change in Pakistan. They do not know what kind of change. The change means altering the constitution and the way business of people is taken care of; change implies how you conduct your daily life that has to be modified; change brings a new bold world.  It is always difficult to change what you believe is the only truth or untruth. It is difficult to change the way things are in Pakistan. We want an Islamic state with corruption and evilness; we like to have democracy that does not make any sense in a culture with so much ignorance, poverty and ethnic conflicts. Our people vote for the most corrupt crooks, we call politicians.  We are living like they lived in the dark age of Europe, a feudal system and powerful churches. Now, we are sitting on an explosive ground or mature exploding volcano. While the world is trembling down under our feet, our state policy is based on war mongering. We, a land with plenty of food, cannot provide subsistence, a morsel to evade sickness and death to flood victims; the UNICEF reports indicated that we are in a situation like in West Africa; but we have to spend the lion share of the budget on our military. The priorities have been so asymmetrical that we can only survive on aid from West that we hate so much and possibly vice versa.

The idea of change does not entail only the concept of progress and decay; but amending the prevailing conditions and adjustments in ideologies. The political system is a set of social and cultural norms; it includes social institutions. To make a serious change in the political system requires the reformation of education system, health, war policy or foreign policy, inclusion of people welfare and security and development in sciences and mercantile policy. The change has to bring in fairness on all levels. The society has to decide that people should not be oppressed. The change has to bring in a fair division of labor and power?  The inequity in a society on such a large magnitude as we have In Pakistan demands a change from top to bottom. In a society where a person who works as hard as a landowner and former cannot feed his family and later reap all the benefit from the labor of the peasant represent oppression. Then the question of inheritance comes; why a person born in a poor family cannot get proper education, health and security? The taxation, especially on inheritance wealth, defines a modern culture. Did the rich child born in wealth worked for the inheritance? – And a poor child, no matter how hard he worked cannot feed his family. Is there any moral or religious justification for such a dirty scheme of things? Should not fairness demand that an equal opportunity be provided to all the citizens? These are the changes that are needed to go through evolution or a revolution. To change a corrupt government sounds like a good idea. The only thing we can bring about with that mind set is to go from one corrupt leadership to another corrupt government. The democracy is not the only solution to solve the structural problems in Pakistani situation. The whole structure is built on sandy and muddy ground.  The change may come from an evolutionary process, like in the USA, or revolution in China. First, people and especially our elite have to compromise to change that is truly meaningful.

We should not lose hope. We thought that the Middle Eastern countries would never wake up; that they have become or are by their culture, too complacent to all the wrongs. They would sleep through the corruption and ineptness of their rulers. They would sleep through all the progress and modernization of the rest of the civilized world. So they revolted against the oppressive governments. Is that enough? That is something that we have wait and see. More than this chaos and anarchy, we have to see the changes in their political and social institutions. The more important question is: would they become a fair country. Would they promote true freedom, not only the voting rights? Would they change the present conditions of unfairness? What is more crucial how people would demand good education, security and health? People of Pakistan are disgusted with the present conditions. The rich and powerful in Pakistan find the country as heaven that gives them the security of the state. The poor are desperate. When people get to a point that they cannot survive, they tend to revolt. But Pakistanis are asleep, stony sleep. I like to hear from the educated segment of our society to speak as loudly as they can. We need the cry of sensitive heart and soul that yearns for fairness and justice.

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