By Dr. S. M. Rahman

The pics speak!

The nation had a sense of relief that the Post 18th February elections, would usher in a new era of freedom from the Army rule, and a respectable civil culture of governance would add grace and dignity to the nation, besides incrementally building up its resilience to withstand any crisis and external threat. Implicit was a commitment that Pakistan would cease to be dictated by any power, no matter how heavy weight it could be in the geo-political arena. Decisions would cease to be one-man show, and that these would reflect the cumulative ‘will’ of the people, from its chosen representatives in the Parliament. Alas! It was not to be. A semantic dilemma grips the minds of the people. How substantively different in spirit really was the civil government as opposed to the despotic rule? A mere cosmetic paraphernalia of political governance – the upper house (the Senate) the Lower House (the Parliament), the Presidency, the provincial Assemblies, the governors of the provinces and so forth do not depict a real transformation that was needed, so that the country could exhibit symptoms of democratic governance, and not its mockery. Power still rests with one-man, who controls the Prime Minister, the Senate and the Parliament.

Pakistan as inheritor of British legacy, has by and large, maintained the political, educational and judicial structure, with marked detoriation in every field. For instance, in parliamentary system, the President represents the Federation, and he is above party partismship. Under pluralistic system, there could be two or more parties, depending upon the maturity level of the political culture. The President is the custodian of the unity of the country, and as Head of the Federation, must act symbolizing those values, that constitute the aims and objectives of the nation. He must demonstrate through words and actions that Pakistan represents ‘diversity in unity.’ Pluralistic societies do have different political parties with different manifestos as well as regional differences in culture, linguistic or otherwise. But national ethos cannot be submerged in the sea of regional diversities. What binds a nation is the national language.

Urdu is the national language representing the identity of the nation. It is indeed a great misfortune that President Zardari, the so called elected leader, has never used Urdu in addressing the combined sessions of the upper and lower Houses. One K.P (Khyber Pakhtunkhaw) leader had the audacity to say that Urdu was not the national language, quite oblivious of the fact that the Constitution is explicit on this issue and it unequivocally accepted Urdu as the national language. God forbid, if Pakistan did not come into being Hindi would have been accepted by the Pukhtoon leader, as his national language. Has not South India, a well as, West Bengal accepted Hindi as the national language, even though they have very rich regional languages? Moreover, it is problematic if India would have conceded to accepting Khyber Pakhtunkhaw as the name of the state on the ground that NWFP was a geographical name in nature.

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The biggest state in India is UP, which is the abbreviation of Utter Pradesh (Northern territory). Along with the language is the national dress that constitutes the integrative element of the nation. Of course, regional languages need to be encouraged but not by relinguishing the national language. Punjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi, Pushto, Brohi and others, have rich cultural moorings, and literary heritage but national cohesion demands adherence to national language. Unfortunately we degrade Urdu medium schools as lower in status against the English medium private schools for the children of the elite class. In pre-partition India, Hyderabad Daccan had Urdu as medium of instruction of all modern subjects of science and technology, which crated great scholars like Dr. Raziudin Siddiqui and others.

I had an occasion to visit Tokyo and was invited to address graduate students of Psychology in the Tokyo University. I was staying in a hotel in the down town (Ginza) and was very difficult to communicate as very few people knew English. With great difficulty, I could catch the train which enabled me to reach the University. All through the journey, I was wondering in what language would I address the students, as reaching from my place of stay to the University was indeed a very arduous task. Any way, I reached the Department and met the Professor, who had arranged my lecture. I asked him in what language could I talk as I had great difficulty in reaching the University. The Professor assured me that I should speak in English and try to be as simple as possible. Moreover, he assured that should there be any problem of understanding, he would translate it into Japanese. It was mandatory for every post graduate student to learn English. It was an hour long lecture and I found that I was communicating quite well with the students, particularly, when they asked questions, it became very clear to me that they had understood me quite well.

When I was invited to tea after the lecture session, it came to me as a pleasant surprise that the ‘book’ which was the basis of my talk, was already translated into Japanese. Every department of the University is responsible for translating the latest books published in USA or in other countries. They too impart training in English but not at the cost of their national language. The same I found was true of the great peoples of China. Unless you respect your national language, you have no identity of your own. The way the national language has been neglected in Pakistan is indeed atrocious. So many universities and colleges are being opened like mushroom but the quality is shockingly very low. I have yet to come across my student who has masters degree in social sciences or strategic studies, who can express his/her ideas cogently in English even a single paragraph or so. The whole educational system is in a pitiable state, with three systems operating simultaneously, Urdu medium, English medium and Madrassa System. Our educational planners have no idea of developing a viable national identity. We had a very well knit nation, which steered the creation of the state of Pakistan and ironically the State has lost the nation.

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We have not learnt any lesson from the break-up of Pakistan, which indeed was the gravest national tragedy. How geopolitically important would have been Pakistan, if the two wings functioned in unison. I recall a very interesting episode, when I was attending a Church function in USA, in which every nationality had to present some aspect of its culture. Unfortunately, I was the only one from Pakistan and was quite perturbed as to what should I present, as I was horribly deficient in singing. From India, there were three or four representatives, especially two girls from West Bengal. They sang Tagore’s songs, which were immensely appreciated. So when I was called upon the stage I said that the girls who have sung songs in Bengali, should be taken as Pakistan’s contribution, as Bengali was only a regional language of India, whereas it was a national language of Pakistan. I got the due clappings, but the Indian students were amply frustrated and cursed me a lot. The reality, however, could not be denied.

Coming to the question of national unity, it is very shocking that President Zardari has repeated several times that the representatives of the four provinces came to him suggesting (after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto) that Pakistan, God forbid, “na-khappay” (should not exist) But it was he, who said that it would “Khappay” (it shall exist). After 62 years of Pakistan’s existence, if the President himself makes such ridiculous statement, what message does he give to the world. Does it not convey that Pakistan was a fragile state about to collapse. This statement he made even in his recent controversial visit to UK. Which country will come forward to invest in Pakistan when the President himself makes such thoughtless statements? A country’s viability does not hinge on any one individual but on its people, who are the bastion of the strength of the nation.

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About the nature of corruption of the present regime, the less said the better. The global perception is that there could not be greater looters of national wealth as the elected politicians of Pakistan, ironically quite a number possessing fake degrees. Political ethos of the country is deplorable to say the least in which Dastis and Mastis thrive most and for the educated and knowledgeable there is no political space in the country.

The judiciary miraculously achieved its independence, despite the government-in- power’s reluctance to do so and to continue with Dogar type judiciary, where judgments are made to order. Unfortunately, the policies are oriented towards creating hurdles in the implementation of Supreme Court’s verdicts. The Law Minister, is hell bent that the Supreme Court judgments are flouted. Lawlessness and lack of accountability has touched the rock bottom, and one wonders if there exists a government of a sort. Karachi carnage and target killings should have resulted in the resignation of at last, the interior minister if not the entire cabinet. It is a killing field for the drug paddlers and the land grabbers. Morality, compassion and human heartedness are the worst casualties. The brutal killing of children is the worst possible reflection of barbarism and violence has become a national trait. The police are only the passive spectators.

The massive flood  that has hit the country, does not move the conscience of the people within and outside the country, as they have no trust that money would be spent for the welfare of the victims of the flood. The Crisis Control Authority is hopelessly incapable of managing such a mega tragedy. There are no SOPs of water management, due to out-dated irrigation system. The flood water could have been preserved for meeting the dire need of the Agricultural sector. Pakistan’s credibility was never as low as it is now. The shameless match fixing episode in London has added fuel to fire. The rapacious officials of the Cricket Board have not been subjected to any accountability. In any respectable society, they should have voluntarily resigned. Yet the rumour is that the President of the State is the magnet around whom the corrupt ones gravitate. One wonders, if this constitutes the revenge of democracy?

Dr S.M. Rahman is the Secretary General of FRIENDS, a Think Tank established by General Mirza Aslam Beg inRawalpindi.

Dr Rahman is widely travelled who has lectured almost in all major countries and written extensively. He has also published a few books. He has been contributing to various news papers in the past; now he is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.