May, 2012

Everyone knows the problems that face Pakistan. The media screams them out 24/7 from dozens of TV and radio channels; each newspaper publishes comprehensive details daily. Talk to anyone; indeed, you do not even have to talk to anyone; people will accost you at any chance and explain all the problems that plague our wonderful country. They will then proceed to give you solutions which are exceedingly naïve and lack substance. Fix the problems and you will fix Pakistan. If literacy is a problem the solution is stunningly simplistic. Increase funding for education. Hire more teachers, build more schools, print more text books. Time scales, budgets, development cycles, these have no meaning. If revenue collection is a problem the solution is simple. Put an honest government in Islamabad and everyone will start paying tax. Really? No one provides any details of implementation because there are not one, many devils in the details. The HOW eludes everyone.

Lacking resources, vision and the ability to fix its problems, the nation turns, as it has always done, to divine salvation. A rude shock awaits the believers because apparently the Maker has, for the time being at least, elected to withhold his divine largesse from a nation created in His name. Forsaken by the Creator (which incidentally is taken as a sure sign that the end is nigh) the hapless public is left with just one other recourse; seeking a mortal savior. Pakistanis then become divided in two groups; one consisting of those who have overcome their infatuation with democracy and now wish to return to military rule and another lot that is now jaded with both the military and politicians. The second lot pins its hopes on an untried, inexperienced but highly popular national hero of sporting and philanthropic fame. Imran Khan is viewed as the leader of last resort. The logic is simple. All else has failed; Imran Khan is untried as a politician but has been successful in other arenas and is purportedly honest. He can ‘captain’ the nation back from the present disastrous situation. When it is pointed out that leading a nation is not the same as captaining a cricket team, the answer is simple. “It is not apples and oranges”, they say. Cricket, fund raising and politics are very similar. Indeed, politics, in the mind of the average Pakistani, needs no real skillset, no major abilities; no major intellect. All that is needed is charisma. And if Imran Khan fails, the result is a foregone conclusion. Pakistan will cease to exist.

I must emphasize that I have nothing against Imran Khan; in fact I honestly wish him well. It is just that thus far he has not convinced me and many others that he actually has a plan to fix things. His constant refrain is that if he is at the top, everyone in Pakistan will suddenly become honest, upright, law abiding and tax paying. I think differently. I think that his is an extremely naïve belief. Let me give an example; one that each one of us can identify with. We now have an ex PAF chief, an Air Chief Marshal, heading PIA. If Imran Khan’s philosophy is correct then PIA should soon become an efficient organization. If it does not, then it can only mean (according to Imran Khan) that Rao Qamar Suleman is also in league with Zardari and is equally corrupt, (ineptitude being automatically ruled out because the seasoned professional officer has commanded an Air Force admirably well for four years). It is this simplistic thinking I have a problem with. Neither is Qamar corrupt nor will PIA be fixed. The problem is not just leadership; the fix is not as simple as changing the leader.

The route to national glory proposed by the erstwhile cricketer is a mass uprising and a tsunami of humanity that sweeps all the corruption and decadence into oblivion. In its place arrives a pristine group of honest individuals who then proceed to change the entire nation. In proposing that his method is akin to a ‘tsunami’, Imran Khan would be well advised to revisit Banda Aceh which, eight years later, is still trying to recover from the disaster of 2004. He would also do well to visit Tohoku, Japan and see how its tsunami has changed that landscape forever. He might want to assimilate the fact that debris from that 18 month old incident continues to show up on American shores. He may wish to find out why the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear powerplant continues to remain a serious cause for concern with experts predicting that it will take “decades to fix the problems and decommission the crippled reactor permanently”. Imran Khan might then realize that tsunamis do not fix problems; disasters never do. All they do is that they replace one set of problems with another.

Then there are others who talk of a revolution in Pakistan. The more aggressive want it to be a bloody one with hangings in every town square; the more squeamish or docile would rather have a velvet one a la North Africa. Yet others talk of long marches despite having experienced just one extremely short one; both in terms of distance and time.

Tsunamis, long marches, revolutions, Russian or French, bloody or velvet, will never happen in Pakistan. Why? Because the world will NOT allow a nuclear armed state to lapse into anarchy. Those that comprehend the true danger of this eventuality will ensure that the turbulent Muslim state is suitably handled and ‘defanged’ before its nuclear assets can become spoils of war for any lunatic fringe of society.

Revolutions will also not happen in Pakistan for another, perhaps more significant reason. Pakistanis do not have the ingredients that enable revolutions.  We are, by design, eternal survivors and when faced with adversity, opposition or hardship, we always seek a solution that enables us to safeguard our own selfish interests; come what may. If all our efforts to our personal aims fail and we are unable to make comfortable our worldly existence, we then resign ourselves to our fallback position; a promise by our Creator of limitless rewards in the hereafter in exchange for our suffering in this worldly life.

Change through evolution or revolution is not going to happen in Pakistan. Never.

Understand this simple truth and you will then appreciate better why we continue down the slippery slope of self-destruction. Recognize this reality because only then can we begin to seek real, meaningful and practical solutions to the problems that hound us.

I have written often on this and other allied subjects but most of my articles have been directed towards a very select readership. This said, I must state quite unequivocally that I am neither a genius nor a profound thinker. What is however acknowledged by many, both formally and informally, is the belief that I possess an ability to think laterally and develop solutions that are outside the box. The problem with most ‘out of the box’ solutions is that they appear outlandish if not downright ridiculous to routine thinkers subscribing to conventional thought. It is for this reason that I have thus far elected to keep my thoughts private.

But the situation is now changed. Time is running out for our fledgling Muslim Nuclear state. Our nation is being steered towards a controlled fracture through which it is planned to first contain and then eliminate the two threats that face the rest of the world; that of nuclear proliferation and religious extremism. I now feel it my duty to put forth my ‘out of the box’ solutions in the public domain so that if perchance there is any merit in any of these concepts, those who have the ability to implement decisions at a national level may choose to do so.