An assessment of national character
By Dr Abdul Saboor
The Nation is standing at such a critical juncture of history where the cracks and crevices of various natures are going to be prominent in the national edifice in the shape of multidimensional chaos and crisis. Socially, there are many a weaknesses in the system the tendency of which is towards bad rather than towards good. On an average, it seems that the society has lost the wisdom of taking difference between right and wrong. Everyone has his own right and there is hardly some space available for others’ point of view. The moral fabric of our social system is continuously disappearing leaving odd footprints of corruption and white collar crime. The mind set of masses has been so diverse and distracted that they accept false and fabricated things quite easily but truth takes much time to prevail. The education system is nothing but a hodgepodge of imported ideas which might be workable for some group of people but for a huge chunk of population the system is not delivering effectively. A variety of school systems are being operated with commercial motives and who knows what hidden motives are.
Each school system has its unique features but one thing is common among all these systems that national as well as religious narratives are either totally missing or confused in its pedagogical texture. There is neither any focus on moral values nor on advanced cognitive skills at elementary level of schooling. Resultantly, we find socio-behavioral degradation among the budding youth who become vulnerable to be easily victimized through social media. Superficial training is provided a major chunk of which is cramming based. We see that nothing is being done on innovative thinking and creation of knowledge. The academic product so produced in the umbrella of such multi-faceted system is confused and diversified in delivering their professional life. This is how we produce a young slot of slave mind-set who by default perceives that all knowledge is created elsewhere in the world and they are to make a copy of that knowledge. Similarly, when they become leader in any field of life, they start believing that everything happening in other parts of the world is better than what we are doing in Pakistan. To add to the injury, some do so for materialistic gains while others follow suits for lust of power.
On political fronts, we are still in the phase of conflicts and controversies. Chasing the path of democracy in an entirely undemocratic way is the core misery of the whole political system. Inter-party and intra-party rifts are quite common which are weakening the political system and thus political stability remains a dream unfulfilled. Instead of spending precious time in making planning and developing strategies, politicians and even statesmen stay in the domain of blame game. In some interesting cases, they even repeat the same administrative and executive mistakes they have been criticizing since long. Moreover, in the law making arenas, priorities are rarely made. In the legislative process, vested interest groups are more powerful than the groups of taking care of national interests. This has always been an important but unaddressed question how many political leaders are in this profession whose sole objective is maximize their profit and piling up their wealth estates. An unconscious and unintended violation of the Constitution of Pakistan is occasionally practiced by the law makers. Strangely, they disobey the same constitution as made by themselves at some occasion of time.
High hopes have always been levied on judiciary which implicitly reflects the national character. But one thing should be clear that the existing judicial capacity of the government at Session High and Supreme Courts levels is substantially low to handle the existing heavy load of court cases. There is an inherent defect in the administrative procedures due of which delaying of cases is a common problem. The operating system in judiciary is favoring the delaying tactics. Moreover, the advocates and lawyers, being highly occupied and managing less time to prepare the case, always try to prolong the case by extending dates. The science of corruption works in the whole system in a very complicated way. Corruption is followed not for winning the cases but to make the cases more complicated and prolonged. Crime rates are generally increased during democratic era that is quite likely associated to political back-up in the judicial affairs. The elections at chamber level are all politically charged where honesty, integrity and morality are alien terms not for the lawyers and but for the clients as well.
Media has certainly played a marvelous role in reshaping the character of this nation. Setting aside the good or the bad of printed and electronic media, it is rich in resources and rigour to make some revolutionary changes in setting the national character in the right direction. But one must realize that a lot of funding is looped in the communication system for propaganda and conspiracy theories. A good chunk of money is being circulated against the commendable initiatives of the State. A lot of fabricated arguments backed by money may be seen in some places to weaken the national narratives. The mind set of poor nation may be changed and cheated through various tricky means. A great deal of national character is at the hands of media the direction of which needs to be corrected through ethical protocols. The simple starting point is to snub the anti-Pakistani voice which may poison the innocent youth and thus national character of Pakistan.
No one can ignore the unrest and uncertainty visible among the top notch bureaucrats. The quick response of such a bureaucratic character is visualized in terms of inefficiency and bad governance. Reform agenda towards benevolent bureaucracy is certainly required rather than offering an impression of rigorous reforms against their rights and privileges. This may create unrest and uncertainty to the tune of slow development process. We need to know that civil servants have always contributed a lot in developing positive national character and thus making Pakistan progress and prosperous. They have ample experience and exposure to execute the political ideas into reality. One should also avoid the latest rift springing up among the bureaucrats on provincial lines. If national character is to be elevated it should be the duty of the State to ensure that none of the bureaucrat is feeling deprived and isolated in the development and management process.
Economic and financial walls are quite leaky. This is more a management issue rather than the real issue of money. There is slow progress in the side of non-development expenditure. Some revolutionary and regulatory steps are required in managing the import profiles of Pakistan. There is heavy cost of unnecessary import particularly of consumable items of luxury nature Local industry is employment generating for the public while importers are profiteers who leave heavy pressure on undue consumption of luxury nature. People need to be sensitized to contain the size of their Basket of Goods from undue luxuries of life. A simple living might be the hall mark of our national character. Besides economic rationality, social optimality is required for various public sector programs and projects. Mainstreaming the poor and deprived segments of population is highly important. They are actually GDP creators rather than GDP seekers.
The stories coming from diplomatic corners are quite encouraging. The tone at Oval Office has been changed. China, KSA, UAE and Turkey are fairly in comfort zone of Pakistan. Russian is going to be supportive in terms of investment in energy sector. If national character is given a rational turn on moral grounds, a number of good news may spring up. Moral rationality demands a high level of intellect and maturity particularly on every one of us who are at leadership positions. A slight mistake may spoil not only our own image but the image of whole nation. We will have to bury the hatches.
Good and bad are certainly going side by side in the state affairs. The policy challenge is to start converting bads into goods step by step on sustainable ways. Nations are built on the attributes of devotion and dedication with a clear focus on the fact that same mistakes should not be repeated again and again. Not necessarily dollars, but a huge chunk of passion is required to settle many of the administrative, economic, executive, judicial, legislative, political and social affairs. A spark is to be created and demonstrated by the top leadership through nationwide campaigns and canvassing. The foresightedness and wisdom of true leaders can make a mark for glorious character of this nation.
Dr Abdul Saboor is professor of economics and Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences at PMAS Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi