Hope springs eternal

Published Aug 28, 2011 01:15am

OCCASIONALLY, just occasionally, there is a glimmer of hope. Not for the immediate present, nor even for the near future — but hope there may be for a future as yet somewhat out of sight.

An email message fell into my inbox following a column on Independence Day and the gloom and doom that prevails — particularly if one finds oneself in Karachi — and descends even more blackly when one looks back into the past and the beginnings of the country with the acts of commission and omission which have brought this republic to where it now finds itself.

The message came from a university student — and even better, the student is a girl. But is she part of the majority of the young amongst us, that vast percentage? That is a moot point and the answer is probably no.

She had understood that one point that had been made was that the state as it exists nowhere approaches Jinnah’s dream state as no one seems to have realised exactly what that was. This is valid, for the debate still rages on as to whether the founder had intended the state to be secular or Islamic. Based purely on his one famed Aug 11, 1947 speech one must plump for secular, but the expert scholars are adept at quoting from earlier or later words he spoke which lead them to believe that his aim was Islamic. We can never know and can argue on till the end of time.

But my e-mailer, maybe believing as do I, assured me, “with due respect, you and most of your generation fail to realise that the young of this unfortunate country want to correct the mistakes (deliberate or not) that our elders made, and wish to bring this country as close to Jinnah’s dream as possible”.She continued, “I can assure you that people of my age don’t carry labels of religion and ethnicity, we just want to call ourselves Pakistani. We don’t believe in superficial divisions of race, religion and caste, we believe that the only division is that of good and bad.”

She assured me that the young feel for the poor and deprived, that they oppose terrorism and extremism and that they are imbued with far more patriotism than the preceding generations. They aim to prove this, not by blocking roads, but by doing things practical which will benefit the nation.

In optimistic mode, she wrote of using the right to speak freely and spread the message of tolerance. Speaking freely is indeed a constitutional right, but then in times such as these it can be dangerous as has been proven. The bigots and enemies of progress do not countenance tolerance and duly exercise their right by opposing it tooth and nail.

As happy as I was to receive such a message and to know that out there are young people who so far think on the right lines, pessimism inspired by what one reads and hears in the media prevails, and one is hard pushed to believe that my young correspondent and her companions are truly representative. That they exist is of course a boon.

“We want to address every problem,” she wrote, “that we feel is blocking our future such as the lack of tolerance and respect, lack of communication, environmental decay, inequality, concept of freedom and so on. We are doing everything we can by creating platforms for ourselves.”

That the young, even a mere few, recognise the environmental disasters that beset the country is most cheering, because the overall degradation, inspired by greed and grabbing, is one major contributive factor to the overall degeneration of the country.

But then came the rub: “When we discuss our vision, people just ignore us and tell us to stop ranting, that we can never do anything to revive Pakistan. It is true that Pakistan has had the same problems since it was born. We don’t want to revive it.

We want to change it. But change is gradual and can only be brought about when all support it. We do not see many people doing that. No one wants to believe there is still hope. We will continue to do everything we can to spread awareness.”

No one, in fact, is listening to anyone. All are on their own tack. My answer to her is that the leadership is, and has been, such that it is not interested in moving the nation onwards. Now, the sole motive is perpetuation and each action taken has a bearing on the next election. Nothing is done, per se, for the country at large but merely for a small group of people who form the government, who sit in the assemblies, plus their hangers-on and families. They look after themselves; they are not interested in you or your less fortunate compatriots.

Obviously, such youngsters do realise they are a minority group — but then so were the Bolsheviks — but they intend to persevere. “Few people realise that they have the power to bring change,” she rightly says, and goes on, “Most of my peers and I do not cast votes because we do not trust these old faces and their claims of being democratic. We expect nothing from them, we want them to stay away from us. We cannot afford to let them steal what little we have achieved....”

Well, if they really want to get somewhere they must vote — and find the right people to vote for.


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Comments (22) (Closed)

Aug 28, 2011 06:22am
Thumbs up.
Aug 28, 2011 08:17am
It is incredible that such a debate takes place. The debate whether the Founder Mr. Jinnah had a secular state in mind or not. Surely, after his instant death, Pakistan became like a ship without a rudder. Like in India, or in the United States after the year 1776, we in Pakistan did not bother to sit down in conventions a.k.a. "Constitution convention" and figure out, with our intellectual firepower, how in the world we wish to live? If the new generation wishs to correct it then where is the hint? Where is the Pakistani version of James Madison or Thomas Jefferson? Long before them, where is the Pakistani version of George Washington? Once we get the answers in order to lift the hope, then we shall talk of delgates.
Syed Zafar Alam
Aug 28, 2011 08:53am
We are grateful to Mr Cowasjee for always writing meaningful scripts,but unfortunately this Nation does not seem to take any guidance.The Spirit and Enthusiasm displayed by this young girl student is commendable and I wish her all the Best.It's Indeed Encouraging and gives us some Hope.Jinnah,s Pakistan is what we want.
Aug 28, 2011 10:33am
views can not be expressed in this short space.
Mansur Khan
Aug 28, 2011 12:15pm
Mr Cowasjee with due respect the people of Pakistan other than big cities DO NOT Have the means and maturity to vote for the right people. Democracy is SHAM in countires like Pakistan. In 64 years now we are heading to a CIVIL war between the Moderates and Extremists, I see it happening in next 50 years...Contitution has to be re-written until then just suffering for the ordinary persons.
Mansur Khan
Aug 28, 2011 12:19pm
Democray is way to get corrupt manupiltors in power in Pakistan. I see a Civil war between Moderates and Extremists in next 50 years...Constitution re-written without Jinnah....until then suffering!!!!
Munir Khokhar Lahore
Aug 28, 2011 01:24pm
dear cowasjee you are great We are Muslims majority in Pakistan , so country should be under Islamic rules and morality persons are allowed to follow as they wish but state should reflect the majority view, thanks
Munir Khokhar Lahore
Aug 28, 2011 01:27pm
sir constitution may be re-written but giving due respect to Mr Jinnah
Aug 28, 2011 01:55pm
Hats off to you, dear Cowasjee, and to the girl that wrote the sensible Email to you. One should look at Turkey, which is a muslim majority nation but the religion is left behind at home and mosques as a private matter. And the nation marches ahead in prosperity propelled by secular and progressive thinking. Is this not a model for Pakistan ?
salim a. farooki
Aug 28, 2011 02:30pm
I just don't understand why the debate what Mr. Jinnah wanted and what he did not want. This land of Pakistan belongs to Allah and we are Muslims here in majority. Therefore we should be concerned about what Allah and His Prophet wants and not what Mr. Jinnah wants.
Aug 28, 2011 02:34pm
@Munir Khokar Lahore - Unfortunately, the State has been reflecting the majority view for the past thirty years. Ask the Pakistanis of other faiths (I dislike the word minority) what they think of this 'majority view' every time they are made to feel like second class citizens. Time to change course.
Aug 28, 2011 02:45pm
If I may borrow the lines from Sidney Poitier from the movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, here is my message to the current crop of politicians and those from the previous generation who refuse to reform with times: "Not until your whole generation has lain down and died will the dead weight of you be off our backs"!
Aug 28, 2011 10:20pm
A few days back, in the Singapore Consulate near my office, I noticed the representatives of the respective countries of ASEAN hoisting their flag, to fly equally high ( and proudly ) as that of Singapore. No doubt this, they are doing worldwide. Some lessons to be learnt for our sub-continent here. As someone said in Pakistan, if not now, when, if not us, who ?? Hope, for our sake, sooner rather than later.
Aug 29, 2011 01:50am
Your logic does not make sense. By your logic, politician are also sacred!
Aug 29, 2011 03:12am
to G.A - completely agree with u
Azhar Zaidi
Aug 29, 2011 03:56am
Using the word "Allah",to achieve political objectives will help these people as long as we lack education. For that matter, the whole world belongs to Allah, yet God created all, and how conveniently we muslims forget this. What a shame! Yet, words of wisdom come from Mr. Cowasjee, who is by "our luck", not a muslim. Muslims of Pakistan have given up the ideal of Quiad-e-Azam. This serves them politically. So GOD help.
Azhar Zaidi
Aug 29, 2011 04:04am
Yes, we live in Quaid-e-Azam's Pakistan. Creation of Pakistan was opposed by mullahs, but now they want the piece of cake. Ask, what mullas have given to Pakistan? What can they give to Pakistan, except distorting what is left of Quaid-e-Azam's Pakistan. So, wake up, wake up, wake up....... Good comments Zafar.
Azhar Zaidi
Aug 29, 2011 04:10am
Sure,I agree, but we need an Ata Turk, and let him do what he did.
Aug 29, 2011 06:24am
Indeed, Sir Either Pakistan will have equality under the Law for ALL. Or it will have Peace for NONE.
Aug 29, 2011 07:59am
Cowasjee sahab when will you contest in elections. I guess we have no other alternative except the same faces.
Mujeebur Rehman
Sep 06, 2011 12:17pm
Mr.Cowasjee, You concluded your article by saying "if they really want to get somewhere, they must vote" - vote for whom. I think we should offer them better choices first before asking them to vote. I am fully with the young lady and her peers for not voting. And I believe its not a small number that does not vote, just because they have no confidence, repeat, no confidence in what is on the offer.
Mujeebur Rehman
Sep 06, 2011 12:26pm
Mansur: You are absolutely correct - Democracy in Pakistan is not going to get us any where. Nothing could be more fatal than that if you keep offering the same mind set as contestant in the elections.