WE are witnessing seriously troubled times in Pakistan, with the blame-game at its peak among political parties, analysts, laypersons in their living rooms and even the masses on the streets. The trend is to find nothing wrong with the ones you like, and everything wrong with the rest. This level of blind rigidity in the national discourse is one of the main reasons for the mess we find ourselves in.

Any objective analysis rooted in history would reveal that there is never a single factor behind a crisis; it is almost always a cluster of events, personalities and their actions that finally result in a mass mess. Pakistan has a history of over 75 years, and we may take a look at what we, as a nation, have been doing all these years. Clearly, we have failed to steer the country in the right direction, and this sustained failure has come to haunt us big time.

This path of destruction was paved by debatable decisions by the rulers, either driven by vested interests or lacking far-sightedness which is an essential leadership attribute. Far-sightedness in economic terms is more relevant as we are passing through an economic catastrophe. The acute shortage of intellect has generally characterised the scenario and things have gone from bad to worse over time. This is apparent if one looks at the blunders made by economic teams of all recent governments; no exceptions.

Common Pakistanis’ favourite pastime is listening to political talk shows that are full of rhetoric and venom against opponents, creating hysteria. With all the nonsense the gullible have lapped up during such shows, they go out fully armed to beat their own friends, colleagues and relatives with amazing zest and emotion. The only casualty in such incidents is common sense, which, as the old dictum goes, is not really common.

People somehow fail to realise that the problems have continued to be on the rise for years irrespective of the political government in power at any given point in time. It is not too hard to see with clarity that all the current political forces have failed to deliver and were unable to address the country’s fundamental economic issues. There is no point in one blaming the other. They are all utter failures.

We are like a critically ill patient moving towards multiple organ failure, the primary disease being carcinoma but with several co-morbidities, like hypertension, diabetes, lung infection and so on. What will be the priority of the medical team? The oncologist will first neutralise the life-threatening condition and then work with other consultants to devise a long-term rehabilitation plan. Right?

In Pakistan’s case, the life-threatening ailment is our economic plight and we need economic consultants to devise and develop a sustainable solution. All other specialists, whether political or security-related, must remain subservient to the robust economic plan that we need rather urgently.

All have to bow down to national economic interests even if it demands sacrificing our slice of power, authority, benefits and monetary share. Realisation of this effect and a national consensus on economic revival are the only things we should be worrying about. The rest is like focussing on controlling, say, hypertension in a cancer patient.

Basit Naseer
Lahore

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2023

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