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No spin zone: Asian tiger romp-in-the-woods

Published Apr 16, 2011 11:29pm


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It was Mian Nawaz Sharif who boasted of making Pakistan an Asian Tiger. His glib tongued successor Shaukat Aziz echoed the empty promise. The tiger still romps the woods. Now, President Zardari thinks by merely calling a moot of economic gurus, the tiger can be netted and brought back to Islamabad from the wilds.

God speed to the president. But a jump start never worked. How many more moons to go before the impoverished, corrupt and moth-eaten economy can start to show any positive results? Apart from worshipping the dead, or destroying their mazaars, the leaders from top to the ordinary man on the street appear paralysed. If anyone of you chanced to switch on the TV on the afternoon of April 3, you would know what I am about to describe.

On the state run PTV we watched Zardari and his son Bilawal lay bouquets of roses and tiger lilies on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s grave; on another channel I watched the most bizarre, macabre and sickening sight of a corpse being cooked (Was Pemra awake or asleep to subject unsuspecting viewers to such graphic scenes repeatedly?); and yet on another channel I watched suicide bombers kill innocent men, women and children at the Sakhi Sarwar shrine in Dera Ghazi Khan.

Asian tiger? Forget it! Chances of becoming a Taliban tiger are brighter. And to say our civil and military establishment does not know what’s happening in the country is telling a lie. Everyone in civilian and uniform attire knows only too well that Pakistan is being surrounded on all sides by terrorists. Our rulers have retreated to their bunkers and well-fortified garrisons. They ‘lead’ the embattled country from behind iron walls out of reach for a suicide bomber to strike.But when the angel of death comes, no number of tigers from the commando elite force can prevent the inevitable.

Gen Zia went into hiding at the Army House in Pindi but death got to him; Gen Musharraf too sought refuge behind the Army House and dug his heels into the presidency. Death spared him, but he got booted out. To say that the terrorists are not advancing towards the nerve centres of Pakistan is also telling a lie. The KP government drowns in aid dollars never seen before. It’s a race against time – they must grab the last cent for themselves before their game is up.

Daylight kidnappings for ransom, bomb attacks and killings continue unquestioned. Only ten years ago, one drove around the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa fearlessly. Unaccompanied by their males, women played golf at Peshawar and Nowshera clubs and shopped at the Kissakhwani (heads uncovered). The whole area from the Attock bridge to Khyber Pass was a dream to drive through, especially in spring when apple and apricot blossoms hit the eye anywhere one cared to look. The two rivers – Kabul and Indus added to the beautific scene and at the spot where the two met, Kund, friends often set camps to take in their confluence.

Goodbye to all that. Goodbye to the oil and gas fields the foreigners explored. Most have shut down their wells and fled. Recently an engineer of a foreign drilling company was kidnapped for ransom around Bannu. The Frontier Constabulary guards were killed. Did this hit the headlines? No. What is the establishment waiting for? Will its armies move in once the terrorists have overrun the province?

Our rulers must remember that if the people are helpless to save their country, fate intervenes. To say we are far from that day is living in a fool’s paradise. Who is accountable for the daily death and destruction, reckless state spending, load shedding laying thousands jobless? Pakistan is a strange country where the poor pay taxes and the rich spend them! Our rulers – civil and military - are guilty of gross negligence.

While the Punjab government quibbles with the Centre over the term ‘Punjabi Taliban’, the terrorists are quietly but surely advancing towards the urban areas and sporadically showing their muscle by blowing up government buildings and killing police personnel. Again, what is the establishment waiting for? Name one province where the Taliban have not struck in the past three years.

And, ah, the civil society! Like the Asian tiger, civil society too has lost its way in the jungle. Islamabad is rife with all kinds of NGOs claiming to help the poor. That may be so, but name one NGO that is working as a pressure group to challenge the government’s corruption. We do read sweeping statements from certain high flying NGOs who denounce the parliamentary workings of the ruling party, but their foreign donors are pulling their strings. Who then to trust? Everyone has a vested interest to serve.

Doing the blog rounds is yet one more NGO that wants “concerned citizens” with “proven ability, commitment and integrity – to provide the lead and help realise its mission. Never doubt, that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change this world. Indeed, this is the only thing that has!”

That may be so, but when did change occur by mere words? Our greatest misfortune has been words. They come cheap. As Pakistan advances in age, words, empty words slap us from the moment we wake up to the time we sleep. We live on opiates. Words make us sick. A former intelligence officer says, “I can act. Give me a month to fix things.” He knows where and who to attack. I believe him.


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (12) Closed

JK Apr 17, 2011 11:07am
True picture. It was bound to happen. Gandhi and Nehru predicted Pakistans demise in 1947. Religion cannot build a nation. It can sure destroy it. Example: Pakistan !
Ikram ullah Khan Apr 17, 2011 11:33am
No one reads serious news and no one even dares to write any comments. Unless the out of control population growth is checked, and people start seriously questioning the source of morality there is no glimmer of hope. Urbanization is getting out of control. But, who is going to bell the cat?
Indus Apr 17, 2011 11:58am
@JK Alas,one can only agree with you. Anything built on hatred will never succeed. Pakistanis need to reflect on that. People who do not respect history, deny and distort it, will be doomed and damned by history.
Rastogi Apr 17, 2011 12:52pm
India & Pakistan are twins, with corruption in their DNA. However, it is upbringing, which can help minimize the impact of the defect. India developed a system to check it, while Pakistan finished the checking system.
manish Apr 17, 2011 10:43pm
it is sad to see the state of Pakistan. but i am surprised there was not much mention about Anna Hazare episode and its effect in Indian politics in Pakistani media. if media had highlighted these happenings i am sure many of the right thinking men would have given their thoughts to bring Pakistani establishment to take steps which could remove some of the ills of Pakistani establishment.
Rahmat Apr 18, 2011 04:00am
Pakistan can still have a decent future if they can give up fixation with religion, and take army to task for interfering in civilian governance. Get rid of Bhuttus and Sharifs and the like and elect real people. Pakistan has natural beauty/resources, beautiful people who are no less smart than their neighbour to the east.
Sarah Apr 18, 2011 05:33am
@ JK: I disagree. Israel is another example of a nation built on a religious identity to the point that it offers citizenship to every Jew across the world regardless of their origin of birth or parentage and its done a great job of not only surviving, but has the most powerful country in the world as its allly. Religion does not make or break a nation - its how people choose to govern themselves or choose to sit back in apathy while others ruin their country that matters. Pakistan has the misfortune of being too geostrategic and of having a population who can, like the author says, say things but not act upon them.
Ess Bess Tinio Apr 18, 2011 07:04am
In India one percent of the wealthy corrupts and in Pakistan less than .5 percent of the wealthy corrupts are ruling these countries.The majority of public in both the countries do not want war .The politicians in both the countries are fooling the public to show the threat from either side to keep their chairs in tact .In Pakistan these corrupt leaders will soon be hammered by the poor public and in India little later by their own public.May be the opposite .change is the Law of nature.
G.A. Apr 18, 2011 05:46pm
@JK - ghandi and Nehru are not the only ones who predicted Pakistan's demise. And they predicted that it would be gone by 1948. Pakistan is still around.
Asif Apr 19, 2011 12:44am
'Pakistan is a strange country where the poor pay taxes and the rich spend them!' is in my opionion the most important sentence in this well written article.
TL Apr 19, 2011 01:22am
Let me ask all those who are reading this article. How many of you pay your taxes, especially income taxes, fully and honestly without taking advantage of the loop holes that exist? Are you one of the 1.7 million people who do so? If not then you have no right to call anybody corrupt or even comment about corruption as from my point of you you are a part of it. First pay your share then your have a right to talk.
Saad Durrani Apr 19, 2011 12:17pm
I do not understand what's the problem here. If anyone of our learned op-ed writes a critical piece on his own country, we would see someone from the other side of the border to retort about their greatness. Isn't it time for you to move on? Furthermore, I think Anjum (God bless her good heart!) has been saying the same thing for an year. I hope some of us listen to her and work on things. It is about time that we start somewhere.