16th March, 2013 marks a historic day for Pakistan. It is the first time in it’s history that a democratically elected civilian government in Pakistan has completed it’s full term. Zardari and company have managed to keep all the forces i.e. the opposition, the military, the judiciary, the establishment and others (sudden pop ups, foreign hands and what not’s) at bay to secure this ‘landmark achievement’. Credit must be given for the politicians to have matured from the what was otherwise a different approach towards power play in the 90’s, before the Musharraf era.
However I am not really celebrating. Neither is the nation. The above mentioned is perhaps about the only thing that the government has managed to do in the last 5 years to its credit. In all honesty and truth the last 5 years have pretty much been dismal, disappointing and somewhat isolating. Economically things have worsened. Part of that is due to mismanagement of one industry after another. Part of it is due to the continued lack of real or sincere work towards fixing the energy crisis of the country which affects a lot of industries with long outages and power shortages. Part of it is due to a general global economic decline and one of the worst periods really since the great depression. The rich have unfortunately gotten richer in Pakistan and the poor have gotten poorer. The disparity has vastly increased. To get a brief idea of the economic performance in the last 5 years read the blog on Dawn’s website through the following link:
Cost of living has increased. There has been no growth in industry. In fact the industries which are there and were supposed to be strong have also suffered. Job markets are tight. There is an increase in unemployment and those who are in employment are constantly struggling to make ends meet since the pay scales do not go hand in hand with the increasing inflation in this country. The white collar and blue collar workers are suffering because of this. Governance is absent or rather has been. The national airline carrier has constantly been run into the ground due to incompetency. That wonderful term ‘Circular Debt’ that we have all been hearing for years and years is still around. No joy there. Education hasn’t improved. There are still ghost schools out there. There is still a vast majority of children who are deprived of access to education. There is still a vast majority of poor who are deprived with access to basic necessities of life like food, water and shelter. Corruption has always been a given so I don’t even need to start on that. But unfortunately the tale of the last 5 years doesn’t simply end at the economic or governance bit.
Security and terrorism have been part and parcel of viewing conditions in Pakistan for the last 13 years, ever since we joined hands with the US in the War on Terror. And over the last few years those areas have also worsened. This has of course also contributed to the economic situation. Investment in the country has been discouraged. Terrorist attacks, target killings have been frequent. And recently there has been a rise in ethnic violence as well with minorities being targeted either by ignorant fools or by extremist outfits. Calls for a crackdown on militancy to end Shia Genocides have been loud in the last 3 months with 3 major attacks on Shia communities in Quetta and Karachi. And to add to that various spread out incidents of Shias being killed. A couple of weeks back an ex colleague of mine was killed simply because he was a Shia. A doctor was killed in Lahore a month back. And there are many many such incidents. Then there are the ignorant fools as well as mentioned earlier. They have long been popping up in different places to cry ‘Blasphemy’ and attack minorities. There was the christian girl’s case last year. Prior to that there have been many such cases where Christian families have had to flee their homes because someone cried blasphemy and the whole town sought their blood. Recently 100 christian homes were burnt by an angry mob over blasphemy allegations in Lahore. The government has been absent in all of these occasions. Security has been lacking. A crackdown on militant outfits has been lacking.
Sport as also been a victim of terrorism. The entire nation can never forget the day the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in Lahore. International cricket has since been a far away dream for this place. But given the situation one doubts getting an international team to come visit now would be the best of ideas. What if there is another attack? We can kiss international cricket good bye forever then?
It has been 5 years of blundering and staggering incompetence by Zardari and company. We have had to experience the worst situation in terms of security and militancy in the last 5 years where the government has been so incompetent that in the last year they turned to switching off wireless networks in order to deter attacks. And yet even if the attacks didn’t take place on the day that the services were switched off they did on other days. The state has failed to provide the basic needs of the people of this nation.
There has been no achievement of any value in terms of progress in the last 5 years other than the fact that we have had a full term of a civilian government. A democratically elected government. That has been the only ‘REAL’ achievement and of course it is unprecedented. But then there is no use of such an achievement if there is no good coming out of it for the nation. So yes Mr. President congratulations on 5 years of uninterrupted supplies of corruption avenues and power. You have managed to keep your government intact. This truly does call for celebration and patting yourself on the back.
Democracy needs to be given a chance to properly get nurtured and grow in this country. We have unfortunately never really let it grow. There has always been a halt in progress either by the military or by opposition. This is maybe the first step. Maybe we need to give it 10-15 years before the bad blood flows out of ‘democracy’ and people with good intentions start getting involved in the setup. PTI to a certain extent represents that hope.
However at the same time we all know that PTI is not coming in to power on its own if there really are to be free and fair elections. But let’s be honest – how many of us think that 10 more years of such ‘democracy’ will Pakistan be able to take as a nation before a boiling point is hit? I don’t think there would be a lot of takers. Because when you look at the last 5 years then one can’t help but wonder ‘democracy at what cost’.
In any case guys lets ensure that we use our power to vote with sense and with an aim to bring change for betterment of Pakistan.