Forward March Into the Abyss

17Nov09

[picapp src=”a/3/5/2/Pakistanis_Mourn_Policeman_0efd.jpg?adImageId=7556253&imageId=4953532″ width=”380″ height=”260″ /]

President Asif Ali Zardari has spoken out against his opponents and their ‘vilification campaign’ against him. He claims that the Pakistan People’s Party would continue its ‘forward march.’ Someone should tell him and his party that they’re already at a precipice, and if they continue this ‘forward march’, not only are they going over, they’re taking the rest of us with them!

And it’s not just me. It appears to be the general view in the country. In an interview with me, Kamran Shafi, the political analyst and commentator, responded firmly to several tweeters who complained of President Zardari. He argued, “ We should give politicians the same amount of time that we seemingly give to our dictators. We have to let civilian governments complete their tenures. If you can give 10 years to a dictator what’s 4 to an elected leader?” While I agree with Mr Shafi when he says that Pakistanis should be as tolerant of elected leaders as they are of military dictators, I have to throw my hands up and say… come on…throw us a scrap, a bone, would ya?

I understand that much of the mess we are in was caused by the policies of the previous government. There is enough evidence that shows us that now. But the unfortunate truth that I too have been forced to accept is that there needs to be some evidence of governance. Even if the previous decades have brought us where we are now, why can’t our present rulers do something different or simply do something? It can’t go on like this forever, can it?

There appears to be a free-for-all. No one appears to know what’s happening. Our politicians are busy with their mud slinging and point-scoring. The Pakistan army vomits up random numbers everyday: 12 Taliban killed, 20 militants killed. Not only is there no way of verifying those numbers, as there are no journalists on the ground, but I find it impossible to believe that there have been no civilian casualties. Next to those headlines, Pakistanis read more numbers: 8 killed in another suicide attack, 48 killed in a bomb attack, depending on what time of day it may have been. Even as I write this, a bomb has exploded in Quetta.

How long can the people of Pakistan wake up to seeing this:

AP photo in Daily Times Nov 16

and this:

AP photo in Daily Times Nov 16

and not lose heart?

It is time for a national consensus. It is time to stop talking and start acting.

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25 Responses to “Forward March Into the Abyss”

  1. It is time to stop talking and start acting but who will act? Certainly not the people in power, it is us who need to force change to happen.

    When students protested against their schools shutting down one of us organized a protest at the press club….. 2 bloggers showed up…all we do is talk as well.

    A few of us talk a bit better than the others we call them journos, my point is if sugars too pricey why don’t we all stop buying it? Why don’t we bring it down…why do we just write about it and then go drink a cup of coffee or tea full of the same stuff.

  2. 2 sabir khalid

    nice article!! really It is time for a national consensus. It is time to stop talking and start acting but how??????

  3. 3 Timothy Thompson

    Pakistan needs a functioning and transparent civilian government as a part of a vibrant civil society. Pakistan need this right now.

    It’s not just the PPP, although they carry plenty of the blame. It’s the circus atmosphere of all political parties in the midst of what some foreigners are terming the beginning of a Pakistani Civil War or, at least, the Pakistani Insurgency. Are 300 civilian deaths per month not enough to promote a sense of urgency in Islamabad to preserve the Pakistani nation? Will 1000 deaths per month be enough? How about 5,000 deaths per month and the closure of all meaningful civil institutions?

    In Moscow, the Supreme Soviet kept meeting and bickering for months after the Soviet Union ceased to exist. The silly dance at the Kremlin just kept going. The deputies left only when they were kicked out by Russian officials who needed the space.

    One wonders if this fate awaits the Pakistani National Assembly. Will they bicker and walk in and walk out and strut about until someone – from Army House or a new Punjab Republic government – informs them their services are no longer needed and they need to go home? Or will this stage in the history of the government of Pakistan end not with a whimper but a large bang courtesy of one of the ISI’s bastard stepchildren.

  4. 4 shaheryar mirza

    curious as to what you mean when you say ‘it’s time for a national consensus’….? can you elaborate on that?

    • I’ve written it before as well, Shaheryar. I think there needs to be a unified voice. Increasingly, we’re seeing that different militant groups come together to work against Pakistan. I think this is the time for the leading political parties to work with each other, and also for the military to work with the elected leadership. When people see that happen, they too may be motivated. (I’m not saying they will, but there’s a better chance of it happening.) Pakistanis stand together as one across the board – it’s been known to happen in nations that are under attack.

      And, it could all start with the government doing what it’s meant to do – govern.

      • 6 sabir khalid

        naveen u think that this goverment will survive????

      • 7 shaheryar mirza

        Yeah I think until the government understands how to properly employ propaganda it will have a hard time unifying the nation. Granted, propaganda has a negative connotation but unifying a nation during a time of war is the easiest time to do it yet our government fails to do so. As the media is young/immature here so is the government’s ability to properly manipulate it.

        I think a lot of the Pakistani public is also just confused as to what the whole situation is in Pakistan. It’s hard for people to abandon certain notions, even though they are being challenged on a daily basis. Yet, there is a common thread throughout the nation, it is hard for everyone to articulate what they are feeling. Also, a large segment of the public don’t have an outlet and may find it difficult to show solidarity, and that is just a reality of a developing country. That being said, once the situation gets worse, and people are on the same page people will find a way to have their voices heard. Hopefully.

  5. 8 Saadie

    Naveen: Excellent article, some very good points raised.

    Faisal: you are totally on spot, the tragedy of this nation is that we youth just talk.

  6. since sugar is too pricey , why not STOP using it ??

    This logic is simply like since POLICE cant catch the criminals, why not put the whole city in lockup

    Emotional rhetoric can give us temporary solutions, we need long term planning

  7. Hi Naveen! First of all I appreciate you had a brief piece which covered all the basic ingredients of our failure to handle the major threats Pakistan is currently facing. As Shakespeare said; Brevity is the soul of wit. No doubt, your brevity in describing Pakistan’s situation is a proof of your clear thoughts on present crisis and it’s solution.

    Now you covered the blame game, inefficiency, lack of sincerity and wisdom as some of the basic factors for present chaos and absence of basic needs of people – sugar is just one of many.

    The solution you gave is perfect – consensus. I am sure you have in mind that it is a consensus to collectively admit our past mistakes and then work as one team to efficiently and sincerely handle all issues one by one. Once there is consensus, it will be an agreement among all – no more corruption, loot, plunder and cheating of any type for the sake of people of Pakistan and maximum available resources will be spent on them in the most honest way.

    All above looks seems correct analysis of situation, causes and easy remedy – consensus. Is it possible in near future? I don’t see it despite it is a need of hour. The present chaos will increase more since we will never do a collective repentance for crimes against country and people. We as a nation will continue like this – making the society and system more corrupt and miserable for all of us.

    President Zardari will continue in power despite all odds. Nawaz Sharif may win next election due to poor performance of PPP while in power and Kamran Shafi Sb will be also happy that his at least one national wish has been fulfilled.

    When hopes of pakistanis will be fulfilled? Only when they will change the hearts and mind of their own and all around. All have to be honest and sincere with Pakistan and contribute their best for the betterment of people. My intuition says things will worsen to the worst before they start improving. This could be five to seven years period depending when all of us repent and start “joint repair” of Pakistan as a missionary or revolutionary cause. But the current turmoil will prolong and get more worst as we out of fear or hypocrisy have stopped calling a spade a spade in all walks of life.

    So there will be more and more of debates for the sake of debates at all forums and mere talk never walks. The hearts and minds of people need to be taught – self discipline. Where is our Leader who can motivate people to do first a collective repentance and then march on for better Pakistan.

    So stay put for next two terms. Zardari to complete and Nawaz to come and people’s miseries to multiply. I believe Pakistanis deserve that since most of us are selfish and our own interests are first. All complain and cry for Pakistan but content with present condition and as Faisal Kapadia mentioned no one ready to act; so let’s continue talking in a philosophical way on all TV talk shows with breaks for Breaking news of another blast. This is a sorry state but written on the wall and our connivance, cowardliness and selfishness brought us to this stage and will go miles down the road until a big wake up stumble – separation of East Pakistan was easily forgotten.

  8. this march is to an unknown direction which will result in a dead end unless they do not decide a proper direction after a national consensus but it it also a fact that now the time asking for an actions rather than shallow statements. after all for how long these so called people’s Political Leaders keep general people in dark.
    the common man is surrounded by so many individual problems that she do not have time to bother the national level problems and it is all due to the unrealistic way of governing by the government.

    • Rai – Ditto! Herd of Lost Sheep have no direction. They may be marching towards a ditch or going further away from home. The common man – seeing him very closely – I can say; he is not less guilty. I have met many “PaRsa” (pious) in this country but later discovered their piety is only due to their being “Na-Rasa” (one having no opportunity to rob). We are our own Enemy #1 and doesn’t need any foreign threat to destroy us like so many Conspiracy theories believers believe. No one has to conspire to harm us, we make their job pretty easy. Our Government represents us and selected by us and mirror of our own characters and attitudes towards life. The lambs never elect wolves as their leaders. That is why I never believe in Zardari going as our savior act, Zardari in each of us has to go. The corruption in Pakistan which has ruined the country and as well structure of society will never end until each one of us hangs up saying – from Today I will not be part of it and will do my best in my area of jurisdiction – will not allow any one to do it. Stop it by hand, or by speaking up or at least feel bad about the one doing it as the least sign of any faith left in us. That will be the advent of CHANGE and FRESH START – Will not rob people and their resources – state resources are their resources – and will also not allow any one to do that. There should be Consensus on this strategy among Nation and this Resolution of No Corruption for the sake of Saving Pakistan will be the Herald of Change – this country is waiting for last six decades. Mere changing of faces and people will not being the Change. The Change of Characters of People will bring the Real Change. Until we realize this and act fast to pull the dead dog (of corruption) out of the village well named Pakistan – all other means of cleaning water – will be futile. Make a slogan – PakPakistan – a corruption free Pakistan will be the New Pakistan – the whole world is waiting more eagerly to see than Pakistanis themselves. The Corruption Free pakistan is an Idea whose Time has come but we Pakistanis are doing our best to Delay the Time. Any further delay will be a Lost Opportunity and lost of Hope of Better Future. Our survival as a Nation depends on this single factor – To be Corrupt or not to be Corrupt – which will also decide – To be a beggar or not to be a beggar. Corruption at all levels of helm in power and in spheres of our system as forced us to be International Beggars and the satire is we need Alms with Dignity. KLB conditions challenge our Dignity and Sovereignty. Where are all these high morals and ethics when an out of law – NRO – can give mercy to all Thugs? We have more of KLB type humiliation if we keep on blessed pardoned NROs among us.

  9. 13 Munzir Naqvi

    Excellent article, Ms. Naveen Naqvi, what we are seeing is either the beginning the Pandora Box or the Pandora Box’s Final Chapter in Pakistan’s young but troubled history. Thank you for reminding us

    Some great points made in the comments section as well. There are a few leaders of hope, like Imran Khan, who have made their words in to some type of action, but they must have a unifying message not against some body or against a foreign country, but For Pakistan. There are not too many politicians

    Although I do not remember it, since I was not alive in the 1960’s-1970’s, I have been told by elders and by written books that there was once a time when we needed a national conscience, Pakistan was under General Ayub Khan, people rose and Democracy, but not for good, and at that time, Changed Happened! Though it was not ideal, but it was change of that time. Although the situation was different then, the climate was different then, people came together.

    What is different this time is the conditions are worse than ever before. What is different from the 1990’s and today are a few things: A Stronger Judiciary, An Independant Media and a War in a neighboring country (And even our own) and two rising economies which are also neighbors. But most importantly, people’s awareness.

    the 1990’s, Pakistan made it with little governance, some how some way but it was luck. Today, we can’t depend on that luck, especially when there is a War and the Capital is in a lock down, and Peshawar is threatened daily, and the fact that we have Nuclear Technology, with Nulear Technology comes responsibility. If we do not handle our mess in Governance, a third party will take care of our mess in their own interests.

    Great Article Ms.Naveen Naqvi, keep up the great journalism work you do.

  10. 14 shobz

    It’s important for the current government to stay in power so that they can tackle our current situation. We all know for a fact that it’s the army who is conducting the operation but then there isnt any legitimacy if there is no one running the state. The politicians should stop bickering and unite. We might slip into a state of anarchy no one will be able to do anything. It’s a pity that these people are selfish and do not care about the problems faced by the common man.

  11. 15 Rizwan Hafeez

    I am encourged to read all this stuff. If i were to identify one point that has solution to most of our problems, it is “Leadership”. All we need is 1 leader. I have waited too long for this Leader to arrive.

    I think its about time for so many of us to start doing something. Can we start from somewhere?

    Lets start meeting once a week for 1 hour at some place in each city. Some park / ground. lets start developing something piece by piece. Lets have bagdes. lets spread the word. Lets start talking, discussing and start forming a voice. I am sure, others will start joining in.

    Naveen you started the discussion and you deserve to lead?

    any thoughts? any one?

  12. 16 Qadir Thebo

    i thinks media and judiciary can play winning role with the support of civil society to continue with present demoratic government to overcme all the problems of the country

  13. 17 Natasha

    While I agree that civilian governments must be given a chance to complete their tenures and that people shud give their verdict through the ballot , I just cannot endorse giving a free hand to to this government allowing them to ruin whatever’s left of this unfortunate land of the pure.The way they’e going , they will only plunge the country into a state of irrecoverable chaos.

    Now that this government is more than two years old , blaming Musharraf’s regime is not an option.The previous govt. is not to be held responsible for the ongoing corruption at a massive scale neither it is responsible for how Zardari has been contributing to political instability in the country. This government has FAILED.I am sick and tired of PPP leaders’ glorification of this ONCE great party.There is no marching forward with Zardari and his corrupt cronies in office.They all need to quit if they ACTUALLY want PPP to move forward.

    Empty vessels make most noise – Zardari’s an apt example.

  14. 18 Natasha

    Qadir ,

    //i thinks media and judiciary can play winning role with the support of civil society to continue with present demoratic government to overcme all the problems of the country//

    This government itself is proving to be the biggest problem of the country.

    P.S. I support democracy.

  15. 19 Natasha

    Rizwan ,

    No ONE person can turn Pakistan around.It’s the mindset that needs to be changed.We dont need a superman.

    • 20 Rizwan Hafeez

      I immensely respect your views and deep interest Natasha. Yes, the issue is mindset and every other thing. My point is just that the correction process will start at the top and 1 leader can set so much right with this nation; Vision, Involvement, Engagement, Ownership, etc, etc.

      We need to start believing again in ourselves, our nation and Pakistan. This can only happen if we have a genuine leader whom we believe in. To me, it is as simple as that.

      No we dont need a Superman. But we do need a Man, an upright, honest, committed, Visionary one. In essence, a Leader.

      Dear Everyone. Pls dont let this debate fizzle out. Lets continue the discussion for the same may start converting into actions; no matter how small. May be just a slogan to begin with.

      Something like, “I Believe in Pakistan” or whatever. We have suffered but i just cant let this happen to our Children and our Poor Innocent People

  16. 21 Natasha

    There’s no democracy within the self-proclaimed flag-bearers of democracy – the PPP.That’s the root cause of all the problems faced by this government.

  17. 22 wendeth

    Faisal-Stop using sugar…..that is a great idea…and I noticed the response, which is typical of a person who doesn’t understand how sacrifice works. During the U.S. civil rights movment(s) it was a strike against riding the bus…march after march…after march, and other sacrifices which caused change to finally take place. I think your suggestion is a good one.

    I also agree with shaheryar “unifying a nation during a time of war is the easiest time to do it yet our government fails to do so. As the media is young/immature here so is the government’s ability to properly manipulate it.”. Regardless of Musharraf’s good/bad points, even the stuff he did right (or less wrong) was not properly introduced to the society. The common person in any country tends to be fickle. If something is fed to them long enough as “news”, they will come to accept it as valid, even believe it. I applaud (some of) the growth of journalism in Pakistan, and hope now for a maturity to come out of the experience.

    The dialogue on this blog is much better than on other places. I commend you all for, even in disagreement or unpopular ideas, communicating in a manner which proves there are people who truly care about Pakistan and don’t simply just want to cry about what’s going on. I hope some ideas can come to fruition and you all can create a Pakistan that functions on a level where the people are being heard and served by their leaders…..truly elected or not.


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