Pakistan holds a very special place in the hearts of most of the older Indians who see it as a dismembered part of our nation. Families were separated and the property was lost. An imaginary and unfinished line was drawn through the sub-continent by Cyril Radcliffe resulting in the largest transmigration of people anywhere in the World and leaving over 2 million dead as a result of politically motivated rioting.
Pakistan literally means “Land of the Pure.” It is another matter that nothing could be further away from the truth when one looks at its deeds and actions over the last 7 decades. Pakistan is home to Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed, LeT, JeM, Harakatul Mujahideen, Haqqani network and dozens of other terrorist groups and continuous denials by the Pakistani establishment is no longer being accepted by the World.
What has gone wrong with this dream of Jinnah? How is his message of Unity, Faith and Discipline being addressed in modern Pakistan? Where has Pakistan, its leaders and its population, lost the plot?
Let us look at some of the challenges that are being faced by Pakistan.
Religion and the Muslim Brotherhood – Pakistan believes very strongly in the Muslim Ummah (community). The Muslim Brotherhood. Pakistani journalists express shock and surprise when they are not given blind support from all other Muslim countries on their issues. While the Ummah will always remain relevant, it can no longer become a crutch to reach out to these nations for handouts and doles without a quid pro quo.
The other Muslim nations from the Ummah are not willing to provide blind support to Pakistan on their support to so many the terrorist cells housed in Pakistan. Nationalism in the other Muslim nations is based on wealthy ethnicity, language and culture rather than simply on religion as has been seen in Pakistan. This was one of the major reasons why Bangladesh broke away in 1971. How long will religion keep on feeding the appetite of the masses and for how long can religion provide jobs, development and education?
Kashmir – Pakistan does not ever want to let go of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir knowing very well that India will never give up its claim on Kashmir. Kashmir is almost a rallying cry for its leadership but this is now becoming irrelevant on the international stage and very weak within Pakistan. Secessionist movements are growing in Baluchistan and it is a matter of time before other states start to express their frustration with the Pakistani establishment.
Anti-India Sentiment – How long can Pakistan keep feeding its population with anti-India sentiments and how long will their gullible population continue to survive on a diet of hatred? When I first visited Karachi, in 2002, I was surprised to find how much animosity there was against India. For a population fed on anti-India propaganda, they know no better. History for Pakistan starts from 1947. The fact that Pakistan was a part of India is wiped out from the minds and consciousness of the people.
But the reality is hitting home now. Journalists are questioning their politicians on why their country has been left so far behind. The Indian economy is almost 10 times the size of Pakistan and is growing at 7.5% per annum (4.5% for Pakistan) on a larger base.
With the growth of India, the World has de-hyphenated India and Pakistan. From a position of talking of the two nations together, India is no longer banded together with Pakistan. This must definitely be hurting the Pakistani establishment who want to be seen in the same league as India.
Victim Card – Pakistani politicians and journalists always play the victim card and go to great lengths to emphasise that they are the victims of terrorism and not its perpetrators. They have almost managed to convince the population that the entire World is conspiring against
them. These people must start to understand that the World does not owe Pakistan a living and they have to stand up and take control of their own destiny.
Nuclear Power – A nation that has nuclear power knows the huge responsibility that is associated with this power. Not so with Pakistan. Not a day goes in Pakistan when its journalists or its military does not talk about its nuclear capabilities. Several prominent journalists take pride in announcing repeatedly that they are the only Muslim nation that was chosen by Almighty God to be given this power.
How long will a population, suffering from hunger, shortage of power and no jobs keep filling its stomach with the comfort of their nation being a nuclear power? How long will they keep on taking cover under their presumed nuclear deterrent?
Corruption – Corruption has been the scourge of most developing nations of the World. In these countries, people bribe for what is theirs by right! Several countries in the World compete to be in the top 20 most corrupt nations of the World. It would give Pakistan some comfort and pride that in this one parameter, it has consistently managed to remain amongst the most corrupt nations of the World. The latest is the Panama Papers scandal which has former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif named as one of the perpetrators.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor – CPEC, once touted as the answer to all the problems of Pakistan has come back to bite. Investments committed by China, Pakistan’s “all weather” friend have been converted into interest bearing loans which the country cannot afford. The US$ 50 billion committed has now become an albatross around the slender and weak neck of Pakistan and the country does not have the ability to even service the interest leave alone repay the debt.
Jobs have been created in Pakistani but primarily for Chinese who have been shopped out in large numbers to Pakistan. Second hand equipment to manufacture cement has been sent from China. It is rumored that there are 20 million Chinese who have been given visas to work and stay in Pakistan. The Chinese currency Yuan is now widely accepted in Pakistan and some people believe that it is a matter of time before the Yuan becomes legal tender in Pakistan. It was rumored that Pakistan has decided to make mandarin an official language. This was quickly denied but there can be no smoke without fire!
Are we likely to see a repeat of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka where the Chinese companies have signed a 99 year lease and taken over the port? Is it only a matter of time before we see Chinese Naval ships positioned at this port?
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has, on 23rd February 2018, decided to put Pakistan on their grey list and this will have very significant consequences on Pakistan, already struggling to manage an economy in serious trouble. Unless Pakistan takes credible steps acceptable to the international community within the next three months, FATF may be the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back. With China voting against Pakistan on the FATF, I can almost hear Pakistani journalists stating “Et Tu China? Then fall Pakistan!”
Pakistan has only itself to blame for the situation that it finds itself in. Blaming one politician for all their faults is only a short term answer to the endemic problems Pakistan faces. The Pakistani Army which has ruled the country for almost half of its life as a nation also needs to take responsibility for the situation their country is faced with. The politicians and the Army have never trusted one another and are always watching their flanks, wary of the steps the other may take, both sides claiming to be the saviours of the nation.
The common man needs to wake and start demanding accountability from their leaders, both political and from the Army. It will take at least one generation to make a change in its mindset and that too if the process starts now. Supporting terrorism is not helping. Will Pakistan even be able to stay together as a nation of will it be implode?
Only economic prosperity in Pakistan will be able to meet the needs of the long-suffering common man. Unless there are opportunities to create wealth and have prosperity for their families, religion and rhetoric will only lead towards chaos.
There are no easy answers.
The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.