SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
After the publications of Babar Ayaz’s highly readable book titled What is wrong with Pakistan?, there has been a revival of interest on the subject. People have spoken on this contentious issue in forums, and the latest person to have dilated on this theme is the Boston-educated scholar and author Dr Ishrat Husain, a former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and currently dean of the Institute of Business Administration, who is armed with a formidable masterly grip on the subject. In his address to a select audience in a private function, he listed the numerous things that had hastened the slow recession into the twilight, which would need a book to enumerate fully.
The answer to the loaded question about how the nation had slipped down the tube is very, very complicated. The country is constantly faced by the lurking threat of balkanisation; the fear of another major conflict with India, the issue of Kashmir that hangs like a millstone around the neck of whoever happens to sit in the prime minister’s chair; the menace of militancy; the unbridled rise in population; the low growth rate, the increase in street crimes and crimes against women; unchecked lawlessness; the belief that we have more enemies than friends… and the constant state of temporariness in everything we do. Things even reached the point when people started to question the wisdom of Partition.
The liberal view of the problem is that a quintet formed by the military, the bureaucracy, the business class, the feudal class and the clergy has exerted a stranglehold on the masses by the power it generates. Some analysts have added the love-hate relationship with the Americans. It might be useful to point out here that if it hadn’t been for President Richard Nixon, there mightn’t have been much left of the Pakistani military, because in 1971, after the fall of Dhaka, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was hell-bent on unleashing the full might of the vastly superior Indian military on ours. Nixon apparently phoned Brezhnev of the Soviet Union and threatened to use the Seventh Fleet unless Mrs Gandhi decided to pull back her troops.
Some historians, like Ayaz, feel that the Two-Nation Theory is the root cause of the malaise and that Mr Jinnah miscalculated the degree of acceptance of the people in adopting a secular system. As the founding editor of the Herald magazine, I had interviewed Shaikh Mujibur Rahman twice in his office in Dhaka where the street was full of cycle-rickshaws. On the second occasion, he spoke about the injustices that had been committed on his people “by the colonials in the west”. And then he unfolded to me his famous Six Points, secure in the knowledge that they would be published in Karachi. Some economists believe the main causes of the problem are corruption, the absence of the rule of law, gross wastage and mismanagement of the economy, where the ratio of M2 (money in circulation) as a proportion of the GDP is dangerously high, indicating a huge black economy which does not contribute to the exchequer and makes democratic governments borrow heavily from the SBP. Yousaf Raza Gilani had learnt early in his career that all he had to do to pay salaries to the freeloaders was to get the authorities to print more banknotes. Who cares if the dollar shoots up in price and the cost of living increases? Or that Malala Yousufzai gets so much hate mail? There is a genetic disorder in our country that even the Swiss doctors will not be able to cure.