Changing perceptions

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Pakistan has been in existence for more than seven decades though its intellectual elite call it a short time in the life of nations. Perhaps it has become essential to review the intellectual pretensions and start viewing the happenings of Pakistan’s national life with an intensely critical eye. It should be kept in mind that the basis of western development was laid in the continuous process of self-criticism. To begin with the prevalent narrative that all criticism is negative must give way to the perception that most of criticism is constructive.

Pakistan needs to fundamentally alter the dimensions of its national concerns. It should be conceded that it is essentially the domestic viability of a nation-state that determines its position and not so-called victories in foreign clime. History is a stark reminder of the vulnerability of basing national existence on extraneous factors that have always proved short-lived.

The same fate was in store for so-called ideological base for national life. The emergence of communism and liberal democracy in the late 1940s is the clear manifestation that defensive strategies were given ideological colour. Notwithstanding, and quite wrongly, in the ongoing globalised era, effective diplomacy and efficacious foreign policy channels are ruling the roast to bring power and prestige to the country. This hardly realised that this is a self-defeating practice and needs to be abandoned.

Pakistan has suffered intense setbacks in the field of foreign affairs manifest by the recent snub by the Afghan government that recalled its ambassador on the basis of a comment of Pakistani prime minister that it interpreted as interference in its internal affairs. What is implied here is that undue and heavy reliance on foreign affairs coming to the rescue of faulty domestic policies is not a plausible track to follow any more.

It is time to heed lessons of history in rather longish national existence of Pakistan. The first and the foremost is that reliance on foreign policy exploits is inherently weak because foreign policy is the sum-total of domestic developments. It should be realised that it was dictatorships in Pakistan that relied on the foreign policy nexus to maintain their hold on power. The result is that Pakistan has still not been able to extricate itself from the mess of two successive Afghan wars. It is evident that the foolish foreign adventures played havoc with the domestic situation.

Pakistan cannot flex its muscle even as a nuclear power till its domestic front is rock solid. The arbitrary forces consistently try to belittle this essential attribute and wax eloquent of Pakistan’s international prestige. This is very difficult to justify as FATF is breathing on our necks and India compelling us to divert our commercial aviation causing enormous hardship to the common man.

What is needed is working for socio-political harmony in the country. It is explicit that the traditional elements are forcing down national agenda heavily laden by foreign policy imperatives despite realising that this agenda is going to lead nowhere. Unfortunately, the spin is so strong that socio-political elements feel difficult in swimming against the tide. Take for example, the sustained campaign against the 18th amendment of the Constitution that clearly stems out of misplaced notions of the absolute requirement for more centralisation.

It is now very clear that half-a century old framework designed to pursue an agenda based on foreign policy initiatives has become ineffective in the wake of rising domestic concerns. The forces-that-be are trying to turn the clock back to times which are simply not appropriate for the current times. These forces are convinced that they can still manipulate national affairs and overcome domestic concerns by carrying out perfunctory repair works.

But it is equally getting clear that domestic affairs are getting complicated by the day and it looks difficult to regulate them through methods designed in the past. It is open to all and sundry that the liberties taken with the electoral system in 2018 resembled the manipulation undertaken in the elections of Basic Democracy members and the irony is that the manipulative mindset has failed to grow out of such compromising tactic. This mindset still strongly believes that it is heavenly mandated to pay the role of a minder and refuses to concede that no one requires it to act in this way anymore.

Domestic considerations are weighing very heavily on the national body politic of Pakistan and the need is to sort them out accordingly. The time has come for the umpires to let the match play itself out. TW

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