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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Pakistan Disaster

Published: March 13, 2009
Section: Opinions

<i>PHOTO from Internet Source</i>

PHOTO from Internet Source

I wake up every morning asking myself the same question: how far can the bottom go in rock bottom? No, I am not referring to the current economic crisis that has plagued the United States and markets around the world in the last few months. I am referring to the growing crisis in my home country, Pakistan, which seems to be crumbling towards an irreversible and inevitable calamity. Every morning I wake up to a new benchmark of rock bottom, pouring through articles and news updates about a new disaster in Pakistan.

The recent terrorist strikes on the Sri Lankan cricket team hit me harder than any other recent disaster – it punctured an irreparable hole into the one thing our nation still prided itself upon, the world of Cricket. For the first time in my entire life, I have found my eternal optimism turning into a hopeless and pathetic wish for improvement in my country.

Quaid-e-Azam (Muhammad Ali Jinnah), better known as the founder of Pakistan, said the following in a famous address to the nation just two months after it gained independence from India in August 1947: “My message to all of you is of hope, courage and confidence. Let us mobilize all our resources in a systematic and organized way and tackle the grave issues that confront us with grim determination and discipline worthy of a great nation.”

Sixty odd years down the road, every note of optimism in that message has been forgotten, or blatantly disregarded by narrow-minded and inept politicians who seem to be doing anything but tackling the grave issues in a systematic and organized way. The result: a nation left in turmoil where the average citizen cannot even turn to his or her government during times of greatest need.

As a liberal Pakistani, I echo the same sentiment that the ordinary citizen back at home would share. The so called name of “Islam,” which has been manipulated beyond our wildest imaginations by the network of terrorists operating in the Pak-Afghan border regions, has resulted in far reaching consequences around the world, and more significantly, in Pakistan itself. I am writing this article because I want to share with you that we, as Pakistanis, do not want to see this violence continue. I would plead with my government to put aside its power trips and work with our neighbors to sustain peace and cooperation in the region. Yeah, sounds rather dreamy and idealistic right?

That is where our problem lies. We all seem to be resigned to the fact that we do not have any power to influence a change in our government’s policies. We should have no room for people like Asif Zardari or Nawaz Sharif, both of whom have almost bought their way to domestic success, charged with corruption and fraud. We need someone who, first off, is educated and has completed at the very least a Bachelor’s degree, someone who can say no to any form of religious intolerance and promote a secular and liberal Pakistan, and finally, someone who can put history aside and make much needed peace with India.

It is easy for someone like me, sitting thousands of miles away in the comfort of a relatively stable country, to criticize the events unfolding back at home. This is beyond criticism – this is the acceptance of an unfolding crisis which needs effective and immediate treatment. The “it will get better” attitude that almost all educated and liberal Pakistanis seemed to have clung to for years is finally dying.

It will NOT get better – if anything, it will get so much worse that we may not even be worthy of being called a nation in the not so distant future. I present it so brutally because honestly, sugar coating the issue, like we have been doing for years, is nothing but an excuse for not standing up as a nation to an increasingly devastating and disgusting force.

The tide is shifting, and unless we as a people do not start to voice our concerns and get rid of religious intolerance in our society, we may end up being ostracized from all forms of modern civilization. A place we once called home will be left as nothing but a distant memory full of unfulfilled hope, and the Quaid’s dream of being a “great nation” will be laughed at by generations to come when the history books of tomorrow are written. The time to act is now – I “hope” the citizens of our country can at least realize that.