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Change in thought process

Huzaima Bukhari

“It’s hard to deny that an alarming number of those who stood for peace, not war, were either killed by deranged lone gunmen or else died in suspicious circumstances. We refer of course to the likes of JFK, Martin Luther King, Benazir Bhutto, Bobby Kennedy and John Lennon, to name but a few”James Morcan in The Orphan Conspiracies

Human beings are essentially ego-centric, self-loving species that take immense pride not only in their achievements as lone crusaders but even when they are helped along by others. In many cases the journey from ‘I’ to ‘we’ is arduous and mostly at the expense of that inner conceit which is reluctant to whole-heartedly admit another’s contribution. On the other hand, moving from ‘we’ to ‘you’ hardly takes a moment, especially in adverse circumstances. There are innumerable examples in day to day life where for instance, usually husbands boast of providing for their families, conveniently ignoring the virtues of their wives in facilitating an enabling domestic environment but are quick to throw entire blame on them if anything goes wrong; where students brag about their intelligence in academic achievements, forgetting their teachers’ hard work but in case of failure, instantly find scapegoats in them; where the captains of winning teams sing praises of their own leadership overlooking other members’ accomplishments but allege poor team support in the event of losing a match.

Experience shows that when a project in the form of say, a research paper is handed over to a group of seven, one or two may be keenly interested and really serious, a couple more may have a lukewarm attitude in giving their input while others may just enjoy the free ride, yet at the end of the day, all desire equal credit. The idea that we all have to work together does not appear to sit well with us although the reality is that success can only be achieved where every person in a team works the given part with complete dedication and sincerity of purpose and/or continues with an initiative started earlier to attain completion instead of wasting efforts and even cost.  

Pakistan is one of those few countries that is blessed with infinite number of natural resources but unfortunately the nation has become totally directionless, thanks to successive civil/military governments having a thought-process that is inward-looking, more focused on taking credits for themselves to perpetuate their rules and undermine the efforts of their rivals regardless of the negative effects on the multitude of people that comprise the world’s fifth largest population. During these political roller coaster years one after the other, the only thing that has sustained is the game of musical chairs with the participants pushing and shoving each other to grab the seat of power. While those who matter, are totally engrossed in these games, it is hardly of any consequence if the natural resources are not being beneficially explored, if law and order situation is out of control, if the parliaments are least interested in legislation, if the executive is exploiting the needs of the people, if judiciary is failing to provide instant justice, if the economy has reached a critical point, if the people are suffering at the hands of the highest rate of inflation ever recorded; and if the country’s position internationally is dwindling.

This mumble jumble of complaints knows no end and given a chance, everyone can go on endlessly about these issues. We love to talk about democracy and democratic values but we are also the victims of a system that has never allowed democracy to flourish in the true sense of the word. Benazir Bhutto, eleventh prime minister of Pakistan and the first elected female to head a Muslim state had great confidence in democracy because she believed: “Pakistan’s future viability, stability and security lie in empowering its people and building political institutions. My goal is to prove that the fundamental battle for the hearts and minds of a generation can be accomplished only under democracy”.

Whether her optimism did materialize is obvious by her short stints—1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996—when she was prevented from completing her terms in office on account of different allegations. So much for democracy! Nevertheless, her faith did not wane for she said: “I found that a whole series of people opposed me simply on the grounds that I was a woman. The clerics took to the mosque saying that Pakistan had thrown itself outside the Muslim world and the Muslim ummah by voting for a woman, that a woman had usurped a man’s place in the Islamic society”. Her assassination on December 27, 2007 proved the last nail in the coffin of her ideals.

This leads to another thought process that is affront to the idea of women being in charge of their household, what to talk of a country or even a company. This mistrust in female capabilities has led to such strong reactions that besides giving rise to many feminist movements, at times it has forced women to discard their inherent maternal characteristic to adorn the mask of a he-man to establish that they are worthy of high positions. According to Josie Glausiusz the fear of appearing weak affects women so that when they are in power they tend to emulate men overturning the idea that they would be more peace-loving but the sample size is very small so no real conclusion can be drawn. As perceived by Steven Pinker, Harvard University psychologist perhaps if world leaders were females then the Earth could have been a more humane place.

Changing the course of one’s thought process is not easy at all but it becomes necessitated when matters get unmanageable. In order to make Pakistan prosperous and progressive, we must work towards a more co-ordinated and co-operative polity, learn to act as a team setting aside false egos, head for more inclusivity of females in all walks of life and aim at establishing peace across the country in particular and the world in general.


The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), member Advisory Board and Senior Visiting Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE)

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