65 years, an age of maturity
By Naeem Tahir
18 August , 2012
Do we realise that love, and not fear, is the core of the message of Islam? Do we project religion as a system of graces, forgiveness, justice and human dignity?
A friend received a message for August 14, which said, “Happy Independence Day, it is a year of maturity!’The message was sent by a very young person. His maturity of thought impressed me.
Yes, now it is the 65th year of independence. It is time for some maturity in thinking. The generation in charge of the affairs in all fields is now of post-independence birth. People in the age bracket of 40-60 are the ones in the mainstream national activity. Whether in the private or government sector, the major portion of activity is in the hands of this age group. Some influence is exerted by the higher age persons, and by the youth. However, the middle age group has to carry the burden of managing national activity, including law and order, commerce, politics, international relations, culture, food, development, etc. In other words, almost all responsibility of shaping the country and its future is now in the hands of those who were born, bred and educated after 1947, including the youth of today.
One would like to presume that this generation is aware of the national history, of the challenges and of the opportunities. The call for maturity is relevant particularly for this age group of decision makers and implementers. They are expected not to just drift along but in fact make conscious efforts, at every stage, to shape the nation and the country. Other age groups are not absolved of the responsibility; they also need to make contributions but indeed most of the responsibility rest with the mainstream decision makers. In every country, this age group is the engine of change and progress, moving the nation to its destination. This group needs to develop consensus on the minimum national goals to be achieved.
What are the specific areas that need to be given thought?
In a country claiming belief in a ‘democratic system’, the first thought needs to be given to the democratic system itself. Does our system reflect a true and appropriate spirit of democracy suitable to our genre? One major flaw is that our system has little room for people of high intellect, education, and track record or expertise. Our system is based on a popular vote and ‘winner takes all’ method. The system has repeatedly failed to deliver. Still, it is romanticised as ‘democracy’ and praised. Many countries have democracies as a system for political power but almost all successful nations have modified it to their needs. In our system, there is little room for the outstanding talent to get into the National Assembly where laws are made. The few protected seats in the Senate mean very little. Popularity is the main base to enter the august house of lawmakers. The result is what we see: ineffective laws and little implementation or respect for the process. Murderers, terrorists, the corrupt and the oppressive roam about free and force their own laws on the poor and weak. We must find a way to induct people of integrity, sincerity, character and capability to dominate the institution of law making. This is perhaps the most important matter to resolve for our core group of 40-60 years of age. I repeat, other adults are not absolved of the responsibility and must join in the contribution.
What are our national aspirations?
Beyond the struggle of making both ends meet, serious thinking and effort is required to identify larger goals. Do we need to keep on drifting in several directions that the religious mafia wants us to follow? Not meaning to hurt anyone’s feelings, but how many of us have made a serious effort to understand the ‘message’ and its practical manifestations as exemplified by the Prophet (PBUH)? Do we realise that love, and not fear and punishment, is the core of the message of Islam? Do we project religion as a system of graces, forgiveness, justice and human dignity? I am afraid not, and the failure to do so damages the name of the religion as well as the nation associated with it. It is again a responsibility we need to carry out. Blind following and aggression is not the spirit of Islam. This country is often associated with the principles of Islam, therefore we must understand its spirit and try to promote it the way our Prophet (PBUH) conducted himself.
There are several other issues that our core leadership group needs to think about. But the one that needs to be mentioned here is the economy. Our economy is hurt by shortsighted decisions prompted by political exigencies. We did not make Kalabagh Dam because people were persuaded against it. The irritants should have been removed and today, the whole nation would have been better off in terms of supply of electricity and control of floods. Our trading partnerships with China and India need to be reviewed as these are the fastest growing economies and our trade relations could be beneficial. Regional relations with all geographical neighbours as well as within the provincial entities must be considered with an effort to bring betterment for all and a reduction of conflicts.
Finally, we need to assert our cultural identity and heritage. Pakistan has an unmatched history and pre-history. We are the recipients of humanity’s first civilisation and its character of peace, modesty, hospitality and creativity.
To sum up: Pakistan came into being on the 27th of Ramazan, which happened to be the midnight between the 14th and 15th of August. The 27th of Ramazan is close again to August 14 this year. Let us consider this as an indication to do some serious thinking. Sober decisions and their implementations will shape Pakistan’s future. Can we correct the course of events to make a better country and a respected nation? The onus is on all of us, particularly the core age group. A resolution to do so will be an appropriate Eid gift for all.
The writer is a former DG Pakistan National Council of the Arts, Secretary Arts Council Alhamra, COO of ICTV US, Chairperson Fruit Processing Industries, Chairperson Export Promotion Committee, head of several business delegations to European countries, specialist in arts management and cultural diplomacy. He is an expert callishtenist, dramatist, researcher, and the author of 8,000 years of the People of Indus Valley. Presently, he is the Central Vice- President APML and General Secretary, Punjab APML