KARACHI: Panelists at a seminar titled ‘A crisis of State and Society’ called for social engineering to develop the sense of common identity in the Pakistani society. This was essential because of the peculiarity of the creation of the country, wherein the State was formed before the society.
In his welcome remarks, founder Chairman of the Helpline Trust said that since the creation of Pakistan, the country had stumbled from one crisis to another and in the process, had lost the Quaid’ vision, and had gained the reputation as a most dangerous country and a breeding ground for terrorists and extremists. “The only way to stop anarchy from taking over the country is to improve the quality of life of the citizens and advocate good governance through the enforcement of the rule of law, accountability and adherence to a code of conduct in government and society.”
In his keynote address, former minister of Information, Javed Jabbar, said that the society shapes the State and is like a parent. Only after it is formed can it be analyzed whether it is to perform its minimal function of providing the basics like territorial integrity, law and order, macroeconomic management, and public good services. “There are also states that form the intermediate functions, and other than the above, focus on education, environment, and protection of the poor, or go beyond that and are activists in the field of defining relations with other States, or undertake difficult measures like redistribution of wealth.”
He said: “As far as Pakistan is concerned, there were different nationalities that came together to form the state, which preceded the creation of a Pakistani society. In 1971, it received the first major shock, and had to start the process of rebuilding anew. It is in this context that the current problems need to be viewed and tackled. Pakistan requires leadership, which has to grow organically to come to terms with the systemic crisis. It has the capacity to do so as despite the structural weaknesses, there were many shining examples of homegrown excellence.”
He cited the example of NADRA, the burgeoning IT and telecom sector, the rapidly growing Fast Moving Consumer Goods market, and said that scaling up of the social reform movement was essential to deal with the present crisis, and this was very possible. In the panel discussion moderated by Afia Salam, columnists Ghazi Salahuddin, Mahmood Sham, International Relations expert, Dr. Huma Baqai, and defense analyst, Dr. Abid Rao pointed to the lack of rational debate as a contributing factor in the crisis of identity within the society.
Ghazi mentioned David Brooks’ article in which he mentions that greatest threat to world peace to be the sectarian violence among Muslims, which was being as a proxy war between forces of Saudi Arabia and Iran in Pakistan. Giving the example of the genocide experienced by Rwanda, he expressed the hope that Pakistan too would be able to move towards peace by dealing with such forces instead of appeasing such forces.
Dr Abid Rao traced the rise of extremist forces like the Taliban through periods of Islamic history, and said they were only overcome through forcefully crushing their might. Mahmood Sham, while contextualizing the terrible incident of the church bombing in Peshawar said that despite the increasing religious extremism, the religious parties have never found favor during elections so have decided to act as a pressure group. The problem has been the policy of appeasement by the secular parties.
Taking this a step further, Dr. Huma Baqai was very categorical in her assertion that the policy of appeasement or even talking to elements that do not recognize the writ of the State was in violation of article 246 of the Constitution. Giving the example of Beirut in the ’70s and linking it with the present turmoil in Karachi, she said that the changing demographic trends will bring their own new dynamics which may fan further ethnic insecurities. Members of the audience also urged the revamping of the education system and enforcement of the writ of the State to reverse the current crisis.