Islamabad burns as crowds gather outside the Parliament building in Pakistan. This high security area is called the Red Zone of Islamabad with the Diplomatic Enclave, Supreme Court, President House, Parliament House and many sensitive Government buildings. The workers of two political parties Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) join forces against the ruling party PML-N. To a third person perspective, it is political enmity and nothing more. The brutal and excessive use of force by Punjab police on unarmed civilians and journalists is unprecedented. Watching history unravel itself before our eyes is a sobering experience. I have been witnessing die hard supporters of both sides arguing and counter arguing about the terms and conditions of the negotiations that seem impossible. Neither side is willing to compromise and find a middle ground. I find myself baffled by the unfortunate turn events have taken in the last twenty four hours. Too much blood is being shed and the sanctity of police and army as institutions, Government buildings and civilians has been terribly tainted with violence. To my irrationally simplistic mind, the entire problem and solution seems far more comprehensible than it is.
We have gathered as a nation for a cause. What do I want as a citizen of Pakistan? Would our lives be better if Nawaz Sharif quits the Government and Imran Khan or Tahir ul Qadri come into power? If yes, which one of them will be the Prime Minister and who will take the back seat? Who cares? My question to all these leaders, their followers and the neutral rationalists like myself is simple. What are we looking for? We are seeking a refuge from the myriad of problems plaguing us as a nation, individuals matter the least to us. Let us choose the change we need in our country and dictate that code of ethics to anyone who wishes to come into power. No more bigotry, no more deception, no more nepotism, period. Whoever wants to be in power needs to command that position of respect and prove his worth. No rigged elections or random numbers or power play should affect our opinions about our politicians. If they behave honorably, treat them with respect. If they disrespect our civilians and country, they can take a one way ticket to the moon.
I need clean drinking water and food for each and every civilian in Pakistan. The cost of living has to be made bearable for all not just the rich. A thirsty and hungry nation cannot go an inch beyond basic survival. I demand free basic healthcare for all and education for each and every child in the entire country. The judicial system should be impeccable and speedy justice be delivered at the expense of the state. So sustenance, healthcare, education and justice are the first, second, third and fourth requirements of good governance that should never be compromised. This should be followed by transparency of governance. The assets and finances of all elected officials and their families should be accessible to the general public. No elected official should have the audacity to misuse power or misappropriate funds. And if they do, the penalties must be extraordinary and exemplary. An office clerk should have such blind faith in social justice that he can report a bribe acceptance by his officer. We shall drive a hard bargain for our leaders but it also means that as a nation we must be willing to pay dearly. And the burden of responsibility shall be borne by every civilian. And then investing in the roads, bridges, amenities and technology will make sense to the common man. A starving citizen will be forever blind to the brilliance of building metro buses and bullet trains.
The rich must pay taxes according to their worth and make sure their money gets into good use. The landowners and industrialists must ensure the education, health and wellbeing of their tenants and workers. The poor should not be deprived of their share of responsibility either. Each and every man and woman must work to earn a living. No one should get a free ride. Beggars and criminals must be dealt with iron hands. The state must watch over the rights of women, children, minorities, etc. No man should be allowed to procreate beyond his means. If a man has ten children and cannot feed them, he should be answerable to the law and to the society. Every person must have religious freedom provided he does not force his views on anyone else.
We can start this campaign in our own homes, our work places and then, in the general community. The idea is to have a balanced, satiated society. Terrorists harbor in dark cesspools of poverty, illiteracy and deprivation. Remove these and you lay the foundation of a model society. I can already hear the cynics scoff at this utopian model of Pakistan. But I plead to their common sense. Our dreams have to be a thousand percent perfect. When we aim high, we achieve something even when we fail. I refuse to believe that we cannot achieve this tolerant, fair and peaceful country. I know people from all walks of life competing in innumerable professions in every country in the world. That is a great example of what our nation is made of. We have the choicest brawn and brains among us. What if those of us who are extra blessed by the Omnipotent decide to pass on some of our blessings? My dream is to mentor, educate and feed fifty orphans or less fortunate children in my lifetime. When I die, I hope and pray they all have prosperous families and professions. I will only ask them to return this favor by caring for fifty orphans in their entire life. My question is if it is doable, how many of us will take up this little dream and make the world a better place for our born and unborn children. In the end we are not just citizens of Pakistan but also citizens of the world, and we have to start the charity at home.