By Dr. Khalil Ahmad
We are not a normal nation and live down inside the proverbial well made of our own presumptions. Thus we are a perfect subject matter for psychologists to study. In addition, we are never ready to admit that, instead declare others abnormal. That makes us own a stinted mindset in our heads. What’s wrong with this mindset is that it never allows us to live normally, to have introspection, to see ourselves in a critical mirror, to identify our mistakes, to understand our inconsistencies, to grant others the same rights and freedoms that only we rightfully claim to possess and enjoy. It is this mindset that does not let us come out of our obsession of a charismatic nation (for whom things will happen on their own without any effort), and finally it is this mindset that never permits us to move ahead and improve ourselves.
Forget the present crisis and the moral bankruptcy which is more than self-evident; let’s have a look at some crucial evidences. It was in 1870 that Sir Syed Ahmad Khan complained: “When in the courts of Hindustan Hindus come to give evidence, the judge even though he be a Muslim, has to think about the truthfulness of his evidence, but when comes a Muslim witness and he tells his name and the judge is almost certain that he will be lying and giving a false evidence until and unless by some other manner his truthfulness establishes. Muslim merchandise sellers as compared to other nations lie a lot, and cheat. They would never reveal the original price of an item and remain intent upon charging as much price from the buyer as is possible.”
Furthermore, in 1895 Sir Syed again resents: “For people to take part in trade depends on many a factor. Most important of them is that they are totally honest, and with all their truthfulness wholly dedicated to the flourishing and expansion of this factory of trade. My friends will pardon me if I say that Muslims are rarely endowed with this quality.”
And if not Sir Syed as we do not honor him the way it is due to him, here is Sir Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal, our hold-all sort of thinker/philosopher. In his Stray Reflections, A Note-Book, he writes and it is in the year 1914: “Of all the Muslim communities of the world they (‘Musalmans of India’) are probably the meanest in point of character.”
Additionally, one most recent evidence: Dr. Israr Ahmad of Quran Academy, Lahore, repined in 1999, “On this earth the most hypocritical nation is Pakistani.”
What greater evidence is required to convince us that we need to change this mindset if we want to go ahead and make progress in any field of life! As I have written elsewhere the first pre-requisite for this process to begin is to create an environment where the existing set of laws and rules are able to be strictly implemented without any let or hindrance, absolutely with a blind eye.
Also, it is crucially necessary that a process of accountability be set in motion with retrospective effect and for this purpose an independent commission consisting of judges and prominent intellectual figures of impeccable integrity, with no political affiliation, and with proven commitment to the constitution of Pakistan be set up. Its mandate should not be less than investigating the constitutional and financial irregularities since the date the constitution of 1973 came into force and recommending trial in the courts for due punishment. This point in time may be August 14, 1947, but then a frame of reference will be needed for the inquiry commission to help with. Not only will that help sift the lawless and corrupt elements from the life of Pakistanis but discourage future adventurers also. That’s a long-standing demand too.
Last but not least, to break the iron-shell of this mindset, academic and intellectual freedom at any cost be ensured to each and everyone. That again brings us back to the strict enforcement of fundamental rights secured in the constitution. These rights especially freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly need to be promoted and fully protected. That will let a hundred flowers blossom and search for truth to take its due course without any fear of persecution and stopping on this or that pretext by this or that lobby claiming to be the sole possessor of Pakistan and its ideology. This may put us on a track leading to a new Pakistan with an open, tolerant and absorbing mind the essential preconditions for change and improvement in our society.
The writer is founder/head of the Alternate Solutions Institute.