Pakistan first By Masood Sharif Khan Khattak Dated Tuesday, February 03, 2009
I recall the years of the 1970s and '80s that I spent in the deserts of Sindh and the Rann of Kutch, in the rugged mountains of Balochistan and Azad Kashmir, in the valleys of Chitral and other places in NWFP with the wonderful officers and men of the Pakistani Army. I recall marching through the beautiful plains of Punjab, with mothers calling us "puttar" (son) and reciting a prayer for us.
Today the soldiers of Pakistan seek their own security even within the cantonments. Pakistanis are at war with each other. What we see happening in Pakistan, in every sector of national life, is indicative of impending disasters, and time to retrieve the situation is quickly running out.
Selfishness has overtaken us while Pakistan and our nationhood have receded to the darkest corners of our hearts. Surely, something is drastically wrong.
The current and previous generations of Pakistanis are responsible for Pakistan's present dilemma. We should now let the younger generation that is far more motivated and less infected by the ills of societal degeneration replace the older generation on a fast track. The younger generation's youth, vibrancy, academic qualifications and exuberance will stand Pakistan in good stead.
Pakistan has to be put together again, and every Pakistani needs to be put to work. It has to be ensured that every square inch of our land is irrigated and ploughed and not a drop of water is allowed to pass into the sea. Pakistani investors must now be allowed to negotiate with foreign enterprises and invest freely within the country without dozens of corrupt governmental organisations being required to give them no-objection certificates. The rapid growth of the industrial sector must be facilitated. Foreign investment will automatically follow. Taxes and policies must be liberalised so that the search for energy gets intensified. The strangulating grip of the bureaucracy must be ended for the investors. The national data base should be made foolproof in nearly every sphere of national life. Technology must be resorted to extensively. Countries in the Middle East have to import agricultural and farm items from all over the world. Therefore, we must encourage them to come and invest in our agricultural lands, on dams and other spheres of the agricultural sector in return for a guaranteed supply of agricultural produce. The list can go on endlessly.
An unconventional and honest effort is now warranted if we do actually want to get out of the quagmire. These are days when Pakistan calls upon its sons and daughters with exceptional qualities like courage, foresight, sacrifice and willingness to change the status quo to come forward and save Pakistan. Our potential is limitless and Pakistan beckons its younger generation to step forward and get counted.
On another plane peace must be brought about in the NWFP immediately. The area must be developed, starting tomorrow, using the Army and other elements to provide security to the development projects rather than fighting intense battles and the situation will be retrieved slowly but surely. Waiting for peace through fighting will prove fatal. Being a Pakistani and a Pakhtun my heart goes out to those poor souls in the NWFP who are getting a battering from both sides. It must stop immediately.
Pakistan must become a peaceful heaven on earth with a booming tourist industry. Pakistan must ensure peace within its borders and must also have a simple foreign policy that spells out clearly that "while Pakistan will not tolerate interference it will also not interfere in the affairs of any other state." Pakistan is strong enough to back that kind of an independent foreign policy so that Pakistan can start looking inward and begin to stand for itself. Pakistan requires its own undivided attention or else it will be relegated to the dustbins of history as a disjointed nation that fell apart because it did not stand for itself. Let us not blame others for what may happen to us in the foreseeable future if we refuse to act as a united and responsible nation now.
The writer is a former director general of the Intelligence Bureau and former vice-president of the PPP Parliamentarians. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org