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Pakistan in 2008: My Wish List

Posted on January 1, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Society
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Adil Najam

I have written too many depressing posts recently. I want to make this one different. Actually, I want you to help me write this post.

I have quickly jotted down my list of wishes for Pakistan for 2008. New Year Wish Lists are supposed to be short and succinct. They need not be entirely achievable – they are, after all, “wish” lists.

Here is my wish list. Seven seems like a nice number for the list. But, please add to it if you wish. And, then, please let us all work together towards turning a few of them into reality!



#1. Human Dignity. Human rights are all about dignity. So is development. Indeed, development is nothing except human dignity. Dignity comes from one’s work and worth being respected by others. Dignity comes from all of the other things I mention in this list. It is the sense that one is a full and equal member of society and also that society recognizes this fact. I wish that no Pakistani – rich or poor, but especially the poor – would even be deprived of human dignity.

#2. Living Livelihoods and Wellbeing. Economic growth, bullish stock markets, tall skyscrapers, booming highways are impressive things. But what I wish for is decent livelihoods for all Pakistanis. Livelihoods that give them the material resources that can create a decent quality of life. Livelihoods that afford them the human development and well-being that should be everyone’s right.

#3. Peace. World peace will be nice too and I do pray for peace everywhere and for everyone. But let us start at least with peace within our hearts and within our society. An end to the culture of anger and the politics of violence that has beset us.

#4. Tolerance. I wish that each one of us will be secure enough in who we are that we would not feel threatened by those who are different. I wish that we will have enough confidence in our beliefs, our identities, our values that we will neither be threatened by nor will we threaten the beliefs, identities and values of those who differ from us.

#5. Justice. The root of my name, Adil, is ‘Adl’ (meaning justice). I take my name seriously. I take justice even more seriously. You cannot have a good society until you have a society that is ‘just’ in every dimension of that word. I wish 2008 will see the restoration of the Judiciary, but I wish for deeper manifestations of economic and social justice too. Ours was not a very just society even when these judges were in office and it will take much more than their restoration to achieve a just society. But their restoration is a necessary first step we must take.

#6. Democracy. Democracy is a very simple concept. It is the proposition that if any decision is going to effect me then I have the right to effect how that decision is made and by whom. Free and fair elections do not give you democracy by itself. But while elections are not a sufficient condition for democracy, they are usually a necessary condition. So, I wish for free and fair elections and an end to military rule. Equally important is an institutionalized respect for the Constitution. So, I wish for the restoration of the Constitution – ideally to its original 1973 content. Democracy cannot come without the freedom of speech and information. So, I wish for the unshackling of the media.

#7. Jurat-i-Tehkik. When Faiz Ahmed Faiz raised his hands in prayer one of the things he asked for was “Jurat-i-Tehkik.” A literal translation would be something like “to dare to research.” I understand the intent to be the search for knowledge. To dare to know – to find – that which we do not know. To dare to find out that which might threaten the things which we think we know. My final wish is for this quest of knowledge, even if it overturns the dogmas that imprison our intellect. Without Jurat-i-Tehkik we can never truly progress; all we can do is to slip back to the recesses of the imagined glories of the past.

(Note: The links provided above are notional and not literal; they link to posts that are generally related to the issue highlight, but may not be direct discussions on the same).

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