What’s Going Right in Pakistan

Posted on June 10, 2011
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Economy & Development, Media Matters, Music, Society
Total Views: 1852723

Adil Najam

There is muchway too much – that is going terribly wrong in Pakistan. But not all is lost. Not just yet.

One must never deny that which is going wrong. Indeed, to accept and acknowledge it is itself the first step towards finding ways to reverse the wrong. But nor should one forget that which may be going right. So, what do you think are things that are going right in Pakistan? (Please, keep your cynicism to yourself – it is neither funny nor useful).

Let me give you a very preliminary and a very arbitrary list of five. These are not in order of priority, nor indeed are they the most important five. They are just five things that came quickly to mind. Trivial as they may sound to some, what is important is that each is a sign of societal strength, not of the state’s weakness. Each, therefore, is a sign of hope.

#1. Music. No, I am not joking. Pakistani music is going through an age of amazing innovation and a passionate embrace of all that is socially meaningful. But that, in fact, is not why I list it here. To me the richness of Pakistan’s music scene – here, here, here, here, here, here and everywhere – signifies that innovation is alive and kicking, in fact, thriving. The innovative spirit embedded in today’s music is what is going so very right in Pakistan, and so very worth celebrating.

#2. Media. We at ATP have bashed the media when it over-steps, over-does and over-reaches as anyone else. We believe that is deserved because there is much to be rightly bashed. But there is much more that deserves to be celebrated. Overall, and despite all that needs to be improved, media independence in Pakistan has been a force for the good. It has also often been a force of courage. The media has not just found its voice, it has given voice to society – the good as well as the bad, but a voice that neither relents nor can be silenced any more.

#3. Youth. That Pakistan is a youthful country is a legitimate demographic concern but also the most powerful potential for societal change in Pakistan. But that is a game of numbers and speculation. What is going right with the youth in Pakistan is not that there are so many of them. It is that so many of them are so very active and engaged in the redefinition of all sorts of social contracts. This is not an unconcerned and unconnected youth. This is a youth that is alive with passion and activism. That passion and activism may sometimes come in flavors we do not like, but this is not an indifferent youth. This is a youth that will make a difference.

#4. Resilience. It is sad that the resilience of this people has been tested as often and in as many ways as it has. At one level, the people of this country have no option but to be resilient. But beyond the resilience for survival is the resilience from an indigenous entrepreneurship. Earthquakes. IDPs. Floods. Pakistanis have lived through these not only with a spirit of philanthropy, but with a spirit of entrepreneurship. It is resilience as an expression of the entrepreneurship of survival that is going right. If only we could find a way to convert entrepreneurship for survival into entrepreneurship for growth.

#5. Responsibility. This is the one I will probably get flak for. But if I am right on this then this may be the most important. The fact that we now hear and read so much about not taking enough responsibility for our own actions instead of forever seeking ‘outside’ hands and conspiracies is itself a sign that times have changed. When the pathology of denial was at its peak, no one would dare talk about that pathology. We have not yet fully turned the corner and there are too many who are too eager to divert, deflect and deny. But the tenor of the national conversation today is not a conversation of denial, but one of taking responsibility. It is an uncomfortable conversation for exactly that reason. And for the very same reason, it is also a much more relevant and important conversation for all of our futures. It is a conversation that is, indeed, going right.

My list is longer. My faith in this society and this people is stronger. Even as there is so much around us that is cause for despair, there is also that which must be a cause for hope. Now, you tell us, please, what you think is going right in Pakistan?

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66 responses to “What’s Going Right in Pakistan”

  1. Farhan_fida says:

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  2. imran says:

    Such a nice post.
    Thanks for sharing such things

  3. Sadiq ali says:

    Mr adil I dont agree that the youth is going in the right direction, the world is changing I do agree Pakistan is a young country witb more you citizens then rest of the world but at the same time it’s educational system is still not in the right direction, the government don’t have any programs to give it’s new generation skills the urban class educate them self at universities or go overseas but what about the majority of the poor class? who’s going to think about them. The world is in the corner of a new technological wave where AI, autonums vehicles, nano technology, quantum computing and so on these technologies will be slashing human labor faster then anyone thinks but I bet you Pakistans political class dont give a damn about it nor the young peoples of Pakistan. The TV channels are flooded with political shows, these courpt politicians are feeding them and teaching them to worhsip the politicians through television or internet so the generation don’t think about anything else when was the last time saw thousand of people’s came out on the streets for the clean water or proper health care or may be education but If i were to ask you that when they came out to eat a plate of biryani or qeemay walay naan at some political jalsa for ppp, pmnl or pti you know the answer right away. So I seriously doubt it.

  4. Hameed Shah says:

    I think that Youth is the biggest factor that is going to decide the future of our country. Even media campaigns are emphasizing this as seen by this ad being recently aired on TV channels. http://youtu.be/hkk4ibAsOFo

  5. Hanif says:

    Hmm nice post. .

    there is a lot that is going right in Pakistan..

    i want Imran Khan to be next president … :)

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