Pakistan is in the throes of social change, and true to the first part of such transformation, Change in Pakistani society is unraveling. Unraveling process considered a regular occurrence although Pakistani experience is more nerve-wracking and complicated. Pakistani social perceptions are undergoing some fundamental alterations particularly in respect of rights and obligations. Another aspect is the slowly emerging questions about the remit of governance and role different stakeholders play in it. Then there is a growing consciousness about what is right and wrong in societal context and how exactly such issues are to be addressed. Such changes are now palpable and their existence cannot be denied for any length of time now. This change is diametrically opposite to the hitherto held belief that considered using political manoeuvring as just another method of exercising power disproportionately.
It may be appropriate to mention that though for the common man change is largely linked to bringing relief and adding some meaning to life yet change cannot be manufactured and must come through the natural processes of social transformation. It is acknowledged widely that politics is an integral part of social change and spurs class conflict where the distribution of resources is concerned. All formal and informal political actors fight for political clout that is mainly structured around economic resources. It is, however, also recognised that to claim their fair share of resources, political stakeholders have not only to win moral legitimacy but must also influence the majority in support of their needs. Nonetheless, power politics cannot stop the ongoing flow or processes of social change.
As an essential prerequisite Pakistan is finding that the traditional modes of production are changing and dependence on the services sector is gradually increasing revealing the regression of the agricultural sector and the stagnant industrial base of the country. Economists have a better understanding of the economy and wealth distribution but there are also other factors at play which may slow down the economics-triggered change in society. Pakistan has a reasonably large diaspora in Europe, North America and other parts of the developed world that has contributed towards changing the worldview of the middle classes. Irrespective of how good or bad this worldview may be, it is showing itself as a major stakeholder in the power politics of the country.
Political movements also provoke social change. The political parties have a poor relationship with rights movements, and this deficiency makes them subservient to the establishment. Rights movements play a role in promoting greater political and social awareness in society, but the process is difficult and slow. Religion is a powerful element in Pakistan and religious institutions benefit from social upheavals in society. The state has outsourced a major chunk of education to religious institutions but they are converting human resource into dependents, rather than pushing them to drive the engine of economic well-being. Religious institutions thrive on sectarian, religious and political differences with their economic interests having the proclivity to clash with the element of cohesion in society.
One thing is quite clear: the ongoing process of transformation is generating more frustration and less positive energy. The previous political dispensation had created tremendous confusion within the polity as it heavily concentrated on dissemination of information tools and plenty of convoluted ideas have become common currency and are misguiding the people. It is now a common concern in the country that the information war is eroding the gains obtained through the resurgence of social consciousness. In actual fact the so-called media war has largely garbled public consciousness and keeping in view that the state sources are heavily tilted in favour of the arbitrary stakeholders the chances are that their narrative may have a powerful impact though it would prove ultimately overpowering is quite doubtful.
The changes are constant and also caused temporary and permanent internal shifts but the hopeful aspect is that many wider vistas have been opened providing the people an opportunity to interact with the globe more frequently even if for a limited time it triggers social changes. The current situation has given rise to some changes in the values of both the middle class and the lower middle class besides imbuing them with a greater flexibility of attitude. Technology and gadgetry are further escalating the process of social change although fast communication has its merits and demerits. It has increased the flow of information but to such an extent that minds, at times, cannot process it quickly enough. It is rather a disconcerting fact that cyber ghettos and armies have captured virtual spaces and set their own narrow ideological, ethnic and political boundaries. It is widely expected that the process of social change is difficult to muzzle once it is unleashed and that despite setbacks it is bound to change what was considered unchangeable a few years before. TW