Roaming in circles



August 3, 2022

There is hardly any doubt that Pakistan needs radical socio-economic overhaul but what is happening instead is the application of dose after dose of tried-and-tested formulae that have lost their meaning and relevance. The ongoing fracas between the political parties and the apex judiciary of the country yet again brings to fore the fact that Pakistan is farthest away from getting a rationalistic and consensual solution to its myriad problems. It is pointless trying to adhere to the old logic as it has proved futile in the past and is not the answer to the current problems and provide no answer to the intricacies of Pakistan’s social matrix. One thing is crystal clear and that is that myriad forces of social change are active in society making it very obvious that the ongoing process of transformation is generating more frustration and less positive energy.
Despite hurdles imposed by the arbitrary forces the change remains pulsating and constant currently causing virtual unraveling of the Pakistani social fabric. The people have lost faith in the ability of the state to improve their lot and now gradually the public misgivings are directed towards the society as a whole and this is certainly an incendiary mix. The political contests going on in the country have witnessed scenes that portray a social milieu fiercely indignant and unwilling to listen to the traditional sloganeering that proved so effective in the past. The moral authority of the governance system is badly mauled and faces multiple challenges. It appears no more possible to befool people for any length of time and the times demand that all cards are openly laid on the table for people to decide which way the polity goes in future. It should be borne in mind that there is no shortcut to change and it cannot be satiated with interim measures.
It cannot be ruled out that the urge to change has existed in Pakistani system but unfortunately it was and is still predominantly guided by partisan political maneuvering paving way for exercising more power by any group that gained supremacy. For the common man the only allowance for change that was given was largely linked to bringing relief but not to alter his socio-economic perception aimed at empowering him and giving him the wherewithal to develop as a cogent social matrix. The most crucial casualty was and is the social transformation that actually is the bedrock of social harmony and economic development.
There is hardly any doubt that politics is an integral part of social change and it is only through this process that a meaningful societal improvement could be brought about. The main socio-economic issues pertain to the production and distribution of resources and it is quite obvious that all formal and informal political stakeholders try to obtain necessary clout to make their position felt and accordingly acknowledged. While such process is inherently fair and allowed yet it requires a moral legitimacy that apparently appears unattainable and most stakeholders feel it easy to ignore it. The moral legitimacy requires widespread approval of the actions of all elements of the social structure and that is where the political parties come in as they become the vehicle for obtaining such approval.
There is an ongoing debate about whether the process of social change could be attained without a political process and that is precisely what the holders of arbitrary authority tend to believe in Pakistan. Pakistan is currently undergoing diverse processes of change having different connotations in terms of pace and having a positive or negative impact. It is more than evident that modes of production are changing with services sector gaining in ascendance on the expense of the agricultural sector. The socio-economic change is also hampered by the stagnant industrial base with the traditional favourite of the arbitrary forces, real estate, virtually going out of reach of even the middle classes let alone the common man. It must be borne in mind that a sense of possessing a home provides tremendous sense of social security and a sense of development in a society where the state has failed to properly utilise human and physical capital.
The notion may not be misconstrued if comparison is drawn with the Western world that was made aware of social consciousness centuries ago by the philosophers and their good fortune was that they were listened to and their advice heeded to. Such philosophers went through the rigours of the hold and grip of arbitrary landed classes but kept on venturing to awaken social consciousness. To their credit the rational segments of the polity came to the assistance of philosophers and convincingly followed what they taught, creating awareness that catapulted the western world towards superior goals of social amiability and harmony. It was essentially the desire to change for the better that played decisive role in improving the social and economic lot of the people. TW


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