Islamabad Must Reform

Since independence in 1947, Islamabad has been plagued with poverty, illiteracy, foreign interference, political instability and corruption.

islamabad-electionsWhy are Islamabad and New Delhi enemies? Pakistanis need to be trained to think positively about their surroundings. We should learn from American and Canadian friendly relations to improve Indian and Pakistani bilateral ties.

Islamabad cannot genuinely progress with its proxy war politics against India and with its involvement in the so-called US War on terrorism. It has to make a lasting peace with New Delhi and other neighboring countries so that it can use its resources to benefit the nation.

In some ways, Islamabad has more potential to be a developed country than New Delhi. It has the resources, ingenuity and intellectual brainpower yet it seems to regress by the day. India with its billion plus population has a plethora of challenges, yet its focus has been so much more efficient with its 8% economic growth. Perhaps the time has come for Islamabad to learn from the Indian example and formulate a new strategy.

There is a perception among some in the international community that Pakistan is a terrorist nation. The primary reason being an exploitation through the religious leaders and reaction of the military operations both internally as well as externally. China receives $13 billion in foreign investment because of its stable and investor-friendly environment while Islamabad’s violent image in the media has shaken investor confidence and destroyed its tourist industry.

For example, smaller and less influential countries like Romania and the Philippines are receiving much more foreign investments because their leadership understands pragmatic economic and security policies. Islamabad suffers from overpopulation, inflation and unemployment. These deficits in turn create breeding grounds for terrorism and religious fanaticism.

With respect to human rights, I would like to share a profound statement from the Dalai Lama:

“All human beings, whatever their cultural or historical background, suffer when they are intimidated, imprisoned or tortured… We must, therefore, insist on a global consensus, not only on the need to respect human rights worldwide, but also on the definition of these rights… for it is the inherent nature of all human beings to yearn for freedom, equality and dignity, and they have an equal right to achieve that.”

Violence in Pakistan and the Taliban conflict with the government have heightened humanitarian problems. Political and military interests have been prioritized over humanitarian considerations in their offensives against the Taliban, and these issues will likely get worse as people faced with no hope, poverty and unemployment feel they have no alternative. Displacement is also a major problem and humanitarian organizations are failing to address people’s basic needs.

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The Shia genocide in Quetta and the target killing of Shia have tragically become routine in Pakistan. Apart from these horrific crimes which the Muslim world has failed to adequately condemn and prevent, other persecuted minorities in Lahore and Islamabad have sullied Pakistan’s reputation and harmed the country.

When will we say enough is enough and it is time to put Pakistan back on the correct path?

This article has been modified since publication in Sharnoff’s Global Views on March 22, 2013.

Shahid Kazmi is a youth analyst, human rights and youth activist, peace practitioner, volunteer, social worker and blogger from the Pakistani Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Visit his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @shaahidkazmi. Read more articles by Shahid.