Islamic Republic of Pakistan has a unique society, perhaps the most interesting social setup for sociologists to study. The reason for it being so special is the fact that Pakistani society is a combination of various sub cultures and ethnicities. It started from world’s oldest civilization, the Indus Valley. It saw invasions from Aryans and Greek. The Persian and Pukhtoon Muslims attacked from the west one after another on the fertile lands of Punjab and Sindh. The Europeans came from thousands of miles away and setup colonies here. Due to all this Pakistani culture has many sub-cultures, colors of various races and languages mixed with the flavor of Islamic nationalism and modern democracy. Where all these combinations have made this society more colorful, it has also placed some stains on the fabric of society.
Pakistan, as a nation, is a developing country and consequently she faces a wide array of social problems: educational, economical, political, religious and a number of internal ethnic and linguistic conflicts. Pakistani society, as like every other society, is a collection of people living under certain constraints to aid each other’s life. The society is not just a sum of individuals; it is far more than that. Wherever there is a society there are social issues. Social issues, as defined on Wikipedia1, are “matters which directly or indirectly affect a person or many members of a society and are considered to be problems or controversies related to moral values”.
It is not to say that developed countries don’t have social problems but the fact which matters most in the case of Pakistan is that Pakistan is an economically weak country therefore its social setup, its norms, its culture, its religion and everything else is criticized and seen with a skeptical eye.
Every human has some values either personal or dictated by society. The combination of social and personal values creates ones personality and it is these values that dictate the actions taken by the individuals. Every human, in his heart, wants to be accepted by other people around him. In this lust of acceptance one has to fulfill the social contract. The society decides what to value and what to not. While there are a few societies that value education or bravery; Pakistani society like many other societies, value Power and Wealth. As Long Fellow once said:
“Money is honey, my little sunny
A rich man’s joke is always funny”
It is this lust of power and wealth that leads people to do immoral things. It is this lust, among various other reasons, that make people deviant. Corruption is one such act that enables people to gain power and wealth beyond their rights. Similarly there are a number of illnesses that inflict the Pakistani Society such as:
- Religious and Social Intolerance, Bigotry and Prejudice
- Cast System
- Social Imbalance
- Government System (both lack of appropriate laws and leaders)
- Materialistic Classification
- Ignorance of Human and Cultural Potential
- Humans Right Violations:
- Child Labor
- Child Abuse
- Human Trafficking
- Gender discrimination
Let us briefly describe the extent of social issues and how much damaging these are. There are hundreds of thousands of pages available on the Internet which describes, in detail, almost all of the above listed problems along with statistics known as socioeconomic indicators. Here we present a few of them:
Since 1995, Transparency International has published an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ordering the countries of the world according to “the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians”. The organization defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. Pakistan lists at number 143 out of 178 most corrupt countries. Remember that it is what people perceive and not some actual data. The people of Pakistan perceive their government to be very corrupt. [Wikipedia, childinfo]
History is witness that Corruption has ever been one of the main causes of downfall of nations. It has ever created disappointment among the communities where this evil prevails. The machinery of government gets rusted and it is quite obvious that Corruption decrease respect for law. This evil leads to revolution and military take over.
The literacy rate of Pakistan is also among the lowest in the world. Here the literate person is defined as a person who has age 15 and over and can read and write. Only 49.9% of total population is literate out of which 63% are men and 36% are women. Government of Pakistan spends merely 2.2% of GDP on education where as Government of Malaysia spends 25.2% of their GDP on Education. [Wikipedia]
According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics of Pakistan, 3.3 million out of 40 million children are working in various industries as child labor. The very recent issue of brutal murder of two brothers in Sialkot by a group of people is enough to shed some light on the lawlessness issue. Poverty is on the rise as well where some 22.6% population is living under $1 a day [Wikipedia]
In the period of 1989-2010, 3423 people have lost their lives and 7320 people got badly injured in 2530 sectarian violence incidents. The country has witnessed multiple marshal laws resulting in destabilized economy and separation of a part of country. The list goes on and on but that is really not the point here.
To sum it all up corruption, poverty, material classification, inflation and social imbalance are direct result of lawlessness and lack of government system. Lack of government system affects lawlessness and vice versa. Poverty results in corruption and corruption has direct correlation with lawlessness.
All these social problems are inter-related and mostly depend on each other. Moreover, there are a few problems which are merely symptoms of the real cause. For example: feudalism is a product of the mentality of slavery, whereas, illiteracy is partly due to landlords not allowing education in their areas. Illiteracy is causing people to suffer at the hands of each other and most importantly at the hands of other countries and nations. As it turns out, it is a vicious circle that has not end. It is as complicated as strings tangled with each other with no ends in sight. If we apply force on it will get more tangled. The only way is to apply patience and slowly and gradually find the ends of the string and untangle it.
If we compare today’s society with that of pre-British rule, we’d find many social illnesses today that were almost non-existent. The reason for these illnesses is the fact that the people of this region were under British rule for more than a century. The British were a more developed society at the time they invaded this region. The combination of the master and slave societies as well as politics by the former masters have developed a number of problems such as materialistic classification, feudalism, linguistic and ethnic issues and so on.
Among other social problems, the classification of humans is also mentionable. This classification is a direct result of centuries of British rule in the subcontinent. We might have dealt with the physical slavery but our minds are still enslaved with the classification and the sense of being inferior to others. This inferiority complex leads to dissatisfaction and moral dilemma. The imprisonment of minds continued even after decades of independence. This imprisonment lead to the mind set of superiority and inferiority complex which is still evident in form of feudalism.
Like a medical anomaly in human body and a surgeon who has to deal with it, we need to understand the cause and effect relation of social issues and eliminate the causes therefore eliminating the effects as well. If there is a headache due to high blood pressure, it is wise to control high blood pressure instead of taking medicine for the headache. But first we have to distinguish between the causes and symptoms among social illnesses. The foremost problem that leads to other problems is illiteracy. It is this lacks of knowledge that makes people suffer. It is this lack of knowledge that makes people unable to understand their rights and responsibilities. It is this very illness that makes them ignorant towards their surroundings, the environment, and their rights and responsibilities which ultimately affects them as well as people around them.
If we are to eradicate these evils we need to work hard and smart. Working hard implies dealing with rigor and force and working smart means to tackle one problem at a time starting with the smallest of them for better results. We believe that it is more important to address small issues first and then work towards the extinction of the larger ones.
One thing is for certain. For all the problems that Pakistan is facing, there is no single silver bullet that can solve all the problems. All these problems are inter-related and can be solved with patients and hard work.
The first and foremost thing to do is to enlighten the people or educate the masses. This education must not be of ritualistic nature. We must educate, not only our youth but our grownups as well, in a fashion that not only teaches them how to read and write but also make them competent and united. The education should be of such nature that makes people think and realize the importance of social justice and fair play.
I think it is time for the literate people to recognize their role in the development of society. We should form circles of education where we can teach people around us. These circles could be formed easily with every educated person teaching people in his vicinity. We can also use Electronic and print media to bring about a positive change. This would bring a silent revolution in the country and in the society. As long as people won’t realize their duties towards the state and society, there will be chaos.
Although it is the responsibility of state to provide education to people, I think it is time to think out of the box. The government is mostly run by feudal and feudal can only survive as long as their subjects are illiterate and weak. Therefore they will not allow any scheme that would jeopardize their monopoly over the affairs of state.
Merit must be the number one priority of Pakistani nation because Merit based society is absolutely necessary for better future. Once the problem of illiteracy is dealt with, there will be very few problems left in the society to deal with. Feudalism has a simple solution. The one applied in India by Jawaharlal Nehru. But to apply the same in Pakistan we need to form a stable and functioning government.
Instead of believing in bookish theories, we must do something practical to kill these evils. We will have to make a new government, which should be very much sincere to public. This new government should send those people in administration that can really know and settle the problems of public. Different kinds of department should be established to correct the social issues. Then minds of the people can be changed by moral values. Morality should be an inevitable part of education. Lastly there should be an exemplary punishment of those who are responsible for creating such evils. Political parties, N.G.Os and national media can play very important role to root out this evil. Remember William Golding saying:
“Man produces evil as bee produces honey.”
To conclude we can say that if we want to make progress in our country and to eliminate the evils of our society, it is our duty to act and act smart. Napoleon has said: “Nothing is Impossible”. Let us try to understand what Long Fellow says:
“Lives of all great men remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And, departing, leaving behind us
Foot prints on the sand of time”
This society needs a revolution. The choice is ours whether we want a silent one of a bloody one.