We are celebrating 14th August as our independence day once more. I as a Pakistani, propose fourteen SHOULDS on this occasion. These SHOULDS, I promise can change the destiny of our country but this requires paradigmatic changes in our national priorities. Here goes the list:
1. Education should be at the top of our priority list with at least 20 percent of our annual budget spent on providing quality education to the people of Pakistan.
2. As a sage once said, 'If you want to see the condition of a nation, see the condition of the teacher'. So teachers should be the most valued (in the real sense of the word) people in the country.
3. Our hospitals should be our second principal priority after education.
4. We should make every effort to establish complete peace with our neighbouring countries including our arch-rival India. In this regard we can learn from European countries such Germany, France, and the UK.
5. We should devote ourselves to spreading a network of playgrounds in each and every city and town and village of our country.
6. There should be a network of libraries in each and every one of our cities and towns with latest books, magazines, journals available, and with computers and internet facilities
7. There should be immediate and complete ban on pressure horns on roads and streets and gradually the ban should come down to any kind of horns, of course people need to be educated through electronic and print media against indiscriminate use of horns
8. There should be a centrally controlled system of mosques in every city and town. The Imams should be properly educated, trained, should be at least secondary school graduates and should be recruited by the local administrative authority. They should be paid adequately for their services with the help and cooperation of the local population. The Friday sermons and teaching of these Imams should be monitored closely and they should be trained and educated to present the peaceful, inclusive, humanitarian face of religion to the people .This will guard against the tendency of turning religion into a sectarianism, extremism and the resultant violence.
9. Democracy should be embraced, nurtured and practiced in the true sense of the word and for that to happen efforts should be made to take the power centre out of the feudal class and to bring it down to the reach of the common people. The first step in this regard is for political parties to themselves become truly democratic and shun hereditary and dictatorial practices prevalent inside their ranks. Our armed forces once and for all decide not to ever interfere in our political system and confine itself to it constitutionally rightful place: that of the guardian of our (primarily) external security and (if need be) the internal security. Let soldiers be soldiers and not political leaders. Let us for the coming thirty years, at least, try democracy in its true sense and then decide which way to go. Let our democratic system correct its own course without anymore interference. Let us show to the world that we can be truly professional in our respective fields, whichever that might be, as soldiers, military officers, teachers, doctors, politicians, lawyers, judges, engineers, bankers, religious leaders, farmers, labourers, craftsmen, technicians, journalists or people from any other profession.
10. A Pakistani nationalism based on an international, humanitarian philosophy should be nurtured through a nationwide system of inclusive education. The purpose should be to broaden the horizons of the Pakistani youth to feel a part of the rest of the world instead of looking at every other nation as an enemy out to destroy our dear country. For this the concept of 'positive national ego’, should be promoted. This will help the Pakistani youth feeling a responsible part of the rest of the world, shouldering the burden of the entire humanity instead of asking others to always extend a helping hand to our sinking ship.
11. Strength in terms of economic and social development should be our primary goal driving our national policies and not just military might and our capability for destruction. Live and let live should be our motive from now onwards if we really want to continue to exist and flourish in the comity of nations in the twenty first century.
12. Rigorous measures should be taken to control our dangerously growing population, which is already beyond our means. Poverty, illiteracy, ignorance and a false understanding of religion are primary source of this menace. The role of religious leaders is of special importance in this regard. A majority of our rural population devotedly listen to and follow the sermons of our Imams who unfortunately actively encourage people to produce more children and discourage them from population control which they think is an act against the will of God. This perception must be changed and religious leaders must be educated, trained, made aware and later on used as a task force to create awareness among our people against uncontrolled population growth.
13. An important indicator of the degree of civilization of a society is the way women are treated in it. Women emancipation through a process of education and awareness among the masses should be one of our top priorities. Pakistani women are exemplary in their devotion to their families and the welfare of those around them and this extraordinary source of our strength must be taped by giving them their due place in the social, economic and political spheres of our national life. Again the role of religious leaders is of primary importance in this regard, who unfortunately think of women as nothing more than a tool of domestic utility . These religious leaders use their enormous clout as opinion makers against the economic and social freedom and autonomy of our women. This trend needs to be changed and women be brought into our national life as equal partners and stakeholders.
14. We should, as a nation make it a core principle of our national ethos, that a society cannot live for long in the presence of injustice and endemic corruption. It should, therefore, be one of top-most priorities to clean up corruption in our legal, administrative and political system, to have an independent, well-paid judiciary and an excellent, efficient and corruption-free police force.
P.S: Does it look like a loony dream? Well, may be. But then many dreams come true.