The Art of Getting On With It – Citizen Ownership and Politics

Shabbir Paracha writes about the importance of ownership in creating a better, more improved Pakistan.

The elections may have come and gone but the aftermath is of much more importance. At times, what seems to be nothing short of a political rollercoaster, the landscape of Pakistani politics is witnessing some of the biggest changes. And yet. Much of what was, remains as is, as well.

A lot of the purana remains in this naya.

The controversies have piled on. From the role of the establishment in the actual elections, and the extent of said role, to the court proceedings in the Sharif case. From the traffic incident involving the ex-husband of bibi Bushra, to the ground work laid regarding reaching out to a certain IMF. Or indeed, Atif Mian’s instatement and subsequent removal from the economic advisory council. Big or small. They’ve been inescapable.

Then there’s the inexplicable as well. Be it the appointment of Chief Minister, Punjab Usman Buzdar or the plethora of photos on social media of PTI ministers doing the most normal of activities such as offering prayers or standing in lines at airports. Perhaps the greatest talking point has been the Dam fund. The reactions on social media simply add to the sometimes odd sense of surrealism.

However, separate fact from fiction, reality from hype, and practicality from expectation, and you will find where we really are.

The ground reality is that we face an uphill and decidedly steep economic and fiscal battle, an increasingly real and potent threat from extremist elements, and a growing divide, or at least perception of mistrust between different pillars of the state, which can only lead to further instability.

At some point or the other, and sooner preferably than later, the current government must stop blaming the errors and excesses of previous governments and start looking within for solutions. The time and energy spent of defending and justifying their decisions mist also stop. You are in power. Use that power. The buck now stops with you. Recognize that.

Similarly, political opponents and detractors of the current government must acknowledge their own part in leading us to where we are. If there are claims of a rigged election, they must ask themselves what they did in their own tenures to help prevent such an occurrence. Even more importantly, do not create problems just for the sake of staying relevant. You had your chance. Now don’t at least be the problem, even if you cannot be part of the solution.

The mantra of the hour must simply be to move on. Get on with it.

This applies to the citizens as well. While it is understandable that the euphoria elicited by those early speeches of Prime Minister Imran Khan will not likely be matched for some time to come – the important thing to remember is one’s own stake in the country as well. Citizen ownership is more important than ever before. If we want a new and improved Pakistan, then will likely have to fight for it in some capacity ourselves as well. We can no longer be part of the problem and demand solutions from outside. The mechanisms of change must first begin with us.

There is no doubt that in a time of uncertainty, the only sure thing we have is ourselves. This cannot be truer for all parties involved, including we, the people.