Black and white democracy

Published: November 6, 2011

Pakistani youth are bent on making a difference to their country, but change does not always need to revolve around political revolution. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVED

I see so many young boys and girls around who are just dying to do something for this country. Interestingly though, the idea of doing something for most of them revolves around starting a political, semi-political or quasi-political movement, bringing about a revolution, replacing the government with angels etc. I am not against any of this, in fact it is refreshing to see such great ideas and plans in our youth. But it is also depressing that there is such a dearth of other ideas.

In my humble opinion, nations are not built by governments, governments are built by nations. Revolutions are just the final act in a long play where thinkers, writers, poets, scientists, professionals, scholars, sportsmen, businessmen, artists and enlightened common people play major roles. Sadly, there is very little ambition around that targets excellence in these fields. Isn’t it sad to know that:

1. The last time a Pakistani won a major squash competition was in 1997.

2. The last (and only) time a Pakistani won the Nobel Prize was in 1979.

3. The last time a Pakistani writer’s book sold a million copies locally was …. I don’t know if that ever happened.

4. The last time Pakistan reported a budget surplus was in 2001.

5. The last internationally admired Pakistani singer died in 1997.

The list goes on and on. Isn’t it time that we stopped trying to revolutionize something in which our total expertise depends on what we watch on Geo and read in the newspapers. Shouldn’t we stop trying to change the shades of grey and start to concentrate on the black and white, the things that are clear, the things we can actually do.

The only revolution we need is in the way we perceive our own specific roles in life. The only thing we can change is our own thinking. Maybe we just need to be the best in whatever we do and we won’t need any other revolution. Maybe we don’t need to come out on the roads, maybe we just need to go to work, not just go to offices and schools and colleges, but really go to work.

The original blog post can be found here.


Sarmad Tariq

A motivational speaker, and a writer with the aim to help others realize the positive significance of limitations at organizational and personal levels.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    Short, to the point and beautifully enunciated.
    There has to something wrong with the water we drink because the same Pakistani goes abroad and becomes successful in his endeavours – that should tell us something. Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    The real problem of this country is fuedalism, let’s say if free and fair elections held in Pakistan do you think people who live in rural areas will be free enough to cast their votes ? NO.
    They do what their LORDS command as they are widely dependent on their Chaudhries, Gillanis, Shareefs, Pagaras, Bhuttos, Legharis etc. Feudal Mafia of Pakistan ganged up against Musharraf not because of his performance or people were against his style of Governance but due to the gradual death of fuedalism caused by Musharraf as a result all of them teamed up against him in the name of ‘democracy’ and sent him home and now the same feuds fighting with each other to take over this country –

    So the revolution can’t come in this part of the world in one day but step wise. Musharraf’s steps (except messing up with Judiciary) were the efforts he introduced to break status quo, local government system (Grass-root level democracy) where the very basic issues of the area/ city will be resolved by the local representatives and not by some uneducated Wadera sitting miles away in provincial capital, Freedom of Media and by giving more role to women and minorities in the system etc.
    I see even Imran Khan has not talked about brushing off feuds if comes to power which means he will also become a part of system being toed by the feuds.
    Revolution will only come into this country when we work out to fix the system and that can only happen if we elect the TESTED person who has done fruitful efforts to bring real change into this country.Recommend

  • Hameedullah

    I agree that we need to change our minds and priorities but don’t agree when you say that “last internationally admired Pakistani singer died in 1997”. We still have Abida Parween, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shazia Khuhsk, Atif Aslam and others who are definitely internationally admired.Recommend

  • Baqir

    superb ideas nd writingRecommend

  • tayyab

    precise , hitting the bullseye, excellent .Recommend

  • Majid Urrehman

    Sarmad I owe you for writing this piece!Recommend

  • Cynical

    Excellent.Hope it opens up a few closed minds.Recommend

  • Natalya

    I like… a lot…!Recommend

  • Silent Observer

    As much as I will like to say that we are free, independent and sovereign state and people, the fact of the matter is that we are not. The sooner we realize it, the better.

    I will not blame the US or any other so-called super-power for all of our problems and ills. We must develop the guts and the grit ‘to call spade a spade’ and look deep down into our own hearts, souls and minds before blaming anybody else.

    If the US is attacking our land and people in the name of the so-called ‘war on terror’ it is only because of our feeble and weak leadership. If the US is doing what it wants in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, nobody else but we as a nation and its so-called ’servant leadership’ is to be blamed.

    We must understand that the US and all other countries work only for their ‘own vested interest’ in the guise of ‘national interest’ and as long as we don’t do the same, we will not be able to become a real ‘free and independent state’

    Nevertheless, I can still see some light at the end of the tunnel. Pakistani people, by which I mean ordinary Pakistanis like you and me, are hard-working, patriotic, understanding, intelligent and pretty smart people. If we can be successful overseas, why not in our own land? It is these people of the land of the pure that I consider as the greatest asset of Pakistan and come what may, they will keep on trying to make their ‘each tomorrow’ better than today.Recommend

  • Ahsan Nisar

    In a “cosmetic” democracy like Pakistan, the quest for securing or preserving political power is doomed to end up in failure without a nod from the establishment which is the power behind the throne. Whether the regime is military or civilian, the establishment needs to have a political constituency. This explains why every military government in Pakistan cultivates relations with some political forces and tries to cobble together a political arrangement to further its interest. In my opinion, democracy in Pakistan is “off” the people, “far” the people “buy” the people!Recommend

  • Anonymous

    It is said that when a revolution is about to evolve, a nation faces the same pain a mother faces when conceiving a child! Let’s keep our fingers crossed and see how the events unfold in the near future…!!!Recommend

  • Reluctant Fundamentalist

    After reading the blog, I think that I have arrived at the root cause of the problem plaguing Pakistan. We all know that Allama Iqbal dreamt of Pakistan that’s why he is called the “Thinker of Pakistan”. Based on this dream, Jinnah founded Pakistan. Now, if one happens to read Iqbal’s poetry, one clearly gets an impression that Iqbal never dreamt of Pakistan to become a secular state. Having said that, I am not of the opinion that Jinnah wanted a secular state either. But if we believe that Jinnah wanted a secular Pakistan, then the nightmare we are experiencing nowadays is not, in any way, the result of the dream once envisioned by Iqbal. In other words, Pakistan today is the product of dichotomy between dream and reality.Recommend

  • samia

    Very good. One of the most meaningful articles I’ve read on express tribune ever.Recommend