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Forging a National Purpose

Dr Atique- Ur- Rehman
Development of state hinges upon two cardinals; government and citizens. Equation is simple. Governing body should be honest and efficient in optimizing and utilization of resources and people should act like responsible citizens. Complications arise when laxity on either side creates an imbalance which results in chaos.
Our issues are complex but our witless approach to resolve those problems is even more componded.
It is not one odd problem which we think can be fixed through an administrative order or a legislation. It is multiplex state of affairs which has surrounded the country and nation, in all spheres of life.
Interrelationship among many components of states is the predicament of societal and governance. We continue to examine single item in the problematic without understanding that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, that change in one element means change in the others.
Our problems have accumulated over decades long political instability, mismanaged economic policies, war against terrorism, geo-politics, grave societal issues linked with ethnicity, sectarianism, gender equality, human rights, injustice, nepotism, corruption, erosion of moral values, lack of civic sense, information disorder and climate hazards like floods, extreme weather conditions, severe monsoon. Other nations, around the globe, do face similar issues related to energy, climate hazards, corrupt governance, health and food security. But they have developed efficient institutions, check and balance within system and civic sense among masses to overcome such issues.
We need a different and out of box approach for management of our issues. May be Seneca’s model of self-shaping. He said
“solution to our misery lay not in the external world but rather within each one of us. If you wanted to lead a satisfying life, you should not repress your emotions but instead claim personal responsibility for them.
British chancellor of the exchequer Denis Healy said that when you’re in a hole, stop digging. As a society, we’ve dug ourselves into a substantially deep hole, and the shovel is our systematic misunderstanding of one another.
Political actors stand responsible to lead the nation through a carefully crafted inclusive approach.
We are trapped in between trivia and crisis. We are more worried who should resolve our issues than overcoming the issue.
To start with, we have to make sense of this critical situation. Country needs a whole of nation approach but obviously under constitutional umbrella. First task with leadership is to forges a national purpose in the face of great crises.
Information disorder is the biggest hurdle in achieving public consensus leading towards national purpose. We should trust each other.
Whole of nation approach is civil- military joint effort led by civilian government, involvement of technical experts, academia and responsible citizenship. Military has abundant resources and it is very much inline with constitutional ambit to utilize those resources for good of the country.
Achieving harmony through political dialogue should be a constant factor. External forces have always exploited the fissures through various mechanism. Civil-Military relations is key to maintain a sustained effort to resolve issues confronting whole nation. Guard against gossip and external maneuvers by anemic forces to forge a rift on various fronts, as has been done in the past.
Forging a national purpose is not an option but an utmost necessity. Pakistan is being squeezed in between the fake narrative woven by our own political elite and external enemies.
Narrative is a special kind of story. It says every thing about a nation, who you are and what are your future aspirations. Narrative doesn’t come out of the usual competitive landscape. It takes a different approach and a shift in thinking led by the leadership.
Political Communication has its persuasive affects. Masses adopt the way politics dictate. During last few years, public has been deceived to gauge the real motives of their leaders. Masses thought motive of leaders is the struggle for civil supremacy but actually it was a hidden push and pull to gain power.  The political communication of our political leadership was intended to misguide the masses and provoke an element of mistrust against institutions. Thus public voice at the moment is not supportive of sane arguments rather is detrimental to national security. External forces have fully exploited this situation.

Ability to control the political environment depends on the ability to initiate and control events, regulate the flow of information and mobilise elite support. Polotical environment can only be controlled through Parliament. The Parliament is biggest forum to built narrative. Unfortunately our political discourse does not move through given process that is parliament. Issues are discussed outside on the roads and in media.
Social media is harbinger of spreading fake news and propaganda among public.
Our bare minimum effort should be to counter propaganda at external and internal front.
US and India heavily rely on their film industry for narrative building. Between 1990-2010, CIA featured in about hundred films and TV serials for their set objectives. India rely on their cinema.
Forging national purpose, will be a befitting beginning for resolution of multi-prong issues.
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