5 QUESTIONS: ‘An actionable example of someone doing something good’

Published: July 6, 2011 - 14:21 Updated: July 11, 2011 - 14:58
Based in Karachi, Kiran Nazish is a freelance journalist and activist. She has written for leading newspapers and magazines of Pakistan and abroad. She has established her own networks: Angels Charity Network and Empowering Youth Org
 How will you describe the current crisis in Pakistan. Is it an artificial crisis, a pseudo-western construct? Or is it an authentic, deeper, existential, political, identity crisis?
At this point, the crisis is pretty much internal and not artificial at all. Everything goes back to how the State departments function. One corrupted department facilitates the other, and hence, leaves no room for positive efforts to be made. Pakistan needs to learn how to link everything together. It’s a branching cycle and we need to understand that the roots lie in its economic backwardness. If Pakistan’s economy gets back on its feet, it will be able to bring the rest of the system back into harmony. Economic advancement is the only solution that can help revive the security issue, the health, education and social issues. People need security of life and livelihood. That’s the landmark solution.
 What is the divide between the fundamentalist and secular/liberal/moderate paradigms in civil society? Are the moderates 
losing ground?
I think we are living at a point where we can turn the possibilities of future. Fundamentalists are definitely losing in terms of the vote and support of the masses. But they are still very powerful. If the moderate/secular dialogue continues to grow and influence people, we will be able to defeat the ‘fundas’. 
Is it true that the educated elite in Pakistan has betrayed the country?
Yes, they definitely have betrayed. They have caused brain drain, and conformed to complacency. Their lack of participation has created a humongous gap. 
Do you, personally, feel trapped? Do you see windows of hope, resilience, resistance? Can  you give examples…
Women, minority groups and low income farmers are now challenging decades of oppression and maltreatment they have been living through. The feudal system is under threat of a rising new political party. Despite the fact that journalists are threatened, abducted and killed, we don’t see journalists stepping down from their duty. After Saleem Shahzad’s brutal murder (Saleem was my relative), the whole community had gathered to demand justice. On June 22, 2011, Marvi Memon, an MNA (Member, National Assembly) in the ruling government, resigned from Parliament on the principle that the government has failed to serve and protect the people. Pakistan has never seen such changes before, especially happening all at once.
Yes, there is definitely hope, resilience, resistance. People are understanding the difference between the right concept and the wrong concept. Pakistanis have been suffering so much lately that they have started to identify the causes of their failures, and one of the biggest causes have been identity crises. Political parties are still influential in many areas and people there are still confused (or otherwise convinced). But change is definitely on its way.
The young in Pakistan are experimenting with new music, prose, poetry, theatre, cultural expressions. Do they signify a flight of imaginative liberation?
Honestly, I believe in the contrary. Music, lyrics and poetry that supposedly change a lot in a nation — they seem to have absolutely no effect on the bad habits of people here. From young musicians to goldies and superstars, everyone has come up with an inspiring song or two, trying to insert a seed of hope, inspire a positive habit, but, generally, people are immune to the impact. They don’t heed the demagogues, but they also don’t take heed of the liberating artist. 
The only thing that can change people in practical life is an actionable example of someone doing something good. People may not believe in Ghamidi (a famous progressive modern Islamic scholar), but they do believe in Edhi (a global award-winning philanthropist), if you know what I mean.   

This story is from print issue of HardNews