Voices of Pakistan: Our Future

I am a Muslim by birth, I don't usually pray five times a day and I sometimes do doubt God when things get hard. But I do know that the central theme of all religions, including Islam, is to promote peace and tolerance. The pre-dominant theme in our Holy Book is that of forgiveness, we start every act declaring that 'God is merciful and forgiving.' How can people misinterpret something so clear? Of course, some of us retaliate and attack others, we dislike the international political interference, we will have a fit of rage when our countrymen die for reasons that are beyond our understanding, but we must always remember that the nobility of a cause is forever tainted when stained with the blood of innocent people. Suicide bombers in Pakistan now kill thousands of Muslims a year, innocent people, their only crime being in the wrong place at the wrong time -- be it hospitals, schools, mosques and even the local marketplace.

Pakistan, in English is translated to 'the land of the pure.' Ironically, the constant fear and the ease with which lives are lost, is nothing short of the norm in this Islamic republic. We Pakistanis seem to be united by common themes of poverty, inequality and violence. Intrinsically, the three aspects are the main causes of chaos in Pakistan coupled with poor leadership. Very few would disagree with the statement that Pakistan is a country fraught with multiple governance and survival challenges of a socio-economic and political nature. Violence and conflict lie at the heart of this challenge. According to a recent report by a not-for-profit organization, Individualland, over 7,000 civilians have been killed in violence in the country in the year 2010 alone. Apart from this being a very heavy cost in financial terms, the social tension and international isolation it has created for Pakistan has been catastrophic. The growing interest in the relationship between violence and instability stems partly from the fact that the international community has become steadily more involved in efforts to mitigate and resolve violent conflicts through not just political but also development tools. The Kerry-Lugar funds allocated by the U.S. for aiding Pakistan are one such example that illustrate my observation.

Pakistanis are a resilient race. We never give up; we continue to be hopeful for a brighter future for our country fighting against all odds. We have gradually and rather sadly been desensitized to worrying levels of poverty and security threats to our own lives and those of our loved ones. We leave our houses unsure if we will make it back home alive for dinner. The fear is terrifying but we still have faith -- we still believe our country to be capable of many miracles. As international allies come to our nation's aid to prevent this strategically placed country from fall into Islamic extremism and utter chaos, we are aware of the fact that human conflict is perhaps inevitable, but there must be a sense of morality. We have descended into monstrosity. We have created monsters that give up their life to hurt those who are strangers to them. Most of the suicide attackers and bombers in Pakistan are motivated to do this through manipulation of their religious beliefs. Families send their children to 'madrassah's' where children are brainwashed and trained to fight to honor their religion.

In a country of poor governance, where hate, suicide attacks, proxy wars and growing poverty feed the hungry cycle of militancy -- it seems that perhaps the government needs to invest more in the developmental sector to save the nation. The link between poor governance and militancy is very direct -- poor governance leads to poverty, anger, desperation which all feeds the militant cycle. A healthy well-fed populace with basic needs met is unlikely to be radicalized and become human fodder and suicide bombers.