Are our problems as simple as we think?

While I’m writing this, hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis are gathered around Minar-e-Pakistan, the national monument symbolic of freedom, in a mega event organized by Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf. PTI bought a couple of singers this time too, and many people attribute the Jalsa’s success to that. I differ. I believe people are there because they’re actually seeing Imran Khan as a savior, a hero. They’re there for change.

Are they right? Well, no. Pakistanis are affected by the infamous blame-game defense mechanism so much that they need something to blame for their own evils and mistakes and laziness, and blaming the leadership has turned out to be the most widely accepted way to do it. Since it’s a defense mechanism, people do it subconsciously, and thus honestly believe that all the issues we see plaguing our nation arise from bad government, and the only solution to them is bringing about a better government.

They are right. And wrong. Right because governments do matter. A lot. Wrong because national prosperity and peace also depends on things that are beyond the control of governments and a nation’s people have to play as much role in making things happen as the governments. Our people, on the other hand, tend to believe their responsibility ends at the polling booth.

If it’s not the government, one may ask, what keeps Pakistan so underdeveloped and messy? Everyone would have one’s own answer, rather theory, to this question. One of us would say, “lack of education”. Someone else would say, “religious fundamentalism”. What we see in common between these answers or theories is an urge of simplification. Most people will put the blame over a single or a few factors and relate everything else to those one or few factors. I do that too. But I’ve come to realize how wrong I have been. Wrong because I’ve realized that the problems in Pakistan arise from a complex spectrum of behaviors and tendencies and not just a single or few factors. Of course I can still compound all these problems into a single heading, something like “The Pakistani mind” and still be right. The real mistake would be proposing as simplistic a solution for the problem as the length of the phrase, “The Pakistani Mind”. The right approach would be to reduce the complex spectrum of Pakistani behaviors to an exhaustive map of its constituents and propose individual solutions to each of the nodes in the map. Some solutions would require us to groom our coming generations in better ways, others would require us to educate the adult population. Some would require subtle measures, others would require head-on collisions. If we’re able to study this complex spectrum and study it well enough, we may even be able to prioritize the problems in a better way and make use of science and technology to connect together similar problems and similar solutions and design our campaigns more intelligently. Currently, we prioritize the problems based on our intuition and based on what field of work we ourselves belong to.

Who will do this? Many must be doing it already, and if this idea has ever been visited by someone else before, they have failed to publicize it well because I live on the Internet and I have failed to dig it out.


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