For as long as the political process has trudged along after the last martial law, political leaders have been falling out over who has done more for the country. Yet, the widespread social malaise these days indicates a general lack of confidence in any leader's ability or in his sincerity or in both. Even the great Khan's image, with dwindling political support from the masses for him, his party's promiscuous memberships and his not-so-radical strategies for achieving lofty goals, does not any longer seem to be the emblem of hope that it was initially expected to be. The efficacy of the programmes each leader has will depend a great deal on his sincerity, political strength and the effectiveness of the programmes themselves.
Religious parties and their leaders lack the political strength to bring about any positive change. In many cases, their leaders and members, inebriated with a perniticious belief in their own righteousness and superiority, chalk out preposterously ineffective programmes and regard all opposition to their plans to be the outcome of disregard for religion. This line of thinking inevitably breeds sectarianism. These parties and their leaders can best serve this nation and the Ummah by staying out of politics.2
Unfortunately, no one, even among the political leaders of our country, has the stature of a national leader -- one who, on the basis of his personality, character and service and on the basis of his vision and sagacity, has such hold on the masses that they would go along with him in the face of extreme hardships to achieve the targets he sets for the nation and one who has a committed team of competent and dedicated lieutenants.
But if there were such a leader -- and let's hope that some day there will be3 --, one would like to suggest him a few basic measures to take the country away from the catastrophe towards which it seems to be edging closer day by day.
Of the areas in which drastic measures are required, the three most important are:
i) the economy
ii) the system of education
iii) the mosque
Apart from these key areas, concrete changes are also needed in social and legal set-up.
In a special section of this issue, Shahzad Saleem presents a nine-point suggestion based on the ideas of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi for the required measures that the rulers in our society need to take. This suggestion is followed by a look at some of the pertinent issues in more detail. It is hoped that those who take charge after the elections on 3 February will pay some heed to solving real issues rather than preening themselves on palliatives as their predecessors did before them.