Byline: Saad Rasool
The New Year, from an astronomical perspective, is a logical fallacy. For all intents and purposes, it is just one random point in space: and each time the Earth cross that point in space (relative to the sun), we celebrate the beginning of another calendar year.
This year, the New Year is more significant. It also marks the end of a decade: a decade of decadence in Pakistan. A ten-year period that was wrought with political turmoil, unprecedented corruption, heart-wrenching episodes of terrorism, and recurring threat of all-out war. However, in the same breath, let us not forget that this decade also marks our seemingly impossible victory against entrenched forces of terror, a palpable disturbance in the political status quo, and a loosening of the age-old US-centric foreign policy.
In the circumstances, as we wind this decade to a close, it is pertinent to pause and take stock of what we have been through, and what direction we seem to be headed in.
At the start of this decade, Pakistan's institutional viability was still intact. Our exchange-rate was still comparable to other countries in the region, and the economic gains from the Musharraf years had not yet been fully squandered. The Pakistan Steel Mill was still functional, and catering to our domestic needs. Pakistan Railways was marginally profitable, and PIA was not yet a loss-making enterprise. Border tensions had started to escalate, but the possibility of an all-out war in South Asia seemed implausible.
However, this past decade (of decadence) has introduced us to things we did not know of before. In this time, just in Sindh, we found out what it means to be 'full-fry' or 'half-fry' in the language of Addi. We discovered what China-cutting was, and how the 'system' works under the likes of Manzoor Qadir Kaka. During this time, Omni Group rose from anonymity to become a household name for corruption. We found out how entire banks (like the Sindh Bank) can be created for the purpose of money laundering. How national institutions like the Steel Mill and PIA can be brought to bankruptcy at the hands of a few corrupt thugs. How children in Thar can die of hunger, even as the likes of Sharjeel Memon make billions at their expense. We discovered that how an entire generation of children can suffer, without medicine and vaccination. That places like Lyari can become football fields for terrorists like Uzair Baloch. And how non-payment of 'bhatta' can result in the...