“Corruption’s Canvas: Painting a New Pakistan Through Individual Change” – Part Three – Preparing to go forward

By Jaseem Pasha, MD
Monday, June 5, 2023


“Corruption’s Canvas: Painting a New Pakistan Through Individual Change” explores the deeply entrenched corruption in Pakistan and advocates for systemic change through personal transformation. The article highlights how corruption, extreme religiosity, and societal apathy are interwoven into the nation’s fabric, exacerbating socioeconomic disparities and undermining integrity. It emphasizes that national progress hinges on respecting inherent human dignity, adhering to the rule of law, and fostering critical thinking and personal integrity. The article examines historical examples of significant societal shifts and argues that transformative change is possible within a generation. Pakistanis must abandon harmful practices, embrace ethical principles, and lead by example to create a cohesive, prosperous, and just society. The article concludes that personal accountability and collective effort are essential for overcoming corruption and achieving lasting national progress.

How Pakistanis can initiate to bring a change:

For Pakistan to surmount its systemic corruption, a multifaceted approach is imperative. This journey begins at the individual level and culminates in national transformation. While the path may be challenging, with unwavering dedication, a brighter and more transparent Pakistan awaits.

True national transformation begins at home, within the heart of every individual. Rather than fixating solely on the government’s shortcomings, corrupt leaders, and some devious mullahs, we must first confront the reflections in our mirrors.

Why decry corruption on a national stage while permitting it in our personal theaters?

We know that wishing for things to improve in Pakistan alone does not produce any results. Pakistanis who seriously want to see positive changes taking place in Pakistan must know that it is crucial for them first to embody those very changes they wish to see in Pakistani society.

This internal change can then serve as a beacon for broader societal shifts. Being a role model isn’t just about leading; it’s about demonstrating through actions that change is possible and sustainable. By adopting these practices, individuals can inspire and mobilize fellow Pakistanis, creating a ripple of change that can eventually transform society.

Establishing oneself as a role model in the community and achieving the critical mass necessary for broader influence involves strategic planning, consistent effort, and genuine engagement with the community.

By establishing a clear vision, building trust through consistent actions, and actively involving the community in meaningful projects, you can achieve the critical mass necessary to effect lasting change. This approach is based on the principle that “actions speak louder than words.” This journey requires patience, dedication, and a deep commitment to the values you advocate.

How can we best serve Pakistan?

We can do a lot, depending on the quality of our mindset. Yes, a mindset compatible with authenticity, honesty, intellectual integrity, compassion, respect for human dignity without excluding anyone, and a worldview free of tribalism, double standards, exceptionalism, and bigotry. If this is too impractical for you to adopt in your personal life, no problem, but you do not belong here.

I. What realities Pakistanis must be aware of before deciding to serve their homeland?

Reality #1. Do not be emotional about anything. Emotions were created only for one purpose: to make you aware of what is happening in the present as an effect of something that happened either in the present or in the remote past.

Emotions give you awareness,  information, and essential data about what is happening around you and your world so you can use common sense and critical thinking to figure out the most intelligent way to take the next step.

Once you have figured out all the data conveyed via your emotions, you must analyze the data through critical thinking relevant to your vision and the roadmap to where you want to go.

Mutual consultation and collective decision-making are always wise. It is democratic and maintains team cohesion and transparency.

Reality #2. Face it. In the beginning, you will be alone most of the time. Some may even scoff at you behind your back. It is just a Desi mindset. They are just part of the Desi status quo, and they get very nervous when your love for Pakistan threatens the Pakistani Wadera System[1] that benefits them. Just shrug it off. Stay clear in your thinking and keep going.

a) It is unworldly idealism to believe you can change the world. No one can. But you can immediately embrace the decision to bring the change within yourself that you wish to see in Pakistan and become an example for others. This decision will require you to leave your comfort zone to bring the change within you. The function of the comfort zone is to rest, freshen up, re-energize, and get out to accomplish things you always wanted to do. However, all achievements, accomplishments, and steps for every progress only take place outside the comfort zone. This step is the first of the three conditions that all Pakistanis MUST fulfill to serve Pakistan meaningfully for success.

Be ready to commit to personal growth, consistent action, and leadership by example. This transformative process requires self-awareness, dedication, and the willingness to engage actively with your community. Reflect on your values and beliefs. Educate yourself on the issues affecting your community and Pakistan.

Start with small, manageable changes in your behavior and work up to larger goals. Change doesn’t happen overnight; starting small can help maintain your momentum. Demonstrate the values and behaviors you wish to see in others.

b) Whether you are a Pakistani Muslim, Pakistani Christian, Pakistani Sikh, Pakistani Hindu, or have any other religious affiliation, you are all Pakistani brothers and sisters, and your religions extol precisely the same principle, i.e., you must commit to the principle of respect for inherent human dignity without excluding anyone. This principle is the bedrock of all universal ethics and morality, repetitiously mentioned with emphasis in the scriptures of all religions, Quran, Injeel, Torah, Geeta, the Guru Granth Sahib, and others. Make this principle the foundational criterion for critical thinking, and your decisions will never be problematic. This criterion will boost your confidence, faith, inner peace, and intellectual and ethical resilience.

c) Be consistent in your actions.

Regularly demonstrating your commitment can build trust and influence those around you. Get involved in community service or local organizations that align with your values. This approach contributes to positive change and connects you with like-minded individuals.

Raise awareness about the issues you care about. This awareness could involve writing articles, speaking at community meetings, or using social media platforms to spread your message.

Connect with mentors who embody the qualities you admire and can guide you on your path. Mentorship is invaluable for personal growth and navigating challenges.

Participate in or establish groups focused on mutual support and pursuing common goals. Collective efforts can amplify the impact of your actions. Be prepared to face resistance or criticism. Learning to handle feedback constructively and setbacks is crucial for long-term success. Be open to reassessing and adjusting your approaches based on what is practical or as circumstances change.

Helping most Pakistanis understand the psychodynamics of human predators requires a multifaceted approach that considers individual psychological traits and the societal context that either curbs or facilitates corrupt behavior. Addressing this issue demands preventative measures to protect the vulnerable and corrective actions to deal with offenders justly.

Reality #3. There will be many moments when you feel overwhelmed, sad, and like giving up. It’s OK to feel this way sometimes. It is always transient. Keep going.

It’s a shared experience. But it is a good problem. It opens the opportunity to self-analyze where the weakness lies and trace its origin. By being aware of this origin, you will immediately eliminate it, feeling more resilient than ever.

Remember, your vision and mission are private decisions for a good cause you believe in and are not answerable to anyone. Your job is to spread awareness in theory and by setting an example. You do not control who gives heed to your message and who does not.

Even though people’s economic interests constantly clash with those of the corrupt wealthy elite who have 100% control of the nation’s resources and the financial system, people’s intellectual, ethical, and moral culture stays similar to that of the elite class vis-à-vis selfishness and apathy. The only difference is that the elite is cunning and has complete control over the system, while the dehumanized people are too naïve, lack critical thinking, and consequently stay vulnerable.

Regardless of what you tell them, people will initially feel more secure in living by old corrupt ways because this is all they know about making a living and have been doing for decades. However, more Pakistanis setting up examples of living an upright, productive, and successful life will encourage Pakistani families to live similarly.

Of course, replacing evil methods with conscious efforts to use new honest practices will require people to get out of their comfort zone, which would be a challenge initially for everyone.

There will always be some skeptics who will resist any change for the better. You must understand that people, even those educated and Ph.Ds., unwittingly behave this way because of generations of indoctrination. You must learn to ignore. Educating and creating awareness in people will require patience, and earning their trust takes time.

#4. Be prepared for the surprises. Things do not always happen the way you expect them. Do not hesitate to change the way you originally planned when necessary. More experience in doing things will bring better and faster results. Patience and humility always bring good dividends.

Reality #5. Creating a critical mass is a must for bringing any change in society.

This step is an essential part of the algorithm necessary to make a palpable pulse for change, which requires creating some specific intellectual and spiritual enhancements within oneself, without which no progress is possible. It is a big challenge but doable.

What is a critical mass? [2]

In the context of social change, “critical mass” refers to the minimum portion of a society or group needed to support and maintain a change initiative, making it sustainable and leading to broader societal acceptance.

It is a tipping point at which enough members of a community or society adopt a new idea, behavior, or innovation such that the adoption rate becomes self-sustaining and creates further growth. This concept is crucial in understanding how movements gain momentum and lead to significant changes.

II. What practices must Pakistanis be willing to discontinue altogether before thoughtfully deciding to serve their homeland?
  • Do not rush for quick results. Do not wait for others to change first. Your service to Pakistan must not be conditional when others join you.

Immediately eliminate the toxic components of your worldview, like double standards, tribal thinking, and selfishness, which never add any extra value to your worth and achievements.

  1. Double standards are hypocritical, encourage apathy, and make you insensitive to others’ sufferings. They are the tools of injustice and wickedness and for committing crimes against humanity.
  2. Tribalism encourages divisiveness, hatred, racism, sectarianism, violence, wars, crimes against humanity, genocide, and apartheidism.
  3. Selfishness hardens your heart, encourages greed, spreads corruption, and using it makes you a part of the problem.

Greed is the precursor for all three social vices listed above.

  • Stop differentiating between Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Sunni, Shias, or different Madhabs and sects. Such behaviors are only reflections of intellectual, moral, spiritual, and cultural backwardness that the Quran very vehemently condemns.[3],[4]
  • Despite the mutually hostile policies of the Indian and Pakistani governments, Pakistanis must stop hating India and the Hindus. Remember, like all Pakistanis who have nothing to do with the corrupt domestic and foreign policies of the Pakistani regime and ruling military-Wadera-radical Islamist alliance, likewise, the Hindus and the rest of the citizens of India have nothing to do with the racist policies of Hindutva and the corrupt Indian regime. Hating Indians will encourage Indians to hate Pakistanis. This hate is what the rogue elite in both Pakistan and India want you to keep alive. Hostility towards Hindus jeopardizes the lives of Muslims in India. It is time for Pakistani Desis to spiritually and intellectually grow up.
III. What Pakistanis must quit doing as soon as possible.

Please rest assured that stopping doing the following acts of backwardness will cost you nothing, and your life will start changing immediately. You will likely be mentally and physically healthier in many ways, have more peace of mind than ever experienced, and your routine annual expenses will decrease, ending with some savings. Additionally, your mind and spirit will empower you to become an asset to your community and society. You will be perceived as an example of trustworthiness, guidance, and strength for the community.

So, eliminating the following lifestyles and ways of thinking will go a long way:

  1. Break your ties with every individual and group in Pakistan that promotes divisiveness, hatred, and bigotry. They have neither any value for you nor for Pakistan. Get rid of tribal thinking[5] as a part of your worldview, lest you weaken the community and your motherland by creating distrust and divisions between “Us” and “Them.” By eliminating tribal thinking, you will find yourself more robust and confident.

Tribal thinking does not make you a better Muslim. There is no piety or spirituality, nor are there heavenly rewards for following sectarian, ignorant religious leaders and their ideology. Only humans with a sheep mentality do. Remember, your Sustainer is enough for your guidance.

  1. Stop being selfish. It is a sign of emotional immaturity. Do not justify your selfishness, lest the door of intellectual integrity and enlightenment permanently closes on you.
  2. Do not be apprehensive about what people (my relatives, neighbors, and friends) think or say, “If I do this or that for me, my family, and my country.”
  3. Avoid glamor-seeking culture altogether. It is a drain on your time and hard-earned money. Such culture consumes your precious part of your life and disconnects you from deeper personal and societal needs. Such a culture only benefits the class that has been plundering your country and its resources.
  4. Do not let your critical thinking and decisions be based on any criterion that would conflict with the principle of respect for inherent human dignity. This principle is the essence of Haqooq-ul-Ebad (Human rights).
IV. What specific strengths Pakistanis must be willing to amass before embarking on serving their homeland?

No progress is automatic. Progress requires a clear vision and roadmap that must be constructed in the unique Pakistani context but still independent of external realities — over which the community might not have control—to ensure resilience and sustainability.

Specific strengths that all Pakistanis must amass:

  1. Embrace the principle of respect for inherent human dignity – the bedrock of all ethics and morality. This principle is the litmus test to be considered a civilized human being. All Pakistanis, whether Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, or any other denomination, must embrace this principle to make their homeland prosperously self-sufficient. Without fully embracing this principle, no other step is meaningful.
  2. Achieve a status in the community to become an asset for your community:

Establish a pathway for yourself and the community you will be working with.

  • Rediscover Humanity: Before religious or political affiliations, we must first identify as human beings, recognizing and upholding the inherent human dignity of every individual.

Defining what it means to be a Pakistani:

As a citizen of Pakistan, you must consider yourself first as a human being. Then you are a Pakistani Muslim, Pakistani Hindu, Pakistani Christian, Pakistani Sikh, or any other religious affiliation and enjoy your heritage as being Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pathan, Muhajir, Kashmiri and others.

Foster Respect: Mutual respect builds a foundation for societal betterment. What good is your religion, heritage, and culture if that does not encourage you to respect your fellow citizens of different faiths or ethnic backgrounds?

Dismantle Divisive Barriers: Political, sectarian, or otherwise sectarian divisions hamper collective progress. Embracing unity and a common purpose is vital. Sectarian divisiveness and mistrust are proof of intellectual and spiritual backwardness and emotional immaturity. Such individuals must grow up to be true Pakistani, as defined above.

  • Rediscover ethics and morality: Strengthen Institutions: An empowered, unbiased institutional framework is the bulwark against corruption.

Embrace Personal Integrity & Critical Thinking. No religion and no faith have any value if one lacks personal integrity and lives with a sheep mentality, following blindly their corrupt leaders who spread distrust, hate, bigotry, divisiveness, corruption, and wickedness and justify violence and crimes against their fellow citizens.

Every Pakistani must engage in personal introspection and self-correction as starting points for broader societal transformation. Invest in building your strength and resilience in intellectual, ethical, and spiritual domains.

This investment means committing to intellectual integrity, which includes a commitment to truth, willingness to revise personal beliefs that cannot be verified, identifying personal biases, false beliefs, false fears, and false assumptions, developing fair-mindedness, adhering to logical principles, and reasoning, and humility in the face of complexity. By becoming a good example, you enlighten your community to think critically, collectively, and positively with clarity.

No one is perfect. But it is wise to master your knowledge and skills in everything you require to lead your community, progressing towards unity, brotherhood, mutual trust, cohesion, and working together in various community projects involving men, women, and youth. Ensure that your educational programs encourage critical thinking, personal integrity, the importance of transparency, ethics, and morality based on the principles of the Golden Rule[6] , and respect for inherent human dignity, even those whose beliefs and traditions may not be the same as yours. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said that a Muslim is one from whose hands and tongue no one gets harmed.

  • First, invest in our character:

No matter how trivial, every act of dishonesty paints another brushstroke on the larger canvas of national corruption; we cannot hope for an incorruptible government if this nation’s pillars do not exemplify integrity in our daily actions. There’s no merit in being hypersensitive to others’ transgressions yet utterly tolerant of our own.

Remember, nothing in life is without a cost. We must first invest in our character to earn respect, transparency, and a corruption-free society. Let’s prioritize respect for every fellow citizen’s dignity, cultivate unwavering integrity, and foster genuine empathy. Only then can we create the Pakistan we all envision.”

Pakistan’s #1 challenge – Sheep Mentality, Corruption & Extreme religiosity:

Do not judge Islam by counting the number of Muslims; instead, rely upon how many Muslims are good human beings from whose hands and tongues no one gets harmed.

Because of extreme corruption, no one trusts Pakistanis worldwide. As strange as it may seem, as there is a culture of corruption in Pakistan, to the same extent, there is also a culture of extreme religiosity. Religiosity without concerns for rampant corruption, injustice, and dehumanization implicitly provides a complicity cover from the level of misusing public power for private benefits to richly funded terrorist activities for political purposes.[7] Because both religiosity and corruption in Pakistan are intensely prevalent, their mutual impact seems to be more complementary than competitive.

It behooves that all Pakistanis who are sincere and feel concerned about the future of Pakistan have an opportunity to prove to themselves that Islam is genuinely a true religion of peace and civilized society by displaying a genuine reverence towards Prophet Sunnah by mirroring his exemplary character towards all, even every non-Muslim who lives in Pakistan, to respect them and shield them from any harm from any side.

In summary, practice and promote principles that guarantee societal progress, such as respect for the rule of law, respect for human dignity and human rights, especially those of women and children, transparency and accountability, mutual consultation, working for non-oligarchic democracy, an economy that prioritizes the well-being of everyone, academic education that emphasizes critical thinking & ethics and morality based on the Golden Rule principle. All actions must take place outside one’s comfort zone. Furthermore, the Prophet’s roadmap for confronting wrongdoing emphasized proactive action against evil, advocating change through direct action, words, or, at the very least, heartfelt disdain.

Article Part 1 Article Part 2

[1] The “Wadera” system in Pakistan refers to a traditional feudal system predominantly found in the rural parts of Sindh and parts of Punjab. In this system, the “Wadera” are the landowning elite who wield significant socio-economic and political power over the local population, especially over peasants and tenant farmers. As landlords, Waderas have substantial control over the livelihoods of those who live on their lands. This control extends to employment, housing, and even access to basic necessities like water. Their economic power enables them to exert influence on local markets and resources. The system has been criticized for perpetuating feudalistic practices that hinder socio-economic development and democratization. Issues such as bonded labor, lack of access to education, and healthcare for the rural poor are prevalent in areas dominated by Waderas. Additionally, the system is often blamed for political corruption and electoral manipulation.

[2] Critical mass: The critical mass is not necessarily a large majority but a sufficiently influential subgroup capable of swaying the broader population. These individuals often include community leaders, influencers, or other pivotal figures whose endorsement or participation legitimizes and amplifies the change effort.

Once critical mass is reached, social proof and network effects take over. Social proof is the psychological phenomenon where people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation. Network effects occur when a product or service gains additional value as more people use it.

In the civil rights movement in the United States, although active participants were a minority, they reached a critical mass that influenced public opinion and policy change.

Creating a critical mass in the community where you live involves a series of strategic steps that an individual can follow to effectively mobilize and influence a group toward achieving a specific goal.

You must define your objective and clearly articulate what you want to achieve, why it is crucial, and how it will benefit the community. You must gather data on the community’s demographics, existing opinions, and potential allies and opponents, identifying key influencers and possible barriers. It would be a tremendous help if you identify and recruit a small group of committed individuals who share your vision and can help lead the effort. This group will form the nucleus of your critical mass.

[3] Quran 6:108 –  “And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah , lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do.”

[4] Quran 6:159 – “Surely you have nothing to do with those who have made divisions in their religion and become factions. Their matter is with Allah and He will indeed tell them (in time) what they have been doing.”

[5] Tribal thinking or tribalism is a mentality or a behavior in which individuals strongly identify with their own group, tribe, or community, often to the exclusion or detriment of others outside the group. Their loyalty to their own group often supersedes other considerations, leading to a strong sense of belonging and identity within the group. They make a distinction between members of one’s own group (“us”) and those outside it (“them”). This can result in suspicion, antagonism, or outright hostility towards out-group members. Actions taken by the group, even if morally questionable, are often justified because they serve the group’s interests. The morality of the group’s actions is usually seen through the lens of its benefits to the group, rather than universal moral principles. They display in-group favoritism (preferring and prioritizing one’s own group) and out-group negativity (negative perceptions and actions towards non-members), leading to inter-group conflict, discrimination, and divisiveness when different groups interact. It is observed in various forms, such as nationalism, ethnic group loyalty, religious sectarianism (Shia-Sunni), often resulting in extreme violence and crimes against humanity.

[6] Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

[7] A 100-billion-dollar business for covert activities against the unfriendly foreign governments. Terrorist acts can cause ripple effects through the economy that have negative impacts. The most obvious is the direct economic destruction of property and lives. Terrorism indirectly affects the economy by creating market uncertainty, xenophobia, loss of tourism, and increased insurance claims. Terrorists are like rogue soldiers of fortune in the past, mercenaries, or hired guns, who would cause terror, destroy, and commit crimes against humanity for a price in billions of dollars. They exploit the religiosity of people based on ignorance.

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