“Corruption’s Canvas: Painting a New Pakistan Through Individual Change” – Part Two – Figuring Out The Inherited Problems

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.

What do Pakistanis feel most about?

Insecurity, safety, endless suffering, extreme poverty, decreasing amenities of life, and uncertainties about everything are the chief torments.

Culturally inherited systemic problems that need to be pieced together:

We have no control over which culture, which religion, and which traditional and ethical environments we are born in. Fortunately, we are all born with an inherent intellectual ability to differentiate between what is just and compassionate and what is unfair and cruel, along with an inborn control of which ethical and moral path to choose. This ethical awareness becomes quite apparent sooner or later to both mature and young adults, irrespective of the ethical quality of the cultural values. Even the members of the mafia gang are well aware of these ethics and choose when to use double standards and when not, depending on their unique relationships with their friends and foes.

For security and safety, most adults are level-headed enough to understand that one must be very cautious about the greed, bribery, and corruption met at every step of life. There is always a big challenge to cope with the pressures in a culture where dehumanizing ethics have become the norm. In such confrontations, it becomes more crucial to learn to differentiate between accepting a bribe, which is always unethical, and being in a situation where one is forced to bribe to get out of an unacceptable situation, in which case it would not be a bribe, it would be an extortion.

In the Pakistani context, sadly, people’s practice of religion is displayed mostly as exaggerated religiosity, almost hysterical at times. Their religious worldview, lacking empathy and rationality, does not necessarily always match with the sufferings of their fellow citizens. Many get manipulated to embrace radical religious doctrines ( a highly lucrative business for the sectarian religious mafias) and join groups that act as proxies for domestic or rogue foreign powers.

The Pakistani masses, on the other hand, remain too engrossed with their tribulations to feel empathy for the ones living beyond the front doors of their homes. Sectarian conflicts, murders, misogyny, rape, and violent crimes are rampant. Human trafficking and child labor business is brisk.

Creating spaces for community dialogue and civic engagements that can foster a culture of community cohesion, integrity, and critical thinking, as well as the Islamic concept of respect for inherent human dignity without excluding anyone, is unheard of.

The tangled web we weave

While historians always write history about the victorious, the history of human achievements and sufferings is always made by the ink of blood and sweat of the masses.

Both human progress and corruption are not just an institutional sequence but rather an aggregation of either myriad “small” acts of wisdom or myriad “small” acts of dishonesty, depending on the ethical and moral quality of worldview.

What Pakistanis can do?

There is no such thing as an instant solution. All the suffering, dehumanization, greed, double standards, and shallow religiosity that we see today is a logical outcome of a worldview that was practiced for decades by Pakistanis, not necessarily by just the Pakistani military and politicians.

Suppose we want to see a Pakistani society radiant with peace, happiness, security, and safety, with an environment of mutual respect, free of misogyny, tribalism, and double standards. In that case, we must embrace a worldview that values ethics and morality that matches the change we wish to see in Pakistan. This approach is just as simple. Based on the law of cause and effect, Pakistanis must choose a precise ethical and intellectual worldview matching the change they want to see. In such cases, “ifs and buts” do not count. And this cannot be achieved unless a critical mass of Pakistanis come out of their comfort zone, especially those who are very concerned.

Pakistanis are humans and not different from citizens of other nations:

Pakistanis have received a bad rap, mostly coming from the Pakistani elite. Yes, Pakistanis, with their current problems, are not different from citizens of other nations and have no reason to feel inferior to any other nationality in the world. Every country is a glass house, and its inhabitants have participated to a greater or lesser degree in either the dehumanization and oppression of their fellow citizens domestically, such as sectarian, tribal, racial terrorism, gangster violence, or participated in the crimes against humanity committed on the population of foreign nations, causing countrywide devastation with impunity. No country is civilized enough to claim that its State’s ethics, moralities, and the rule of law guarantee respect for inherent human dignity without excluding anyone.

Additionally, as often flagrantly touted by many developed nations as their showpiece, the ‘rule of law’ is 100% practiced based on the psychopathic policy of “might is right,” with ‘democracy’ wantonly stamped on it. Rampant dehumanization, endless mayhem, genocide, and apartheid are callously labeled as collateral damage as if they are all within the ‘rule of law.’

However, like any country, Pakistan has every opportunity to change its course toward a better future. Pakistanis must change their life paradigm and embrace a worldview that intuitionally generates a civilized society. This vital step, fortunately, does not require external political power for people who have nothing to lose. It is a choice.

Just like every individual citizen has a total potential to achieve necessary milestones of progress in their pursuit of peace and happiness within one’s life span, so does the entire nation, where everyone has the same potential towards progress.

It is the know-all individual among the apologists of the status quo who flippantly scoff at the idea of a generation bringing a positive change within one’s life span and call it too idealistic. But history has many such examples of positive change. One must understand that it is natural for the status quo apologists to discourage any changes that would potentially threaten to uproot the system that traditionally benefited the apologists. The best policy is to ignore them and keep steadfast until the vision is actualized.

Transformative change within a single generation is possible and realistic. It has occurred multiple times under various circumstances.

History is replete with significant positive change within a single generation, often against the odds and in the face of skeptics who deemed such progress too idealistic and impractical.

For example:

The Civil Rights Movement in the United States

During the 1950s and 1960s, the United States witnessed a seismic shift in the social and legal structures that upheld racial segregation and discrimination, particularly in the southern states.[1]

The Women’s Suffrage Movement

The struggle for women’s suffrage in various countries involved relentless activism and advocacy to grant women the right to vote. In the United States, the Nineteenth Amendment, ratified in 1920, granted American women the right to vote[2], a change mirrored over time in various other nations worldwide.

The End of Apartheid in South Africa

Apartheid, the system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa, was formally dismantled in the early 1990s.[3] Nelson Mandela, a key figure in the anti-apartheid movement, was released from prison in 1990 and later became the first Black president of South Africa in 1994, marking a significant turnaround in the nation’s policies and international standing.

India’s Independence and Democratic Establishment

After nearly 200 years of British colonial rule, India gained independence in 1947 through a non-violent resistance movement led by figures like Mahatma Gandhi.[4]

These examples illustrate that transformative change within a single generation is possible and has occurred multiple times under various circumstances. Each instance involved vision, persistence, and the collective effort of people dedicated to improving their societies. Such historical precedents serve as powerful reminders of the potential for progress when a society is committed to change.

What does it mean to come out of our comfort zone?

This question is addressed to those genuinely concerned with Pakistan’s future and want their homeland to be steered in the direction that will lead them to build a peaceful, progressive, prosperous, civilized society.

Coming out of your comfort zone means engaging in activities or behaviors that challenge your everyday routines, push the boundaries of your usual experiences, or make you feel slightly uneasy because they are unfamiliar. This concept is often emphasized in personal development, psychology, and professional growth contexts because stepping out of your comfort zone is crucial for learning, growth, and innovation.

Socially, stepping out of your comfort zone might mean engaging with people outside of your usual social circle, which can enhance your interpersonal skills and understanding of diverse perspectives.

The biggest challenge that one would immediately experience after coming out of one’s comfort zone would be to give up those routine self-dehumanizing practices that have been internalized over a lifetime and have been complicit without being conscious of them.

For example, actively choosing honesty over convenience in personal and professional dealings, even when corrupt practices are the norm, or making a conscious effort to understand and respect the feelings and boundaries of others, which involves active listening and consideration for the perspectives and experiences of different community members, rejecting religious, tribal, cultural, or political double standards, giving up previously rationalized greed and hypocrisy, prioritizing values over material gains, such as focusing on relationships, community, and personal growth rather than solely on acquiring wealth, and educating oneself about biases and logical fallacies.

It is not easy, but it becomes doable with little persistence. But there is nothing to lose.

You will be surprised how your new worldview will pleasantly affect your immediate environment. One must never forget that “no man is an island.”[5] This phrase means humans do not thrive when isolated; we are inherently connected social creatures. It reminds us of our interconnectedness and the importance of fostering a sense of community and mutual care in our interactions.

Article Part 1 Article Part 3

[1] “Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63” by Taylor Branch.

[2] “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote” by Elaine Weiss – Published 2018

[3] “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela. Originally published November 30, 1994

[4] “Freedom at Midnight” by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. Freedom at Midnight (1975) is a non-fiction book by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre

[5] The phrase “No man is an island” is a famous line from a poem by the English poet John Donne, written in 1624.

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