NationalVOLUME 15 ISSUE # 13

Intelligentsia must lead

The country is in real multi-dimensional and multi-level crisis and as almost all state institutions are ostensibly unable to respond to the deep morass, the only hope remains the country’s intelligentsia. However, it remains to be seen what is the collective capacity of Pakistani intelligentsia and how it could respond to the grave challenges faced by the country.

The multi-dimensional crises in Pakistan include significant political systemic collapse, near-economic default and above all, noticeable social decay. As the politicians, civil society, official bureaucracy among others are either insensitive or have no capacity to respond to the situation, the only hope remains the country’s intelligentsia. When one studies the political science and particularly governance from the standpoint of the theory of historical institutionalism, it transpires that countries quite often get into crisis when they stick to historical path dependency. For instance, in Pakistan in the past whenever political governments failed, the military took upon itself to lead the way by taking the reins of government in its own hands. It, according to historical institutionalism, is path dependency, which in the case of Pakistan, has been on the military.

However, the nature of crisis in Pakistan today is not only political or economic but more importantly social. Therefore, the path dependency upon the military to rescue the country out of the crisis is no longer applicable. Even in the past, the path dependency of Pakistan on the military could not address the crisis prevailing in the era. It was despite the fact that some brilliant and earnest reformative efforts were launched by military dictators. General Ayub Khan had come up with an innovative local government system as well as a successful economic model and General Pervez Musharraf also with a brilliant local government system. So, the path dependency upon the military has been futile. Whenever, a country falls into deep political and economic crisis, the political forces lead the way. However, due to several reasons the political actors and institutions may not be able to play their desirous and expected role in Pakistan. Against this backdrop, it is the intelligentsia that could be expected to lead the way.

It is the intelligentsia that keep on studying the developments within the country and continuously suggest solutions. The members of the intelligentsia, which is often found within two professions, academia and journalism, their primary task is to keep an eye on each and every negative and positive development in every aspect of statecraft, systems and society. However, in normal times the intelligentsia remain in the background and keep on with its main task. But in times of national and social crisis, intellectuals come forward and even not only influence decision and policy-making but also take up the domains in their own hands. The same is expected of Pakistani intelligentsia. Now the biggest question is that whether most members of Pakistan intelligentsia at this point of our national history have the will and capacity to do so? As far as the capacity of members of Pakistani intelligentsia is concerned, there are a lot of question marks in this regard. It can be gauged from the fact that at least in the recent history of Pakistan no example could be cited when the intellectuals launched a movement by their own to address the multi-dimensional crisis in the country.

Now the issue of willingness is also quite there with Pakistani intellectuals as most of them are quite self-centred and use the situation for making a fortune. It is a well-known fact that a large number members of Pakistani intelligentsia have been getting perks and privileges from foreign countries, which shower benefits on them either for understanding the crisis in Pakistan or to make it more grave.

It does not mean that conscientious and considerate people are not found in Pakistani intelligentsia. There are definitely good people in Pakistan intellectuals but the problem is that their strength is limited and they individually count, but do not make any difference let along addressing the multi-dimensional crisis in the country. Now the only option for Pakistani intelligentsia to play a leading role in driving out the country out of the deep political, social and economic crisis is that the earnest individuals must come together and devise a plan of action. If it happens, it would be extremely beneficial for the country. If someone has not thought in this direction so far of bringing conscientious and considerate intellectuals to one forum with a single aim to engage them in philosophical and academic debates but with a limited and time-bound mandate to pull the country out of the crisis. No stone shall be left unturned to establish such a forum, so as to launch the movement for the reformation of the political, economic and social system of the country in order to address the multi-dimensional crisis in the state.

The forum of intellectuals with a time-bound mandate to address the multiple crises faced by the country and society could be quite successful if other key state actors, like the military, judiciary and political forces, fully back the forum and the movement of intellectuals to study and provide solutions to come out of the deep morass. Moreover, the exigent forum and movement of intellectuals shall take extra-care to handle the situation with complete seriousness and sincerity. The intellectuals would do a great job to suggest viable, practicable or doable solutions to address the multi-dimensional crisis in the country. Now the movement of intellectuals should start with initial joint meetings of academics, journalists and lawyers and then a workable plan of action must be devised.

The government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which has generally failed to govern the country desirably, must put all its weight behind the idea of a time-bound and need-specific forum and movement of intellectuals so that its own task of governance becomes easier. In this respect, it must be advised that the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has now to think beyond personal and political interest to address the multi-dimensional crisis in the country.