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Why Do Systems Fail?

A star-spangled group of concerned citizens of various ilk have recently launched a campaign for peace and harmony in the country, particularly in Karachi, by putting their weight behind a mass appeal in the form of a major rally organised by the Mir Khalilur Rahman Society in Karachi and a separate campaign in the media. Opposition parliamentarians led by Mian Nawaz Sharif simultaneously organised an All Parties Conference (APC) in the city. On the surface terrorism’s immediate reaction to this was gunning down of one of the participants, the outspoken Editor of Takbeer, Muhammad Salahuddin. While the actual perpetrator of this ghastly assassination remains a matter of conjecture as late Salahuddin had many enemies (including those whom he had exposed as being corrupt), this vicious repudiation of the combined voice of reason underscores a deep apprehension of impending doom, a refrain heard alike in the drawing rooms of the elite and the tea-stalls of the impoverished, hovering like an ominous dark cloud over the minds of our citizenry. It is almost as if we are willing ourselves into becoming prisoners of our worst nightmares. This deterioration of the national fabric into anarchy, very much visible all around us in every institution of any note, can be solely and wholly blamed on the various permutations and combinations of small coterie in Pakistan that has always wielded power, whether in or out of authority. It is not surprising that these people conveniently remain blind and deaf to what’s happening to this country but do not fail to spout rhetoric far divorced from reality as to the reasons. The elected and the selected, with sometimes little difference between the two, have generally put greed and career respectively (or both together) before their conscience i.e. they have operated on the basis of their selfish personal needs by putting their own welfare and contentment before the safety and comfort of the citizens they represent and/or are responsible for, seldom giving greater priority to the honour and glory of the country they profess to be loyal to.

In this degeneration process, the first factors that we give lip-service to are merit and accountability. Merit is suspect because nepotism has so undermined the process of upward mobility that anyone showing signs of above par excellence is considered dangerous and dealt with accordingly. Those who have reached the upper levels with little to show for ability ensure a vicious cycle where no “upstart” with any merit comes through the pecking order. In Pakistan, as in third world countries, character assassination by the help of motivated intelligence reports is the order of the day, bloody assassination a la Salahuddin takes place only where everything else fails. An endless blackmail is conducted by twisting facts and mixing it with fiction in order to wear down the patience of the victim till he (or she) simply gives up out of sheer frustration. How many voices have we seen silenced, how many brilliant careers have we seen going down the drain in this manner? From time to time fate intervenes to correct this imbalance but the broad momentum of nepotism is maintained to the detriment of those crucial leadership attributes which are a necessity at every level of society and discipline. When merit thus becoming a negative attribute for survival and advancement, how does one expect accountability which in any case is mostly selective because it is directed towards the “enemies” of the powers – that – be (i.e. whoever is in power at that precise moment)? Selective accountability focus undercuts its credibility, the basis of fact being eroded by its motivated interest in persecution for the sake of persecution, sometimes even as a revenge motive, rather than purely altruistic intentions to uphold the laws of the land. There is a conspiracy of silence that makes for a sort of a “Thieves Pact” not to really put each other into any inquisition until one crosses a particular fail-safe line. To be effective, the concept of accountability has to be blind, compromises makes the process ineffective. One of the reasons why we are in a holy mess is because we have systematically destroyed the integrity of the accountability process.