Beyond redemption?

Beyond redemption? - By Babar Sattar
The News, February 13, 2010
The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad.

Why is it that most people in Pakistan don't sound hopeful about the future, wondered the visiting head of an international research and development organisation, in a recent conversation. Are we really depressed as a nation? A bystander dispassionately observing our public discourse as well as cocktail conversations would probably argue that we seem to be reinforcing our collective sense of despondency. If you belong to the upcoming generation smitten with optimism (which the seniors lovingly call naiveté) and refuse to be cowed into defeatism, there are at least four theories that explain this phenomenon.

The first, and a personal favourite, is the incorrigible state of cynicism afflicting our older generation presently in control of the levers of socio-political change. This is the generation that was born around the time of Pakistan's independence, grew up in an independent country, got accustomed to the back and forth between military dictatorships and malfunctioning civilian autocracies, endorsed expediency as the omnipotent political and professional ethic and hypocrisy as the means to deal with questionable social, cultural and religion-inspired norms. There are exceptions, of course, to be credited for keeping the ship afloat and offering hope and solace to the youth.

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