The most powerful and enduring ideas also happen to be the oldest. Ideas like justice, unity and genuine democracy, ideas that have stood the test of time. The secret of a civilisation’s success as well as their rise and fall are interlinked with these very same values. This is confirmed in the Islamic holy book Quran and Allah says: “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” (chapter 13, verse 11).
That statement, however, did not come true for Pakistan. Pakistan’s economy improved significantly between the years 2000 and 2007 and Pakistan managed to reduce its external liabilities and debt by half; from 52% of GDP to 26% of GDP.
Image source: Pakistan Finance Ministry
Unfortunately, this success was only temporary, as the current debt ratio of Pakistan is back to 54.99% of GDP. Pakistan’s economy improved during the military rule, from 1999 to 2008, thereafter the corruption and debt returned along with the civilian rulers.
The question remains why Pakistan failed to succeed in achieving its goals of becoming a debt-free country? Obviously, Pakistan was well on its way to rid itself of the incapacitating debt problem. So why did Pakistan’s condition not change? Why did Allah’s words not come true for Pakistan? After all, Pakistan is a Muslim state.
The answers are to be found in history, to be particular in two locations; the city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia and England. The two most important events in history are the Hilf al-Fudoul in 585 AD, an agreement between the ruling elites of Makkah (when Prophet Muhammad (phuh) was just 15 years old) and the Magna Carta, a charter agreed to by King John of England, in the year 1215 AD, later also embodied in the American Constitution. The purpose of both of these agreements was to recognise and protect the rights of the weak and destitute. In both cases, the ruling elite agreed to change their own misbehaviour and to protect the rights of the weak. My thesis is that recognising and protecting the rights of the weak is a prerequisite for lasting prosperity.
Since perennial prosperity comes into existence much later, after viable justice has been reinstated in the land, it is plausible that Pakistanis must have gotten mixed up between cause and effect. Justice is a cause and prosperity is the after effect.
England continues to be rewarded by Allah for the Islamic values it practices like justice, equality and welfare for its citizens. Whereas Pakistan is Islamic only by name, and corruption is rife in every stratum of its society. The poor can only hope for justice while the corrupt elite rule over the country like thugs and gangsters. According to the 2015 least corrupt world countries ranking, Pakistan scores 117 /175.
There is no doubt that Pakistan’s problems are of its own making, and as long as it’s citizens are denied justice then unity, prosperity and success shall remain impossible goals; separation of Bangladesh (former East Pakistan) is a lesson worth pondering over.
Allah knows best.