(A time to rebuild the Nation)
Brigadier (R) Samson Simon Sharaf
As witnessed in
But what is this Civil Society? It appears as a loose term to describe activities outside the ambit of the state machinery. The Pakistani media has confined it to describe the non governmental reaction led by lawyers to the sacking of the Chief Justice of Pakistan while President Zardari refers to it as political jokers.
For philosophers like Georg Hegel and the revolutionary theorist Karl Marx, civil society was an inclusive concept of ‘society minus the state’. The philosophers and political scientists of the enlightenment opine that origins of the concept of civil society lie in key phases of modernity wherein philosophy and political economy began to distinguish systematically between the spheres of state and society. In the twentieth century the development of civil society is seen as a significant criterion of the development of democracy. The fact that no two social scientists agree on a common definition reflects the reality that in each culture, civil society is a reflection of the traditions, conventions and codes of behaviour outside the legal hierarchal structure of the state.
But South Asia in general and
The many ancient civilisations of
Pakistani society inherited a strong tradition of progressive citizen organisations with their roots in culture, tradition and Islamic philanthropy. All India Muslim League and ‘Idea of Pakistan’ evolved out of the civic movement of Muhammadan Education Conference. The concept of the modern nation-state introduced by the British crystallised the notion of
In a resource starved post 1947
This descent to black holes has been chaotic and damaging. Bhutto’s populism deprived civic organisations of maximum space and rather strengthened elites and primordial forces. People reacted by low turnouts in elections, invitation to military interventions and formation of a non committal silent majority. The result has been a critical deficit in social capital particularly towards human resource development and organisational accountability. There has also been a massive exodus reflected in the views of Pakistani Diaspora spread world over.
But there are brave hearts. LUMS, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust Hospital, Orangi Pilot Project, the Edhi Trust, the Al-Shifa Trust, Sahara for Life Trust, Layton-Rahmatulla Benevolent Trust, the Citizens Foundation, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Riphah University, FC College, Christian missionary institutions and thousands of other smaller, little known philanthropic and public service organizations and NGOs are examples that all Pakistanis are not silent.
Most recently, the reaction of civil society to the 2005 earthquake and translocation of people from Swat was outstanding. The entire country and civic organisations swarmed to the troubled areas with whatever assistance they could bring. During all suicide bombings and shootouts, volunteers and ambulances of the civil society out number the official recue efforts.
Pakistani civil society is still alive and vibrant. The people of