My grandson welcome to Pakistan. I am sorry Zayd my generation has failed to give you a society that it could have been and has the potential to be.
Last Wednesday when you were born, there must have been birth of roughly another 8700 babies in the country. And approximately 2610 of these were born to the families who survive below the subsistence level.
You may be the one of the privileged babies who were born with best of healthcare and in cozy air-conditioned environment. But alas a great majority of the babies are born in this country in unhygienic home environment, without the help of qualified medical assistance. Still many mothers die while giving birth to their child because of inadequate health facilities.
You are born to an educated family and hopefully would have an access to good education. But unfortunately almost every second person in this country is left uneducated. Literacy is improving but at a snail pace. Living conditions of the poor are getting better but trickle by trickle.
You are born in the family where humanism rules over all kinds of prejudices. But sadly poverty, inequality and extremism is breeding intolerance in our society day in day out. The dispossessed are brainwashed to blow them up taking lives of many innocents in the hope of heavenly pleasures.
A few months after your father Adarsh was born in 1978, I was told by Alan Chalkley at a workshop on population planning that to know in how much time Pakistan’s population would double just divide 70 by the rate of growth. I did it immediately and found out that there would be another Pakistan to feed in 23 years time. I dreaded this population explosion as I could see that the society would burst at seams by the time your father would come in practical life. As population growth rate slowed down in this period the moment of commotion was delayed. Still it came, and is here now.
But don’t you worry my child there are some silver linings on the horizon also. At the present rate the population would double when you will be 35. The likelihood is you will even older as the population rate is bound to slow down further.
When you will grow up and read this you might think your Dada was a compulsive optimist. But I have not lost hope for my country. I still feel that the next 20 years would change Pakistan for better. Yes, in near future, when you will be still too young to understand a lot is going wrong. There will be noisy political tussle, rise in inequality, backlash from the obscurantists who are resisting the inevitable globalisation of culture and thought, more terrorist outbursts and crumbling law and order.
But there are positive developments also. Pakistan has started harvesting the demographic dividend. The working age population has out-numbered the dependents. You will grow up to enter in practical life say around 2032-03. The whole world opportunities will be open to you and your generation, thanks to globalisation. World would be in advanced knowledge age. Even if the government here is slow in delivering, the young working age population would lead the country to a prosperous and democratic future.
But as you grow up remember the less fortunate. Remember we have to build a Pakistan where love, tolerance and economic democracy flourishes. Remember that your great grandparents downward the family traditions we have followed are:
Ø That we have to be good human being first and last;
Ø That we have to look down and feel the pain of the dispossessed;
Ø That we hold no prejudices on the basis of religion, caste, creed, sex and ethnicity;
Ø That skepticism leads to inquiry and search of truth;
Ø That knowledge is the only asset that cannot be robbed from you and there is never enough of it;
Ø That honesty and positive attitude towards life always pays back;
Ø And that it’s more important to value these values than loose them in desperate pursuit of wealth.
I hope one day you will read it my child and take time out to think over the only meaningful inheritance, I have for you. (firstname.lastname@example.org)