This year on Pakistan’s Independence, mend some Broken Windows Facebook Mixx StumbleUpon Technorati Tweet This 

August 14, 2009: Pakistan turns 62, and the Blaagers (name given to Paki bloggers) celebrate by Going Green and Trending #Pakistan on the Twitter Trends (similar to when we trended #PakCricket and Twitter was a Sea of Green). And while I was among those involved in this effort and fully supporting it these past days, a strange void was felt inside. A nagging thought that maybe Going Green and making it to the Trending Topics were feel good measures; a sense of Patriotism that rises up at occasions like this and then conveniently is put in storage for the next appropriate Pakistan Pride moment. We owe it to Pakistan to move beyond just superficial lip service to the ideals of Jinnah and our founding fathers. We must do something to stall the downward spiral we see our beloved country in.

I just finished reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell recently and one particular discussion in the book stuck with me: The Broken Windows theory. This thesis put forward by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in 1982 and further discussed by Kelling in his book Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities gives us a great insight on the problems Pakistan faces right now. We have essentially become a community where there are too many Broken Windows.

So just what is this theory?

Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.

Basically, the premise is that a Broken Window sends a negative signal and people start slowly treating the area around this Broken Window as rundown and derelict. The idea is that if you want to make a big change sometimes the best thing is to change seemingly trivial things. As these trivialities add up we reach a tipping point, and soon we know it the area is no more what it used to be.

Building Up Pakistan

So just what am I talking about? What windows are we breaking? Whether it is that 50 rupee note you slipped the policeman to avoid a ticket for talking on the cell while driving, or the fact that you just flaunted every traffic law that exists while driving an unregistered car without a driver’s licence. Or it is that empty Coke bottle you just threw from the car’s tinted windows.

Patriotism is not just about the paper flags you have decorated your street with, it is also about taking those flags down once the celebration is over. It is not about the huge flag on top of your house, it is also about removing that illegal and unislamic Kunda your house is running on. It is not about blaring National Anthems from your car stereo, it is about respecting the traffic laws as you do so. It is not just about being enraged at the disappearance of the Quaid’s photo from the President’s House, it is about living the ideals of the Quaid.

This year, on this Independence Day, let us resolve that we the Citizens of Pakistan will not shed our Patriotism when the clock strikes midnight. We will instead mend Broken Windows, clean up our mess, and implement the dreams and ideals on which Pakistan was founded on. And as pane after pane is fixed, we will Insha’Allah soon see Pakistan become Evergreen.

“It ain’t easy being Green” – Kermit The Frog

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18 thoughts on “This year on Pakistan’s Independence, mend some Broken Windows”

  1. Agree 100%

    “The idea is that if you want to make a big change sometimes the best thing is to change seemingly trivial things.”

    This report is UK centric, but am sure some of the research knowledge can be applied to Pakistan.


    This report is about the good life: the good life that is possible if people, business and government all share responsibility to open the way to new solutions.

    These drawings are by ordinary people who worked with us in our research. They are a selection of the positive dreams and aspirations people have for their future life and for the well-being of their loved ones.

    With the right imagination and application, the conditions can be right for all to live a good life and fulfil these aspirations, sometimes in new and smarter ways. And we can do so with the essential bonus of living in ways that are sustainable so that they generate quality of life for all, and for good. This report is dedicated to that opportunity.


    1. @ Jehanzeb: Some1 said “be the change you want to see in the world”

      The first step starts with us not criticizing our society or our leaders but by criticizing ourselves.


  2. MashaAllah, nicely written & timely too! We could hear fireworks & our lights started fluctuating just a few minutes ago…..and I thought….well! 14th Aug has nearly passed….back to the load shedding, violence etc. This is how we show our patriotism; national songs, fireworks, illumination, public holiday, azadi marches, flags, empty slogans, etc etc all on the 14th to show our solidarity & back to business/ the usual mess the next day….pretty sad state of affairs. People should read your post & wake up & smell the coffee & do something concrete…thank you & God Bless.


    1. Zartaj Apa

      The post is actually 5 years old. I posted it because what I wrote then is still the need of the hour. We dust off our patriotism for a day or so and then it is just back to the old routine. It is the same mentality as the 27th Ramadan Muslims. Nothing the whole year then an overload of prayers and what not. It is time we moved past being 14th August Pakistanis and be Pakistani every day.


  3. I absolutely agree & am sad that this post is valid even after 5 years. When will we start mending our broken windows? Sorry, I used this forum to vent but it is just so frustrating to see us wasting our valuable resources (read time, energy, electricity, gas etc) to show our patriotism when we can use the same to help our country inshaAllah.


    1. It is sad indeed. We do have some segments working on repairing broken windows – in the form of NGOs like (and not limited to) Edhi, TCF, Aman Foundation, etc. But the government and society at large is still not in that mode.


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