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    Citizen Voices

    Empathy Is The Solution To Pakistan’s Financial, Political, And Counterterror Challenges

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    Empathy for the poor is lacking in Pakistan’s public policy. Instead of petty bickering over political issues, which has resulted in nothing but internal and external disruption, it is time to think on empathic development.

    The philosophy of empathy requires understanding others’ pain by stepping into their shoes to envisage their miseries and fears. All human beings are more or less the same, especially in political and social interests, and once we realise this, we would not want to inflict pain on others for short-term benefits — something our politicians need to learn.

    Empathy will not only reduce political temperatures, but also help the performance of state functionaries. All legal, political, and administrative responsibilities will be dealt effectively. Once empathy is encouraged, politicians are likelier to understand the problems of the poor. The philosophy of empathy can sow the seeds of love even in the barren hearts of our political leaders.

    After all, empathy is what democratic culture is all about: both the government and opposition sit together for policymaking, which cannot be finalised without empathy for the public.

    For the sake of public good, it is necessary for the government to tone down its invective language, which is likelier to happen if empathy is embraced. That, of course, requires politicians from both sides to sit together and be proactive in collaboration, and effective in execution. Instead, we see MNAs throwing budget copies at each other during budget sessions to emphasise that they are not on the same page. In such a polarised political environment, one cannot expect empathetic development in the national discourse.

    Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly said his government is on the same page with the establishment. That is good for any state, but is it necessary to put all opposition leaders behind bars to prove the claim?

    Power hungriness has brought the system to a point that dehumanising and targeting opposition members is considered a political tactic. This reflects an executive behavior steeped in self-serving bias, lacking empathy for legitimate political actions.

    Without empathy, chaos overwhelms governance. The Dasu incident, and the kidnapping of the Afghanistan envoy’s daughter, saw haphazard governmental responses, underlining Pakistan’s internal and external challenges. The insensitive reaction to the kidnapping, and dubbing the Dasu incident a ‘cylinder blast’, shows a clear lack of empathy.

    Whether the relation is government-opposition, executive-establishment, or domestic- international politics, empathy is needed. From the financially downtrodden and terror victims, to state institutions and political opponents, empathising is the only way Pakistan can progress.

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