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Systemic failure

Friday, Feb 23, 2024

My phone was snatched earlier this week, just a couple of meters away from the gate of a police station in Peshawar. Pakistan stands at a crossroads. A new government struggles to emerge, political factions bicker for power, and a young, unemployed generation simmers with desperation. In this cauldron, petty theft becomes a symptom, not a disease. We condemn the thieves, yes, but can we ignore the system that fails them? Youth unemployment runs rampant, opportunity a mirage shimmering above parched hope. Blaming those who turn to crime out of desperation is easier than addressing the systemic failures that push them to it.

This isn’t about absolving individuals. Choices have consequences, even desperate ones. But let us not pretend this is purely an individual failing. When law enforcement shirks its responsibility, when politicians prioritize power grabs over public welfare, when the institutions play their own games, the ground beneath ordinary citizens becomes treacherous. Each citizen, myself included, must confront our role in this equation. Did we choose wisely? Did we speak out against injustices? Did we demand better? The thief who snatched my phone is a symptom, a product of a broken system. But the system wasn’t built in a vacuum. It reflects the collective choices, actions, and inactions of a nation. Until we rise to the challenge of demanding and actively building a better system, incidents like mine will remain mere symptoms of a deeper societal malaise.

Asghar Khan

Peshawar