Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has stated that Pakistan challenges are embedded in key global changes as the country navigates the new millennium. He was giving an address at the Oxford University. Bilawal remarked that the first change is the rise of the anti-globalist. Bilawal’s address: You can see this as a citizen that sees himself free of universalist norms, or the rights-based global order that attempted to govern the world through an architecture of rights and institutions. Arguably this global order was hegemonic and extractive in its tilt towards the West. But it strove to define itself through rights-based regimes evolved at global forums. Countries took multilateralism seriously, as well as the potential shelter from exploitation that institutions such as the UN were at least theoretically premised on. But as globalism produced its own dystopias, today you see the Post World-War II order slipping away. In Europe and America, and here in Britain, we see it as a surge of populism and ultra-nationalism, where exclusion has become the first order of self-protection. Frankly, populism used to not be such an ugly word in what was once called the Third World. It was associated perhaps wrongly, with leadership that deals more in the symptoms of democracy than in its actual practice. No democrat, self professed or otherwise has not been guilty of some. Yet the new millennium, with its restless search for identity, and recognition of group over universally defined rights, has changed the way we think, as well as talk about each other. Let’s take the West. September 11 created architecture of global counter-terror which has run away with our global bill of rights. Renditions, off-shore prisons, black sites, intel based arrests have become the order of the day. Rights we have allowed to slip away on our watch. Anger has become the political currency for stagnating lifestyles and unmet expectations. My concern is South Asia, and of course Pakistan, which, like many centres of the world, is becoming a more illiberal place as we lurch into the next decade without a common regional plan. As Asia integrates with Europe, driven largely by the huge Belt and Road Initiative by China, we in South Asia are busy entrenching ourselves in the language and weapons of hate. With challenges such as climate change, cyber-security and terrorism obliterating borders, we are fighting 21st century battles with the last century’s tools. Despite compelling arguments for connectivity, Pakistan and India remain bitter enemies, defined by old wars and new fault lines of mistrust, instead of trade and job dividends. I won’t even say the B-word, but Britain’s first (Br)exit from South Asia has left Pakistan with the baggage of a dispute at the heart of its external security problem. As Kashmir pivots to core flashpoint for local insurgencies against years of ruthless Indian state-terror, we have to ask ourselves what will happen to the dream of connectivity for South Asia? How long will one-fifth of humanity become hostage to the fires of extremism and now, rampaging Modi-led Hindutva populism. My mother always used to say that if rights and laws, which are the instruments of a strong democracy, don’t provide enough protection, don’t try to fight insecurity with repression. Fight it with the tools of democracy: which are more rights, institutionalized frameworks for conflict-resolution, and enhancements in the rule of law, and inclusion as well as egalitarianism. Take terrorism for instance. I’m afraid the way most Westerners tackle terrorism both at home and abroad is dangerously outdated. Violent extremism and the growth of exclusionary ideologies put great pressure on the modern state. Yet it is also clear that kinetic or single-state solutions will never halt the tide. Pakistan has no shortage of commitment on the effort against extremism, militancy or terrorism today. It is impossible to open all fronts at one time, especially given the conflict in Afghanistan constantly spilling over into Pakistan both twenty years ago, and once again today. So this is a capacity issue as much as a sequencing challenge, and we often feel we are fighting this long battle with one hand tied behind our backs. At the same time I agree that we must put our shoulder to the wheel of fighting exclusion on a much broader basis than we do today. Terrorism can no longer be fought as a military or kinetic battle alone. It cannot ignore extremism, intolerance, hate and the crisis at the heart of capitalism that we are all experiencing. No country can call itself democratic or progressive if it leaves millions behind without a promise of socially responsible state. I strongly feel that in these difficult times, like the world, Pakistan needs a genuine, progressive voice. My mission is just that: to introduce a progressive alternative to the populist and hate-driven politics many in the world have gotten used to. Today, human rights violations, terrorism, inequality, climate change, disorient the world we knew. We are now in a time of change and technological disruption, arguably, like nothing we have ever seen before. The challenges we are facing have evolved with us. Discontent and disorder often bring out the worst in mankind and the initial reaction when faced with adversity or shrinking resources is to look inward, but we must face these challenges instead of looking away from them. The borderless nature of the challenges we face today will force us to unite. Let us not unite only when the crisis has caused incalculable loss. Let us use these trying times as a chance to reflect and re-evaluate our values. There is no other way out of it. Despite critical fiscal and resource deficits our government in 2008 invested in deepening fundamental freedoms for the media and judiciary. Today, the media, particularly, is in a transition that sets its ability to speak truth to power at risk the world over. Unfortunately in Imran Khans Pakistan freedom of speech and freedom of the press are under unprecedented attack. The peoples party however, have a clear commitment to restoring and enhancing those freedoms, but also to deepening democracy. None of it is rocket science. Regulation must not be confused with censorship. Parliament too must be treated with the respect and centrality due weight in a functional democracy. The tax base must be widened to rid ourselves of the chronic debt economy, and the resource-pie must be distributed more equitably. The poor that are food insecure must have access to food, jobs and shelter as well as fundamental rights. Access to good schooling and public health must not be divided by class or other divides. Citizens that live outside urban centres, especially in tribal peripheries, must be heard, must be given more rights. But all of this will take time. Published in Daily Times, February 22nd 2019.