The geek’s guide to trouble-shooting Pakistan

I am a certified computer geek. I think and speak in computer lingo. I view the world and its affairs in terms of computer systems and networks. Recently I started drawing parallels between a nation-state and a computer operating system. State machinery needs to be built in the same systematic and delicate way a processor does. To build a usable computer system that is stable, secure and compatible with other (different) systems on the network, we need to ensure that a few basic things are done properly and systematically. Everything needs to be done in a proper sequence and if something does not work properly, it has to be corrected there and then, otherwise it can create serious problems in the future. What you need is a vision, a plan and the expertise to ensure that what you are building is efficient, secure and anticipates all future requirements. It should have the ability to link with other computers and additional hardware as demand and workload increase.

Provided that we have all the basic hardware connected, the first step in making a computer functional is to:

Create Disk Partition:

Prepare your computer hard disk drive and define its parameters so that it can be used to install an Operating System (OS) and later populate the remaining free space with program installations and data.

One disk drive can have multiple partitions. This allows better data management and more efficient performance. It is especially useful if we want to keep different types of files under different and separate sections on the disk drive.

This is like getting a piece of land. The land has to be of a very good quality so it can be used productively. In political science parlance, we need a geographically sound piece of land that is large enough to support a large growing population. It should have rivers, mountains, forests, coastlines, etc so that development work can be done there. Then this land needs to be managed and to manage it we need to create sections or partition it in smaller but logical divisions based on how it will be used and who will use it.

Operating System:

A large application that controls hardware in the most efficient manner, allows other useful programs to run on the machine to perform useful tasks and allows you to connect external hardware to your computer systems provided you have the correct and compatible drivers.

If an incompatible OS is force installed on some hardware there will be serious operating issues and probably a hardware failure and crash.

The operating system is like a country’s ideology and constitution. A country with a hospitable environment gets quickly inhabited by lots of people. These people develop their own set of values over time and are part of the hardware, just like the country’s land and other physical resources. Unless the ideology and the constitution are compatible with the land, resources and the people living there, there will always be in conflict. Therefore every country must have its own stable OS… sorry constitution.

To protect the ideology we create a constitution, a set of laws that ensure that the land, its people, their honour and their material wealth will be protected from external and internal threats, that all those responsible for the well being of the country will perform their duties at an institutional and individual level to the best of their abilities with national interest as their highest priority.

Driver:

A small program that contains instructions, so that the OS can recognize the attached device and use it. It’s like a letter to the OS saying who the external device is, what it can do, who made it and what it will need from the OS.

Sometimes certain parts or components are not fully integrated with the OS. This is because these components have certain properties which require additional resources, privileges and additional program codes to work under the OS. A device driver does this job. The better the coding of the driver the better will be the integration of the device.

All people are not the same, all cultures are not the same but that does not mean that they cannot live and work together. With a little extra effort, better formulated policies, awareness and integration, cultural and religious differences can be overcome. But to do this the main OS (ideology and constitution) must be stable and well designed. Pakistan has tried to maintain stability among different ethnicities sometimes by force and sometimes by giving material compensation. Instead of building the nation, integrating all parts of the country and trying to understand grievances of people, the opposite of all that was done. Today Pakistan is facing self created problems which have led to serious security issues. The only way to resolve these issues is to connect with these people and make them feel and realize that they are not forgotten or ignored and to resolve their internal issues and eradicate problematic entities that might be creating conflict within the State.

Once the main OS installation is complete and all hardware drivers are correctly installed, we have a nice, clean and stable computer system. But a computer is useful only if it can perform useful functions. To achieve our desired objectives we need to install specialized programs and applications like word editor, spreadsheets and anything else that will help us with our work. But programs and applications are only useful if we know how to use run them and use them efficiently.

A country that does not invest wisely in industry that suits its people and geography often suffers. Just like we have to carefully research which program applications to install on a computer, we have to be precise and thorough when setting up the infrastructure and industry. From power generation units that will produce the energy to the industrial projects that will consume that energy, all has to be in sync with one another. A country that cannot manage this balance can become unstable and crash.

Pakistan had a good start in building its energy sector as well as setting up industry. Unfortunately poor governance, corruption, institutional collapse and interests of individuals surpassing national interest have resulted in a collapse of the energy sector, failing industry, an economic downturn and social unrest. It’s a case of good program applications being run by bad program operators, and then installing bad applications which just don’t run and many of these bad applications also seem to be infected with viruses, spyware and malware!

Viruses, Spyware & Malware

There are two ways to keep a system completely secure 1.) keep it off the network and never setup or install anything on it or 2.) learn how to deal with the threats that come in the form of viruses, spyware and malware. Antivirus, system monitoring and regular cleaning are some common methods employed to keep the system “relatively” clean

A country which shares borders with other unfriendly countries needs to take precautions so that no cross border incursions occur. Many countries in such a predicament try to physically secure their borders by employing various methods. But sometimes a country’s terrain and cross border ethnicities do not allow for traditional border sealing methods to be employed, such borders remain porous. Pakistan’s western border has been one such problem. With unmonitored cross-border movement of undesirable elements, internal security situation has been getting worse and worse. Pakistan must come up with a strategy to secure its Western and North Western borders with Afghanistan. This will not only stop militant infiltration and cross border raids on Pakistan’s security forces but a lot of illegal trade can also be controlled.

With borders secured, Pakistan can then concentrate on building its relations with regional states based on trust and backed by a solid secure foreign policy

Getting on the Network

A computer running in isolation is not that useful or productive as compared to computers which are connected and can exchange information. Since there are many different computers running many different Operating Systems, a network interface is required so that the computers can communicate with one another. You might say that network interface is like the foreign policy of a country.

A country with a good foreign policy can build relations with other countries and bolster its trade, economy, defence etc. In today’s world all progressive countries try to collaborate and cooperate with each other to boost and safeguard their national interests. Countries with weak foreign policies become isolated and get left behind. A country’s foreign policy should be independent of its ideology and constitution as long as neither the ideology nor the constitution suffers. Unfortunately Pakistan has always given its “confused ideology” preference over its national interests and hence its foreign policy has suffered. progressive foreign policy, we have continued to follow a path of isolation.

They say the geeks shall inherit the Earth. I say why not, we have it all figured out pretty well. Maybe Pakistan’s governance should be handed over to people who understand the importance of a well oiled and functioning system, rather than view the country as a cash cow, there to be milked for all its worth.

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