by Aamir Ghauri
Imagine living in a state that treats its citizens like chattel; where law grinds the poor and rich men rule the law; where scumdog billionaires feast on national coffer on routine; where clergy judges and acts for God; where young men are lured and tamed for blowing up humans; where military generals cower for security; where judges loot and plunder; where fields fail to feed the farmers; where industrious remain unemployed; where educated are mocked; where women are considered good enough only to be womanized; where children grow up without hope; and most importantly, where rulers howl about the state’s impending demise on daily basis. Then imagine that that woebegone state is called Pakistan – the land of the pure.
In the last 20 odd years, I have spoken to many who experienced 1947. Pakistan for them was a dream worth chasing. They bunked school, walked, cycled or boarded lorries to attend public congregations in towns many miles from their homes and shouted slogan something like “Yes We Can”. And they definitely did. Today, these old men and women feel retreated, cheated and defeated by their own rulers. This was not the Pakistan that burnt in their youthful souls like a flame blazing hot. For them it was not Jinnah’s Pakistan. It was to be their very own Pakistan for which they were ready to lay their lives, abandon their prized possessions. And in Jinnah, they found the best advocate possible.
In a broadcast recorded in February 1948 that was meant for the American public, Mohammad Ali Jinnah hoped the nation state he created out of nothingness would blossom: “The constitution of Pakistan has yet to be framed by the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. I do not know what the ultimate shape of this constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam. Today, they are as applicable in actual life as they were 1300 years ago. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of man, justice and fairplay to everybody. We are the inheritors of these glorious traditions and are fully alive to our responsibilities and obligations as framers of the future constitution of Pakistan. In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims — Hindus, Christians, and Parsis — but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.”
Just over six decades later, Pakistanis start their days in gloom and doom. The 24 news television channels bend backward to inform them of suicide bombings, terrorist atrocities and impending disasters. The hopes are of international loans and charitable donations lest the mad, maniac mullahs nurtured by the state itself took over its prized nuclear assets and destroy the world peace. What a shame! What happened to those history lessons parroted in schools, colleges and universities of wisdom, glory and grandeur that was supposed to be ours as inheritors of the great mix of Arab, Turkic, Moguls, Afghan and Persian traditions? Why idealize South Indian ruler like Tippu Sultan who preferred to live like a tiger for a day than live like a jackal for a hundred years if we were to shut up to American drone attacks that have killed over 700 innocent Pakistanis in a matter of months.
Images of humans selling their sons and daughters in the bazaars of Pakistan are a testimony that the rulers of the country are wicked, mean and monstrous. It is a country that can feed many more millions for many more centuries if managed properly. But I don’t know why Tippu Sultan comes to mind again for writing to his amildars (revenue officials) in 1788: “Agriculture is the life-blood of the nation. This land, rich and fertile, will reward those that work on it. Famine and want are either the result of sloth and ignorance or of corruption.” A year later he told his courtiers: “There can be no glory or achievement if the foundation of our palaces, roads and dams are mingled with the tears and blood of humanity…”
Today, Pakistan’s so-called leaders want to rule by terrorizing their own people. They tell us that many Balochis are bad and want to repeat a 1971 in their attempt to create Greater Baluchistan; many Pathans are sly as they long for Greater Pukhtoonistan; many Sindhis are devious as they dream of Sindhudesh; many Mohajirs want an independent Jinnahpur; many Seraikis are prone to fall under Taliban spell. And the rumour machines do not just stop there. Our neighbours like India, Afghanistan, and Iran have evil designs about us too. So do our trusted friends like the United States and the United Kingdom. And don’t forget the Russians who desire to settle old scores because we sided with the Americans during the Cold War or “we” defeated them in the glorious Afghan war of the last century. The bloody war that has turned out to be such a nightmare for all of Pakistanis that we wish those millions of Afghans still living among us since 1979 get up and leave for their own country where that stooge of a character called Karzai is still sitting tight with the American blessing. Ask any Pakistani and they would yell to tell that Pakistan will be much better off without those Afghans who have brought nothing but pain and misery to millions of Pakistanis. I am mindful of their pains too but it is time for them to leave. They are much more needed in their own country. For us they are only a dangerous liability.
But what to do with our coward politicians because leaders they are not. Leaders do not tell their peope that their country is about to dissolve or facing extinction. On the contrary, leaders give hope in the worst of circumstances. What we have is a bunch of nincompoops who love hovering around television networks waiting to be invited to talk shows so that they can be seen by their party heads as the “in crowd”. They blabber about subjects beyond their brainwaves and go back to the truckloads of committees formed by the government to deal with the problems of a common man. They are proverbial monkeys with swords who could only create chaos and deliver damage. Those who have not or can not run a kitchen are running a complex country and that also not by deed but by speak. The great Chinese thinker, philosopher Laozi must be thinking of these Pakistani politicians when he said 2600 years ago, “those who have knowledge do not speak. Those who speak do not have knowledge.”
While Pakistan passes through another difficult phase of its history with the weakest possible rulers running amok, hope is clutching on to a few figures and a vibrant youth that believes they could succeed if directed meaningfully. The ball is in the court of Pakistani media that is hopelessly public relation-oriented and fears to tread beyond the given. It needs to focus away from ratings and harness its anchors that bask in the heroics of cowardice. They need to check these doom and gloom mongering politicians. Playing for the powerful does not makes one powerful. It is playing for the powerless that wins one perpetuity. We can only remind those in power in Pakistan today what the Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus said over two thousand years ago that “power without wisdom collapses under its own weight”.
The article was assessed from this website: http://pkpolitics.com/2009/05/05/language-of-cowardice/
Amir Ghauri is a London based political analyst and he can be reached at email@example.com