What is to be done…

As part of my morning regimen (read drudgery), I have been scanning half a dozen local English dailies for the last few hours. I find something in common in almost all the Editorial/Opinion pages of these dailies (including this newspaper’s). The subjects being discussed in editorials or opinion pieces are the same: Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf, deposed judges, democracy in Pakistan, ‘crises’ (which range from rising militancy to soaring inflation, from energy debacle to oil crisis, etc.) facing down the barrel, called, my country. Well, pardon me dear readers, but I will be committing the sin of touching upon the same topics, albeit a bit differently – which by the way sounds like a clichéd dialogue spouted by scores of pedestrian Lollywood movie producers/directors/actors/actresses, engaged in the lowly business of making a rehashed version of a gazillion Bollywood movies and then claiming, “Ismay kuch different dekhne ko milega public ko” (The public would get to see something different in this). I certainly hope that my readers do not strangle me for taking this ‘liberty’ and boring them to death. But hear me out first.

Soon Mr Asif Ali Zardari will become our president (in case he does not, we can shoot all the political pundits at that point of the Constitution Avenue where it offers a glimpse of that Saudi-funded sacrosanct icon in broad daylight), and then the ‘political’ bickering will reach its crescendo (though it will not make any significant difference since the Pakistani ears are quite used to such oddities). The deposed judges would be restored in parts (reminds one of Umer Sharif’s infamous stage drama, Bakra Kiston Pe), maybe even the deposed CJ finds that lost chunk of fortune and finds himself presiding over the seat of justice (along with the present CJ, which would beget the term “dove-tailed twins”). The rumours are also doing rounds about the formation of a ‘United’ Pakistan Muslim League (the Leaguers would be doing the nation a great favour since it is hard to keep up with the Ns, Fs, Qs and what-nots, thus we are all for a United PML). Hopefully, it will simply be called the Pakistan Muslim League (in case it does not hurt the egos of some of our ‘beloved and bloated’ leaders). The PML would be sitting on the Opposition benches and raising a ruckus (obviously against the Presidency and the Parliament). Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain would be asking everyone to ‘mitti pao te kulcha khao’ (he can afford to do that since he owns some flour mills) while Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi would be talking about the ending of honeymoons and the beginning of monsoons (and also mocking anything and everything). The Sharif brothers would be the men in waiting.

Now let’s talk of some of our veteran political ‘leaders’. First comes the Maulana of DI Khan – Maulana Fazlur Rehman – who would remain the darling of every man/woman in power. He does not change loyalties; he is loyal to each and every government. Next comes our cricketer-turned-social worker-turned-politician, Mr Imran Khan. Since Imran Khan has done to death the ‘Musharraf must go’ mantra – and also since Mushy ji has actually left us in peace – and the judges issue too would have been solved (read dissolved) by then, he would now rant about why Zardari is not fit to be the president, how this government is not doing anything for the masses and only doing the bidding of the US. One would actually love to ask him how does he think the problems of this nation can be solved if he comes to power, which by the way is impossible since his party is a one-man show and unless you are in the army, you cannot come to power through this formula. And that reminds one... the other day someone asked me a very interesting question. He asked, “Can you name three members of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI)?” And I tried and tried valiantly to think of anyone else other than Imran Khan, but failed. Imran Khan has such a narcissist stranglehold on his party that he has not let anyone else come to the forefront. So, does he really think that he can actually come to power if he continues this way and then solve the nation’s problems? He is living in a paradise fit only for born-agains if he really believes this. Also, our dear Mr Khan is no better than the Qazis (of ‘zaalimo, Qazi araha hai’ fame). Despite Mr Khan’s ‘liberal’ credentials (which by the way solely apply to his own exalted person and no one else), he is a mullah up there (here I do not mean any disrespect to the theologians or the learned scholars of Islam, but am referring to those so-called ‘ulema’ who do not know the alif-bay of Islam and yet have appointed themselves as the ‘custodians’ of our faith). When talking of Mr Khan, how can we not talk of the erstwhile Qazi Hussain Ahmed. That would be a great disservice to the fun-starved readers. Qazi saheb is indeed a man of contradictions. On the one hand he is a diehard fan of military dictators (let’s not forget that he is indeed a spin-off from the Ziaul Haq regime), and on the other hand, Qazi saheb depicted himself as the sworn enemy of General (retired) Musharraf. The same man who was granted legitimacy through the Legal Framework Order (LFO) by Qazi saheb’s former party, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). Qazi ji sure knows which way the wind (read wind-fall) blows and changes his stance accordingly. If the public had not wanted Musharraf gone, Qazi would have sat silently. Since the public asked for Musharraf’s ouster, Qazi saheb followed the flux. In principle, he does not have anything against a military ruler, it is just the sort of military rulers who unsettle his Afghan kiosk a la Mr Musharraf whom Qazi does not like. Well, to each his own.

The nation would soon get tired of all this wrangling. To make matters worse, rising inflation and the worsening energy crisis would affect the countrymen/women so bad that they would soon be asking for an end of (Pakistani) democracy. But this won’t be (at least not for the time being). They would again go through the tiresome process of another general elections a few years down the road (not necessarily after 5 years, maybe sooner rather than later). This time we will see the PML back in action. The PML government, too, would fail to deliver. The nation would again beg for mercy from ‘democracy’ and this would give the army, which has nowadays taken a backseat in politics, the perfect ‘excuse’ – nay reason – to come back into politics with a vengeance. And then the cycle would continue: army, civilian government, maybe another civilian government, army again...

What can be done to avert this oft-repeated scenario? The nation needs a change: a change of leadership, another political party (a populist one at that). This party should be a party of the masses, a party with a vision for change. A party that would not only talk about the problems of the people, but would actually do something practical to bring about social reforms, and more importantly real change. Change is the buzzword here. And the change means a new economic paradigm, which bridges the class divide by introducing modern agriculture, industrial development and investment in human resource by heavy investments in quality education for all. My fellow citizens of all faiths and ethnicities deserve justice, life with dignity and a sense of fulfilment which only a new political force can offer them. Workers, peasants, small business entrepreneurs, teachers, office workers, those who run national businesses, all deserve protection and an environment for personal and institutional growth. I am hoping for a miracle and my najoomi baba tells me this miracle would soon take place. There are signs all over now. Some friends and colleagues I know in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad also dreamt of the same miracle. They want to realise it. So, dear readers, let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that this country breaks the vicious cycle narrated above in a lighter vein and with a heavy heart.


Anonymous said…
Ameen to that!

It would be nice to know a bit more about the programme and policy of this miracle that you talk about.... will be watching this space! :)
ayesha said…
Hear Hear!
Abdullah said…
I'd just like to address some of the statements you made in your post.

The premise of this comment is that I'm not an IK die-hard fan or a devoted irrational support. I would think that i'm somewhat of an objective thinker and know my way around logic.

"One would actually love to ask him how does he think the problems of this nation can be solved if he comes to power, which by the way is impossible since his party is a one-man show and unless you are in the army, you cannot come to power through this formula."

IK may not have all the answers or even a lot of answers to solving the nation's problems but I'm pretty sure that he, if he was the leader of this sordid nation, would not by default BE the problem. Thats been the case in the past, hasn't it? The problem is not the economy but the drivers behind it, the problem is not the war on terror but an extremely inept and unbelievably unqualified management we as shareholders seem to keep bringing back no matter how much loss they take our nation into. So the problems that we're facing today are a direct consequence of the actions or lack thereof of our past so-called-leaders. That would be missing if IK had some control. He'd do "something", "anything" to shake things up, to change the situation. He would absolutely make an effort. Do you see anything happening, right now? We seem to be dead in the water.

Well, the reason you don't know anyone in the PTI is well..maybe for one you haven't tried to find out. And two, PTI isn't given much publicity in the papers or the media if you haven't noticed. During the paija era, they were on a full blown media ban. But thats got very little to do with the issue at hand I guess. The elite of our country is the elite because they're, pre-dominantly, crooks. Crooks with mediocre spin doctors to massage their image into something that our dumbed down public easily swallows and doesn't think about it twice. Thats why the big names, the publicity, the sho sha, but crooks generally don't work with honest men, nor do honest men like to be seen in the company of crooks.

"Imran Khan has such a narcissist stranglehold on his party that he has not let anyone else come to the forefront. So, does he really think that he can actually come to power if he continues this way and then solve the nation’s problems?"

This above statement is based on the absurd assumption that he loves himself so much that he doesn't want to share the limelight of being the leader of a political party. What you're basically saying is that he's gotten himself into politics and made himself target to a number of dangerous individuals out there, Altaf Hussain for one, just so that he can get his mug posted on TV and have people talk about him? Thats just wrong. Thats belittling him as a person and his motivations.

"Also, our dear Mr Khan is no better than the Qazis (of ‘zaalimo, Qazi araha hai’ fame). Despite Mr Khan’s ‘liberal’ credentials (which by the way solely apply to his own exalted person and no one else), he is a mullah up there (here I do not mean any disrespect to the theologians or the learned scholars of Islam, but am referring to those so-called ‘ulema’ who do not know the alif-bay of Islam and yet have appointed themselves as the ‘custodians’ of our faith)."

Again, where is this coming from? He's a somewhat religious individual who prays and practices some of the tenets of Islam I suppose, but he doesn't sport a beard, he doesn't jarofy fatwas, he doesn't declare war on the non-believers regularly on TV or something. He's just a Muslim, the way we're ALL supposed to be? Not everyone who prays and practices his religion becomes an ulema or a maulvi or a fanatic, yea?

Do explain somewhat more if you don't mind.
polly said…
I agree with Abdullah on a few things. I think you have been unduly harsh on IK, and that too without saying as to why he is a crazy mullah up there or how your being unaware of three PTI leaders makes Imran Khan a narcissist.

And also no country ever solves all its problems in a year or two. Nature is not discontinuous but things integrate over time. The problem is that we expect things to improve too fast (i.e. we expect miracles), and hence this game of musical chairs. All the 'problems' you mentioned can be seen as symptoms of THE problem. Corruption? Poverty? Injustice?
I would argue that they are all symptoms of lack of education, and by education i just don't mean literacy but also morality. When most of students cheat to graduate then they will cheat to get ahead in life as well, and that is seen in not just politics but all walks of life.
But alas us humans have short lives we don't want to wait decades but want miracles.
The only thing we can do is just pick a govt which is the least evil of the lot, and let it remain for five years, and just concentrate on things like education, independence of the judiciary, law and order.
mehmal said…
Aniket ji, don't worry, I will keep updating everyone about the programme and policy of this 'miracle'. Aapka ashirwad chaahiye sarkaar! Laal Salaam!

Ayesha, soon my love, soon!

@ Abdullah and Polly, first of all, let me say this. I am a big fan of Imran Khan, but I admit that he's a bad politician. He was a great cricketer and he's a wonderful social worker, but let's be honest: Imran Khan can't do politics.

And now let's be practical. Imran Khan can't come to power unless his party gets a majority in Parliament. This won't happen till he lets other people come to the forefront. He has a dictatorial approach when it comes to his party. Read PTI's 'Powers of the Chairman' in its Constitution. Mr Khan can do anything and everything he wants to, he has ALL the power! Now this is not a democratic party. And here I am not saying that the PPP or the PML-N are democratic parties, no they're not. Far from it, infact. But the PTI is no different either.

You say that IK may not 'BE' the problem... well if we give the democratically elected forces ample time, atleast 5 years, they might do 'something' too. In Pakistan, in the past two decades or so, no democratically elected government has been given full 5 years to rule (and here I am not talking about the PML-Q government because we all know what that was). The thing with IK is that he doesn't understand politics, I don't have any faith in him ruling the country.

Oh I am from the media myself, yet I don't know anyone from his party. And don't blame it on the media. The media loves to project everyone, but if the party chairman doesn't give anyone else a chance, what can we do?! IK might be an honest man, but a man who hasn't even been successful in running his own party can't rule a whole country.

As for him being a mullah, I didn't label him one because he says his prayers or is a bit religious. I take a hijaab and say my prayers, but it doesn't make me a fanatic. The reason I called Imran Khan a mullah is because he's all for Shariah, and that too of the Taliban kind. If you've heard him talk on several talk shows, you would realise that he does not think that the local Taliban should be dealt with harshly. Those who are committing atrocities in the name of 'Islam', to him, are somehow justified. Also, someone who himself has led a liberal lifestyle (and still does), wants the women of this country to do pardah and remain inside their homes. Why did IK abstain from coming to the National Assembly the day the Women's Protection Bill was to be passed? Did he think that those women who had been languishing in jails for years on charges of adultery (because they dared to report that they had been raped!) should remain there?

I totally agree that there is need for education, there is need for an independent judiciary. And yes, this government should complete its tenure. But we also need a choice when these 5 years are over. We need another political party, a party of the masses. And hopefully this 'miracle' will materialise very soon insha'Allah.
Abdullah said…
Okay, on this I will agree that Imran Khan is not a great politician but what exactly is politics these days? It's double dealing, back stabbing, deception and betrayal. Thats what politics these days is about, so I agree, IK really isn't THAT good of a player when it comes to those things. He's a bit of an extreme idealist in his views I admit, but thats why I like the guy. He's got a backbone.

Well, I haven't read the Power of the Chairman, so I guess you may be right. Maybe he DOES need to get out there and find himself some partners for his cause.

Democratically elected forces? The current ones..? Well, first of, I really don't believe in the efficacy of democracy, it's a flawed political concept and it's probably never going to work for a country like ours. Sympathetic bloody votes got us our current democratically elected force, and what are they doing? Politic wheeling dealing that would put to shame even the sleaziest of politicians of any ERA! No way in "hell" is this particular democratically elected force going to make a positive difference in any way or form. Others might have. I agree, Benazir in her time, and Nawaz Sharif in his, could've done stuff if they had been allowed to by our pitbull of an army who has an over exaggerated self worth.

He hasn't been successful in running his party? How so? See, he may not have expanded his party the way PPP rocketed off after its inception, but that doesn't mean that he's not doing a good job for it. Morals, ethics, truth, and the right thing are not the best selling points in a country who's completely okay with having Zardari as the President. Think about this for a second. It's in the Quran, right? that a nation will get a leader/s from it's people. Someone who's of the people, or captures the qualities of the people. Something on those lines. God forgive me if I misrepresented the concept. So here's something to think about, our country's FULL of Zardaris :D. Awesome isn't it ? So a public like ours is not really going to foster the growth of a party that isn't in tune with their greedy ways.

As for the Taliban, do you know who they are? Like really know who they are? Most of us know only what we're told by the state media, and it's ALL state media these days. I know people, friends and family members, who have actually MET the Taliban in Afghanistan, well before the 9/11, well before the war on Iraq and the reports that I got from them (which I find more credible, then some unknown reporter's) are FAR different from what we hear in the news these days. The US is waging war on the world. Iraq, Afghanistan, potentially Iran, and in all likelihood Pakistan. We're in the middle of a World War 3, the only thing is that it's not been announced in the newspapers yet. This is a ploy to destabilize the country entirely. We're going to be destabilized anyway by the machinations of our own government but they're just lending us a helping hand. Okay, I'm not saying that it's ALL America and ISI and RAW and Mossad and what not. All I'm saying is that they're in part fueling a fire, and igniting it in other parts themselves. There ARE tribal leaders who're fanatics, there are Muslim extremists whose views are entirely skewed and far removed from the truth that is Islam but they alone are not the ones doing this. When IK refers to the Taliban, he's talking about the unadulterated version of the Taliban that I heard about. Not the suicide bombing, fatwa issuing ones that we hear about on the news.

What we need is a revolution. And I don't mean the French or the Iranian sorta revolution. We just need a revolution of thought and thats not going to happen with modern education and literacy alone. We need Islam, much more then we realize.
Tayyba said…
Riveted! Keep us updated. And let us know what we can do. Absolutely.
BD said…
That's a lot of sarcasm for a single post :P But then I don't blame you.
Anonymous said…
Congratulation Mr. Asif Ali Zardari! We encourage you to spread your wife's mission and pray for your achievement.
I have seen your blog first time. i think your opinion is clear and it can be make a new way for open thinking.im also a journalist.

pls remove word verification.
tum to chaa gaye mere dost
steppenwolf said…
read about your blog in todays Times of India...

good going, keep it up :)

Sid (Mumbai,IN)
Sambit said…
Mehmal, I read your blog after reading the article in TOI. your blog is very honest and very good journalistic writing.Keep it up.
Sushil said…
I also came to know about your blog by today's edition of TOI.

Keep up the good work.
vichchoobhai said…
Hi Mehmal, I came to know about your blog through the Times of India, whichgave an impression that it is quite a rage across the borders. Having sampled your stuff, I must say you are different from most political commentators. More power to your elbow.

About IK, I agree that he is not Prime Ministerial or Presidential material. I would any day prefer Zardari to him. He has a huge ego problem and moves about in elite circles. He was at Parmeshwar Godrej's party in Bombay when Benazir was assassinated. All he gave were dead pan comments.

Let us face it, Pakistan's two mainstream parties are well organised and entrenched. They have the money power, manpower and the survival instinct. Not easy to dislodge them. Unlike in India where the Regional parties with single digit seats in Pariament can call the shots, a similar scenario in Pakistan is unimaginable at least in the imminent future. As in India, catchy slogans,inducements, promises and muscle power carry the day. Unless the populace of this subcontinent gets education and two square meals a day they cannot be expected to become politics savvy. They are now like dumb driven cattle, sorry to say that. Adult suffrage has no mean ing unless the voters can discriminate between parties, understand the manifestos and judge the performance. Except for the creamy layer of our population which is barely two percent, how many can qualify to be competent voters?

Terrorism of all hues is another menace in our subcontinent. To form a new party, lead a movement, onehas to risk life and limbs. No wonder our educted youth is shunning politics.

SAARC is another washsout. Saarc countries are always at loggerheads and riddled with their own internal problems to have any kind of meaningful co-operation among themselves. It is better to abolish this white elephant onwhich we spend millions.

Well, all we can do is hope like Micawber that something will turn up someday. Till then, itis business as usual !!!
Devika Narain said…
Hi Mehmal,
I am an Indian blogger with political concerns the same as yours. I think even though we come from the other side of he border, we have a lot in common. I couldnt find any other way to contact you but I would really like to invite you to publish your views at my blog. My blog is stopthissiege.blogspot.com and my email id is dnarain @ gmail.
I thought your blog was very well written. Hope to hear from you soon.
Devika Narain
wiz said…
Good sense of writing, like reading a newspaper.

Keep up the good work. (wiz from literati).
Ash said…
First nice blog, Mehmal (what does the name mean??)

Second, the fundamental problem with Pakistani (and Indian) society is the feudalism and on top of that religion. Religions (both Islam and Hindu) have killed the subcontinent. We try and make sense of religion when something goes wrong.. More funnily, we try to prove religion as something scientific which is plain rubbish. Science has developed on itself, in fact despite a lot of opposition from religion.

Had everyone in Pak and India been atheist, there would be very few or no problems.

Get rid of religion which gets rid of lots of other things and be prosperous and happy.
Anonymous said…
where have you disappeared? still thinking what is to be done....well do something before the taliban issues a fatwa on you! Or has it already issues?
Syed Asadullah said…
Use Followers Me option, it is a way for remembering the blog,
Ali khan said…
wow... thats really deep thought....

Popular posts from this blog

Religious extremism in Pakistan (Part V)

The myth of September 6, 1965

Freedoms and sport