"The dangerous conflict that is destroying Pakistan is being played by the secularists; who though very small in numbers have a wide leaverage through media. The role of Mullah cannot be absolved as he is not sure what he wants." Raja Mujtaba
By Humayun Gauhar
In a couple of days we will be sixty-five, a brief moment in the process of evolution. My birthday present to you is to show you the Truth as I see it, ruthlessly and honestly. What I say is evident everywhere.
After 65 years of uncertainty that gave us mostly suffering and turmoil, if we still cannot be honest with ourselves there is little hope that we will ever see the light for we will not understand.
Our condition is pathetic. Sixty-five years on and we still haven’t found our bearings. We haven’t decided whether we are western or eastern, spiritual or secular, not knowing that both the spiritual and secular are inherent in Islam. We have yet no consensus on why we were born, why and how. We still cling to tales and legends. The result is that instead of being a country at the threshold of omnibus progress, we are at a precipice from which the fall will be awesome.
We have lost our God-given sovereignty. Our governments are but window dressing of a store that is empty. Symbolism flourishes everywhere; substance languishes. Bereft of Faith, we practice a religion that we don’t understand. We don’t even know the difference between Faith that comes from God and religion that comes from clerics often masquerading as scholars. Faith is ‘Iman’; religion is ‘Deen’ combined with ‘Mazhab’ or Sharia. There are many Sharia because Muslims are so divided, not thinking that the Holy Prophet (pbuh), his martyred cousin and son-in-law Ali and his martyred sons Hasan and Hussain did not belong to any sect or movement. They were Muslims only, pristine and without pretensions, not Shia, Sunni, Wahabi, Deobandi and what have you, some seventy-two. The clerics religion has reduced God’s Faith to dogma, ritual and traditions that have been superimposed on Faith. We practice this amalgam of God’s Faith and the clerics religion religiously, solemnly and mindlessly.
A social contract between people is about why they wish to live together and how. Reduced to writing it is a peoples’ constitution. Our social contract evaporated in 1971 when we lost half our country. Our new social contract was cobbled together by giving concession to feudal barons and tribal warlords in a rump assembly comprising the worst and most primitive exploiters of the people. It is the source of all that is wrong. There is need for a new social contract and a new basic law.
Can our below-mediocre leadership in the entire ruling class of politicians, bureaucrats, soldiers, judges, lawyers, journalists, feudal and tribal lords, businessmen, academics, clerics, civil society and what have you deliver? They cannot because they are products of a mutilated alien system that is based on that document of colonization called the British India Act of 1935. Thus they remain mentally colonized to alien political, social, economic and philosophical constructs and cannot think in the context of the land they belong to, its history, culture and traditions. So while our ruling class happily follows the British political system thinking that they are being ‘modern’, our people hark back to the virtually pre-historic dynastic for lack of a system that is native to them, yet contemporary and relevant. Our decolonization is still incomplete.
Until all this is swept away in the tidal wave of history we shall find no deliverance. Instead, we will remain caught up in cold statistics often engineered, like growth rates. How stupid. What is the point of having a growth rate touching the sky if the majority of your people are poor because all wealth created gets trapped at the top or is wasted on exercises in futility?
So backward are we that while the hegemon has got to the moon and beyond, our pious mullahs cannot even see it for lack of vision of a different kind. And we wonder why we can’t stand up to American dictates. Remove everything that is of western origin and all we will be left with are our clothes – except for the ‘Kala Sahib’ of course. Nothing else, so backward are we. There is no point in bleating that if you remove everything from the West that is of Muslim origin it too will be left with little. That was in the past. We live in the present. If hpw we continue to live in our undoubtedly glorious past we will remain forever mired in the past. Most of it was Arab anyway. We have to think in the context of our own history in the subcontinent and be proud of it, like we made the world’s first motorway, and so much more. Now if we wish to make our present great and our future greater, we have to start thinking instead of blaming, bleating and lamenting. It’s become a boring dirge.
There is chaos and anarchy everywhere. The human condition is pathetic and getting worse by the day. The right to develop one’s mind to its fullest potential is strikingly absent – little good food, no jobs, no education, no healthcare while inflation is rampant. No electricity, no water, no gas and no security. Human dignity and the dignity of the family are of no concern to our mentally challenged rulers. Wars and battles are abroad. Mafiosi stalk the land: killings, kidnapping, maiming and robbing galore. Pakistan has become the land of the oligarch. Every institution is led by men with huge dark clouds of lack of integrity and probity hovering over their heads, yet they chug along shamelessly – and those in waiting too.
The continual and significant improvement in the human condition is central to a state that claims Islam as its official religion, its raison d’etre or justification for existence. ‘Adl’ – balance and equity in society – is a cornerstone of Islam. Our lack of it screams out to be noticed. Justice is part of adl. The lack of justice and the delay in getting it is a bad joke. There is no attempt even to deliver the Islamic rights of God’s Creations though the human being is the greatest of His creations, His vicegerent. We have done to the human being what we have done to God – ignored both and their rights and our duties and obligations to them and even misinterpreted and added to His Word.
No need to fret. Let me leave you with glad tidings. Sixty-five years is but a blink in the broad sweep of history. I see a light far away on this dark road in our fearsome jungle of man-eating beasts where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. The light is from the growing fire that that will burn our system down, to be replaced by a humane system hopefully. Ashes must come before the Phoenix.
Charles Dickens’ description of pre-Revolution France in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ is so much like the description of Pakistan today. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” What say you now? Such a situation led to first anarchy and then revolution in France and look where it is today.
We have made progress, for such a situation is already upon us. There is uncoordinated anarchy everywhere. If the pockets of anarchy on disparate issues get coordinated on one platform – the destruction of this system – revolution will follow. Then we will go places. If not, we will go “direct the other way”. The vulgar call it ‘The Trashcan of History’.
The problem is that the human being is impatient because he wants solutions in his lifetime. That is a very short timeframe against the timeframe of Creation that is perpetually in progress in the timeframe of the Creator. The Divine Command, “Let there be light” is echoing everywhere, evenly and without pause throughout the universe. “Yeh kainat abhi na tamam hai shaiad; keh aa rahi hai damma dum sada-e-Kun Faya Kun” – “Be” is being heard everywhere and “it is coming into being”. What is your hurry in this brief stopover of the Caravan of Life on Earth? Be patient. Don’t worry. Be happy. Look at those who have even less than you and thank God for what you have. It is a learning process.