By Humayun Gauhar
See, I’m a positive person. I didn’t say ‘Descent into Chaos’. I’m saying ‘Ascent into Anarchy’. I see a silver lining in everything, no matter how dark or dire. Why? Four reasons.
- Anarchy leads to bloodletting, which is a cleansing process, ridding the country of the rapacious vermin that have been ruling and raping it for six decades and more. Our pro-rich, anti-poor constitution along with the colonial political system that it has foisted on us will be torn up and kicked into the dustbin of history, where they belong.
- Anarchy often leads to revolution that brings a new, and hopefully more equitable, status quo. Without this there is no hope. But that is much more difficult. There is no guarantee that anarchy automatically leads to revolution, and even more unlikely that it will lead to a good revolution.
- Third, and most important, this constitution and the system that it spawns, more than anything, are the source of our problems. So if they are self-destructing, fine with me. Better they commit joint suicide than be killed by someone else for then they will become instant martyrs in a land of necrophiles that love unlikely martyrs. Suicides have little sympathy.
- This constitution does not reflect the social contract that we started out with 62 sad years ago. We urgently need a new social contract that will give birth to a legitimate constitution and a system that is more in tandem with the needs, aspirations and frustrations of the people and does something about their hopes and fears. We need a constitution that is not born of a still colonized mind and is a mutilation of the colonial British India Act of 1935 meant to control the natives. And we need a political system that is not a bad clone of British Westminster parliamentary democracy that itself has demonstrated how absurd it is in the last UK elections. We are a federation and not a unitary state like Britain. We need a system in which the legislature and the parliament are separate and independent of the executive as well as the judiciary.
So long as we hypocritically keep calling ourselves an Islamic republic in name only, so long will we continue to flounder. Just to say that Islam is the state religion and no law shall be made that is repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah is not enough. Neither is the icing of two articles in the constitution that state what its makers and mutilators think are the qualifications and disqualifications of leaders. Either you make Pakistan into a truly modern and progressive state based on Islamic welfare of Haqooq ul Ibad (The Rights of God’s Creation) or forget about it and call yourself just the Republic of Pakistan modeled after western political systems that is born of the concept of Pakistan as a homeland for Indian Muslims to escape the Hindu majority’s domination. Then sit back and wait to remain mired in poverty, dependence and degradation, as the vast multitudes of India are, having equally slavishly adopted the Westminster parliamentary system. If you cannot implement what you claim yourself to be, don’t become a hypocrite.
There are 57 Muslim majority states and only four call themselves Islamic, Pakistan being one. The other three are Saudi Arabia, Iran and Mauritania, so look at the company you keep. There has to be a reason why 53 countries have opted not to call themselves ‘Islamic’. Hopefully, in the not too distant future I shall write an essay on the concept of a modern Islamic state.
Anarchy, it is a coming. No, it has already come if you look at the confusion of our various governments put together as a totality. Everyone is going in different directions, mostly in circles that are a downward spiral, not knowing where they are or where they are going, hyenas without destination, the only objective being to loot and plunder the country yet again till there is no life left in its emaciated body. What next? Revolution? Not likely, not without a leadership that has a clear, modern and doable hpw ideology and which knows exactly what will pull this country out of the quagmire it has sunk into.
This country has now descended into a disgraceful situation in every respect. People have no electricity, no cheap food, no sugar, no water, no jobs, no security, no independence, no nothing. Extremists and terrorists are running rampant and the ruling class is at a loss, bemused and confused, waiting for their turn. All people have are hollow promises, hopelessness and a pent up anger coming to the boil. Sporadic and spontaneous street demonstrations have started daily in many cities and towns of Pakistan. A growing number are even beginning to question whether Pakistan was such a good idea. This is dangerous. There is no going back to India, not least because they will not have us. Fearsome bloodletting is already upon us everywhere, now Lahore, now Islamabad, now Rawalpindi, now Karachi, now Quetta, now anywhere, everywhere, anyone, whoever.
Anarchy French Revolution like is certain, round the corner. Revolution is uncertain, without a clear and coherent leadership and cadres. The only organized forces are the army and the religious militants. After four military governments we have seen that the generals too have no solutions to our problems, as the politicians don’t. How can they when the army is part and parcel of the ruling class – call it ‘the establishment’. It only intervenes to save the iniquitous status quo that existing rulers put into jeopardy endangering every stakeholders’ share of in spoils. Call it slice of the cake if you like. What is needed is a change of the status quo to a more equitable and egalitarian one in which there is some distributive justice. Sorry to say and much as I disagree with them, the Taliban are the only ones who have a coherent ideology, however convoluted, with a clear though simplistic idea of what they want. Plus they are armed and very good at guerilla warfare and have the cadres as well as the cannon fodder. If they try and harness people’s growing anger, I’m afraid that hate it as I might, they are the only force likely to fill the vacuum that will ensue. But that will only make our situation worse, not better.
From our armchair intellectuals I see no hope for they are all pseudo, too steeped in western political constructs and concepts without fully understanding them historically and culturally, with very little idea of the real Pakistani political culture or an understanding of the people and their aspirations and frustrations. With the media revolution our people are seeing the quality of life of workers and peasants like themselves in other countries. They also want it and they want it NOW. That is their right. There has been an explosion of aspirations and an expiry of patience has taken place leading to an explosion of frustrations but surprisingly our intellectuals haven’t noticed. They are too caught up in the false dawn of democracy, not realizing that it is a mirage conjured up by a simple balloting exercise. It is a game of the well fed. No one notices that the people have been left behind. There is no one here to understand this or do something about it. All we do when in trouble is go to America, the IMF and the World Bank, begging bowl in hand. They may have answers to our problems but they are not telling us about them. All they have historically done is put us on a drip without nutrition. Yet we never learn, that the fulcrum of our economic philosophy has to be self-reliance and central to it has to be the human condition and its continuous improvement, starting from the poorest.
Things are happening, so keep your ear to the ground, think and watch this space.
Humayun Gauhar is an accomplished writer. He has been writing for English dailies in Pakistan and abroad. Comes on the TV talk shows and is very forthright with his opinions. He is frequent contributor to Opinion Maker