By Humayun Gauhar

Customary spontaneity makes me wish everyone a Happy New Year. My prayer is that humankind has a less bad new year than the last has been. But I wouldn’t bet on it.                                                            

If you think that I’m going to say something about General Pervez Musharraf’s illness, you’re in for a disappointment. I know as much as you do. If I knew different I wouldn’t tell, because I don’t want to preempt the doctors. I pray for his health. Anyway, all those clairvoyants and shamans who make predictions galore with the confidence only charlatans can have didn’t predict this one, so let’s stop wasting time listening to them and reading their gobbledygook. More interesting is the fact brought to our attention by Dr. Mervyn Hosein in a letter to the editor that the 2014 calendar is identical to the 1947 calendar when India broke, Pakistan was made, millions were killed and the greatest migration in human history took place. Here’s hoping that countries are not broken this year too, that killings decrease and forced migrations don’t happen. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

I told you last week that God enjoins us not to hate anyone so much that we cannot do them justice. God judges us not so much for our deeds but more importantly for our intentions behind those deeds. This is what humankind must understand. You might do something that looks very good on the face of it, but if your intention is selfish, like vengefulness, faking democracy, making a name for yourself as a great philanthropist, or to please a government or to book yourself a place in Heaven, the good your deed would have done you is compromised. You cannot fool God. He knows best. He knows what is in everyone’s hearts, their intentions.

Apart from revenge and castrating the army, another intention of this government behind trying Musharraf for treason is to create the mirage of democracy and an independent judiciary. But mirages disappear very fast and all you end up with is a vaster and more desolate wilderness. The only way is to create realities, not illusions, by letting democracy operate democratically and justice be done justly.

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How are our civilian governments any different from dictators who try and create the illusion of democracy? Or is Nawaz Sharif another of our dictators in civilian garb running government like a family fief, trying to commit patricide by killing his political nursery in which he was seeded and nourished in order to fake a democratic persona? Does he really believe in due process? If he really does, why does he not try Musharraf for the whole thing from October 12, 1999 to November 3, 2007 and not just for the latter date? The inescapable conclusion is that he is trying to protect certain important players, himself and the recently retired chief justice particularly. There are no holy cows in justice. God knows, and God knows best. As they say, never judge a man till you see his end.

We are more wedded to form rather than substance. You can see this in our practice of democracy and adjudication. Lacking an independent thought process, all we are capable of is slavishly aping the West’s nostrums, philosophies and systems, not God’s Word. And we are not very good at that either. Meantime, we live in denial.

We deny that the prime cause of our pathetic condition is our fault, for it is the people’s choices of and acquiescence to inept and corrupt rulers whom we later criticize pretending that we had nothing to do with it and blaming fate for our horrible condition, not ourselves. We deny that we follow false gods by repeatedly electing them knowing that they are corrupt and incompetent, lacking woefully in wisdom. We deny that we follow the dogmas of clerics rather than the Word of God. We deny that we have lost the ability to differentiate between good and bad, sin and evil, right and wrong, even what is in our good and what is not. We are caught up in religiosity, ritual and form rather than substance. We are exhibitionists rather than followers of the spirit and essence of our Faith. We question others’ patriotism not realizing how unpatriotic we are when we elect bad rulers. We violate God’s injunctions and happily do wrong even without realizing it.

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While 2013 was a year of superficial change – Musharraf returning, old-new government, new army chief, new chief justice – nothing changed. The status quo remained mired in inequity and societal injustice. Even the US, the granddaddy of us all, was mired in growing indebtedness, political gridlock and escaping from two lost wars. Try as they might to make its withdrawal look orderly and honourable, they are fooling no one, least of all their own people. Meantime, it is diminished as a sole superpower. Its political system now produces gridlock rather than consensus, apart from throwing up poor leadership. They have just arrived at a compromise budget deal. The issue to raise the debt ceiling will raise its head again in March. Raising debt when the total is already more than the GDP is mindless. Like most everyone else the US seems to have parted company with commonsense and lost the ability to tell what is in its own good and what is for its bad.

Europe is on edge. Britain is suggesting that Germany, the engine of the continent, leaves the Euro. That would be the end of not only this fake currency without a father, it would be the end of the European Union, whose prime usefulness was to prevent internecine warfare that led to two world wars. Will the third arise there again and not from the so-called ‘Islamic Crescent’ as many fear? God knows best. Despite its huge knowledge bank, humankind seems to have lost it for now.

To say that China (and perhaps Russia) will rise and we will soon have a multipolar world is to state the obvious. All we can do in this global flux is to watch, protect ourselves from the juggernaut of historical forces and work out our own position in the emerging New World Order. Our position in the useless Islamic bloc is no longer tenable. SAARC never managed to become useful; now it will become a joke. The only grouping that might remain of consequence is the China-Russia led SCO, in which we have observer status. We should become its full members. We need to stop bothering about India and neutralize it with normalization of relations with Afghanistan and Iran. Easier said than done, for in the sophistry and perfidy stakes India beats us hollow.

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We are trapped in a centrifuge like the rest of the world, caught in the throes of a great global shift. A centrifuge is a hollow cylindrical object that spins faster and faster to separate and enrich the useful from muck, like you spin a centrifuge to enrich uranium by separating it from the detritus. Whether you use the enriched material to kill or help humanity depends how far down the satanic path you are gone. Pakistan is caught in a fast spinning centrifuge, spinning faster and faster in which, hopefully, the good is being separated from the bad. With luck, the good in us will surface and we will be able to make Pakistan a model for others to emulate. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

We need to get back to our mission of making a model Islamic welfare state that others can emulate. We can only get back to it by making our own luck If not, there will be a great societal thermonuclear explosion of a dirty bomb that will destroy the national detritus in one big bang and something new will emerge. We are on the cusp of that upheaval today. That is how a phoenix rises after everything has been burnt to ashes. It will make 2014 painful for some but a Happy New Year for many.