By Humayun Gauhar
Oh, my eyes, my damned eyes. They are driving me nuts. I am typing on 28 points font now. The good news is my eyes haven’t got worse – or perhaps I’m fooling myself. I’m off to Karachi for treatment, so lets see. ‘Mistreatment’ more like, for they will give me three injections in each eyeball, one month apart. Thus I’m stuck in this hassle for two months. The saving grace is that I love Karachi and don’t mind going there.
The problem is that as I told you last week I’m in the process of setting up a Pakistani restaurant in Islamabad and my presence is required here. My theory is that some jealous old men have unwittingly cast an evil eye on me so that I cannot see all the pretty girls that I’m always surrounded with. The bad news for the oldies is that I can still see them. How? Because the heart is clean. Anyway…
I have before me a ‘Peanuts’ cartoon where Charlie Brown is sitting up in bed thinking, “Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’ Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night’.”
It will take many a night to determine where we went wrong, why and how, starting from before our inception. It will take a book, which if my eyes hold I hope to write one day. The poet, however, can say it in verse, a line. “If you bend to the outsider you lose your heart and soul”. Reminds me of Dr. Faustus who racked up so much debt from the devil that in the end he had to sell his soul to him. This actually happens in Pakistan to this day where poor villagers, unable to return loans at impossible interest rates, have to eventually sell their bodies and souls, their wives and daughters to loan sharks, primitive tribal chieftains and rapacious landlords.
Or, “If you cannot be true to me [God], at least be true to yourself.” Then: “Don’t sell your sovereignty; make your station in self-reliance.” China has. Or, “ A true believer fights even without the sword” – meaning with intellect and faith. Make yourself mentally, politically and economically so strong, develop your human capital and the world will become your oyster. A true believer is a ‘momin’ and in implementing God’s Will he becomes God’s Word in action – “No one knows the secret that the a momin looks like a reciter but is in fact the Recitation.” To rulers of poverty-stricken countries: “Your abode is not the citadels of the great. You soar like the falcon; your dwelling is on the sheer cliffs of mountains.” Sadly, our falcons live in palaces, wear Armani suits and carry Birkin bags. If cliffs they have to live on, they would rather live on the high cliffs of Dover.
That was Iqbal, whom we sing and repeat endlessly but never take seriously. What chance does poor Iqbal have when we have not even implemented the spirit of God’s Word? All some of us do is go out of our way to learn the Quran by heart, but without understanding. Most do neither but repeat its verses whenever it suits them, sometimes even swearing that things that are not in the Quran are there. When there is no understanding of the intent of God what is the chance of His Will being implemented? The only way to truly translate the Divine Word is into action. Words are but sounds that soon lose their meaning. This is where we have gone wrong.
Having read this, do you still wonder about the NATO supply routes? The answer is before you. Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s great founding fathers, said: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” We have neither, not temporary safety nor liberty that we in fact never gained for we never managed to decolonize ourselves mentally. So now that we have neither liberty nor safety, what have we sold ourselves for? A trip to Chicago by a theoretically powerless, constitutionally ceremonial president?
We have painted ourselves into a corner, in a chicken and egg situation. “I won’t pay tax because government will waste my money,” say the people. That’s not a totally incorrect notion. “If you don’t pay taxes we cannot do anything for you anyway,” retorts the government. That’s not a totally incorrect notion either. And so it goes in a vicious downward spiral. Down, down, down…
A temporarily famous lady and parliamentarian to boot said in response to question 4 on her tax return form that asks, ‘Do you have any dependents?’ Her answer: “2.1 million Afghan immigrants, 1.1 million Benazir Income Support recipients, 4.4 million unemployable people, 901 thousand people in over 85 prisons, three rotten sons of Gillani, one mummy-daddy boy of Zardari, 90 free loaders of Gillani’s foreign trips and 650 idiots in Parliament’. She wrote to me: “Apparently, this was NOT an acceptable answer. My Tax Return application has been rejected! Can you believe it? So who the hell did I miss?”
You missed the world pass you by, dear lady. So did we all.
So did the world. It went wrong following exploitative economic policies and now outdated political systems. The European economic crisis is but a symptom of exploitative economic systems being hoist on their own petard. Today Greece is in focus. Tomorrow its ramifications will be felt worldwide, which I why I call it ‘The Global Greek Tragedy’.
I would never have believed that the day would come when a ‘civilized’ country, an ‘advanced’ one at that, the ‘cradle of democracy’ no less, would emulate Pakistan. But Greece has. Others might follow suit. Pakistan had elected governments. So did Greece. Our elected governments, led mostly by dynasts, were regularly overthrown unconstitutionally and undemocratically by the military-judiciary-cleric combine. Greece’s democratically elected government headed by its own dynast the third Papandreou was unconstitutionally and undemocratically removed by the German-French combine called ‘Merkozy’ egged on by the bond markets. Now wait for ‘Merllande’ to be born. Every time we formed caretaker governments that held elections. So did Greece, but not before the unconstitutional Greek government was forced to accept an inhuman austerity package imposed by the German-French-banking combine. Pakistani caretaker governments held elections that regularly threw up more dynastic, inept, unwieldy and eminently removable governments. Greece’s caretaker government also held elections but they went one ahead of us: the result was such a mess that they were not even able to form a government. We could give them lessons in donkey trading. So they have formed yet another caretaker government to hold elections again that will inevitably throw up another mish-mash.
Here is where I am afraid that, having gone ahead of us, we will emulate Greece’s example. Exactly what I fear you-know-who wants to happen in Pakistan has already happened in Greece. They have followed the failed Bangladesh model, made a caretaker government and – wait for it – appointed a Supreme Court judge to head it. What is that sound I hear behind me? Lips smacking in expectation? I don’t think our Supreme Court judges are so stupid as to fall for this stupid gambit. They know that they will only make a mess of it and lose all credibility and their place in history. They are not armed with the knowhow.
Much the same happened in Italy by the way: Berlusconi’s elected government was removed by the German-French combine playing to the tune of the financial markets. They also have an unelected caretaker government. Does this not underline the utter failure of the western political system that they would foist on us? Problem is, no one has been able to come up with a system less bad.
“Colonels’ Coup” is a phrase that also comes from Greece. But colonels’ coups did nothing for the countries where they happened – not Greece, not Egypt, not Iraq, not Libya, not anywhere. Like judges, military men are just not equipped to run a country. They are limited people, experts only in one thing, justice or warfare, nothing else. Sure our junior military officers must be looking askance at what is going on, as we all are, but they would also be stupid if they think that they have the panacea to our ills. Hemorrhoids cannot be cured with a sword. They need balm.
Most certainly we all want Pakistan to become a great country. But, as Ghalib said, “Yeh arzoo bhi barri cheese hai magar humdum; wisal-e-yaar faqat arzoo key baat nahin” – “Desire is a great thing my friend, but consummation with the Beloved cannot be achieved with desire alone”.