Pakistan: Revolution in installments
The capital city of Islamabad has been invaded by revolutionaries promising deliverance from poverty, terror attacks, power outages, double digit inflation and bringing about electoral reforms for the people of Pakistan. The current dispensation too had made similar promises during the election campaign but found it expedient to renege on its pledges no sooner it grasped the mantle of power. Thus the two prong assault on Islamabad, the citadel of power demanding abdication of the Sharif Dynasty. One led by a Canadian televangelist with a large following from his religious seminaries; the other by a former cricketer turned politician, who has had the opportunity to exhibit “good governance” in the province of KPK but fared no better than the federal government during the last fourteen months of his political party’s rule. Both promise revolution but even a cursory glance at the struggles of some notable revolutionaries like Che Guevara, Emiliano Zapata, William Wallace, Martin Luther King Junior or our own Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah signifies that revolutionaries are made of sterner stuff.
Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of the American Revolution stated that “These are the times that try men’s souls”. Leaders of men who intend to incorporate change should share the hardship and adversity of the upheaval, inclement weather, crackdown by governmental forces and other trials and tribulations with their followers. Seeking refuge in weatherproof containers or the security of their home while their followers suffer the vagaries of nature and hostilities of law enforcing agencies, possible assault by terrorists neither endear them to their devotees nor provide credence to their cause.
My grandfather Professor Muslim Azeemabadi, in his poem “Azaadi” (Freedom) rendered in 1938, nine years prior to Pakistan’s independence, had predicted:
Independence is an exquisitely beautiful maiden
It appears gorgeous when adorned in cloaks of justice,
But becomes a tale of woe when wedded to absolute power
Born of slavery, it gives birth to slaves!
Slaves who gain freedom only to enslave others
The unjust seek personal goals through freedom
Seventy six years later, my grandfather’s prediction is more than true. With the early demise of our founding fathers, we have pygmies for leaders, who seek self aggrandizement rather than striving to resolve the problems of the masses. My grandfather was not alone in his prophecy. Faiz Ahmad Faiz, in his poem “The Dawn of Freedom” (Translation by Agha Shahid) had rendered on 14 August 1947:
These tarnished rays, this night-smudged light —
This is not that Dawn for which, ravished with freedom,
We had set out in sheer longing,
so sure that somewhere in its desert the sky harbored
a final haven for the stars, and we would find it.
George Orwell, in his allegorical and dystopian satirical novel Animal Farm, published in England on 17 August 1945, depicted events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Stalin era in the Soviet Union. Orwell used various farm animals to portray the main characters of the Russian Revolution: Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin, Leon Trotsky and various characters in society. Orwell’s satire illustrates how selfish leaders alter the original mandates and execute u-turns in their thoughts, beliefs and practices to further their personal agenda.
The ironic twist is that the politicians of Pakistan and most developing nations behave in similar manner as represented inAnimal Farm. The only segment of society that fails to learn its lesson is the masses, who like sheep are time and again duped by demagogues, sham and selfish leaders and their bogus pledges.
The cricketer turned politician, besides taking refuge behind bullet proof shields, is executing a revolution in installments. Come rain, sleet, snow or sweltering heat, a true revolutionary does not take breaks, leaving his followers in the lurch.
Incongruously, the cricketer-cum-politician has given a two day ultimatum to the government to meet his demands or face civil disobedience. He has been promising a return to “Jinnah’s Pakistan” but remains oblivious to the fact that in 1920, when Mohandas Gandhi, called for satyagraha or non-violent non-cooperation against the British, Jinnah opposed Gandhi’s call for law-breaking and resigned from the Congress. As president of the Muslim League, Jinnah continued to press for full independence for India and creation of Pakistan, and achieved it through negotiation with Britain and constitutional process, rather than through protests and strikes or ever violating the law.
The cricketer-cum-politician is setting a very dangerous precedent, where instead of debating differences in the Parliament or through judicial process, brute force will rule the roost.
The key to sound leadership for all politicians including for the dispensation currently ruling Islamabad may be found in the last verse of my grandfather’s poem “Freedom”:
Neither through flattery, nor through oppression, nor by rule of majority
Freedom emanates from strength; strength is begotten from the service of humanity