By Dr. Haider Mehdi
“Kuch danay gil-lah, Kuch juntar till-lah.”
Metaphors in the Punjabi language are so amazingly concise in their contents and are remarkably comprehensive in their meaning, depth and wisdom. The Punjabi lexicon is itself loaded with symbolic effervescence. Its narrative states a million thoughts in few words and its simplicity is refreshing and defining. “Kuch danay gil-lah, Kuch juntar till-lah” literally means: when some wheat grains are wet and some parts of the grinder (chucki) are defective, the possibility of getting edible wheat flour is virtually absent.
In essence, this metaphor is applicable to explain system failures. It illustrates that when an input in the system is flawed, the intervening process is imperfect, so the output cannot be expected to be wholesome. Symbolically, today’s Pakistan is a true reflection of this Punjabi metaphor. The entire political system is flawed from input to process to output—each step on the way is impaired with devastating and gross imperfections.
The absurdity of the contemporary political culture is so alarming and undignified that it edges almost on being a comedy of errors. It seems as if the entire discourse of the political management is fueled by a “chumcha” culture. Take for example, the newly constructed multi-storied parking plaza near Liberty Market in Gulberg in the historical city of Lahore. At its completion, it was inaugurated by the Punjab Chief Minister. Reliable sources claim that die-hard “jiyalas” of Punjab’s CM hung banners on the main entrance of this parking lot admiring the CM’s “political vision” in being instrumental in conceiving the idea of this parking facility and helping in its construction. The question is: What is so visionary about constructing a parking facility in this time and age? It is almost hilarious to attribute “political vision” to such an ordinary achievement, isn’t it? In fact, it is not only funny, it’s truly idiotic.
What is alarming about the purpose and the construction of this parking plaza is the way in which the entire parking situation is being managed now. It is a classic example of the misuse of power to accommodate vested commercial interests at the expense of the masses. Nowadays, parking is prohibited in the main Liberty Market area. Traffic police lift parked vehicles, causing the usual inconvenience of searching, locating and retrieving the cars. What this arrangement amounts to is a coercive enforcement of parking rules that adversely affects the businesses and the customers alike. It seems as of now, Liberty Market is being turned into a shopping center for the elites only—one must have a chauffeur-driven car to be dropped off and picked up in front of one’s shopping destination or one has to park the car at a fairly long distance at a forced fee of Rs. 20 per hour. Obviously, the elderly cannot manage it and the chauffer-less customers have no choice but to pay the parking fee as well as walk a long distance. My question is: What is so visionary about that? It does not make any sense in terms of commercial acumen or creating a business-friendly shopping environment, does it?
The driving force in this management approach is the pursuit of financial gains – the vested interests, being patronized and supported by un-insightful and out-of-touch political leadership, are simply reaping the benefits at the expense of the public. At a time when the entire world is in revolutionary upheaval seeking power-back-to-people, our political-vested interests continue to make public policy decisions contrary to the interests of the common people. It is as if they have not even heard what is going around them all over the world—or perhaps they just couldn’t care less for public welfare.
In my political analysis, I have to invariably conclude that our political-elite and vested interest leadership lives in another age, in another time, oblivious to what changes have transpired and transformed our present civilization. They are completely unaware that increased political consciousness in the masses is likely to completely transform the nature of political discourse at this stage of our existence. It seems that our contemporary leadership believes that this nation’s masses live in total political backwardness: politically unaware, intellectually unrefined and inferior, and that they can be placated by lofty rhetoric alone. They believe that the public does not understand they are being misled, manipulated, and deceived; they think people are unaware that their interests are being criminally violated. But the fact of the matter is that it is the other way around: it is the leadership that is ignorant, hopelessly oblivious to ground realities, and out of tune with the present times. This attitude cannot last. This political system will not survive for much longer. We are heading towards chaos for which the responsibility lies solely on our present leadership – and its egocentric world-view and supercilious attitude towards the people of this nation.
Take for instance the banners welcoming a federal minister (who is rated low in public esteem) that the new Punjab’s Governor hung on the Mall road all the way from GPO to Governor’s House. The Governor’s House main entrance in itself looks like an advertisement for a cheap theatre (rather, a circus) with its undignified billboards, welcome banners and posters. The point is all of this political triviality is of no significance: People in this country are not interested in this kind of charade of appalling flattery, not any more. They are only interested in the resolution of their immense problems which are multiplying day and night – but the resolutions are not forthcoming. Instead the nation is confronted with the distasteful art of political absurdity—of political nonsense fostered by the overwhelming “chumcha” culture and that offers no solutions to massive public grievances, demands and problems.
Ironically and unfortunately, the “chumcha” culture is not in decline as it should be in a democratic setup. Top “chumchas” surround the top political leadership and run around the power corridors everywhere. Second tier “chumchas” polish apples for the top “chumchas,” making the political process in the country murky and meaningless. It is a vicious cycle that flourishes with incredible continuity, and with negative fallouts and destructive non-democratic applications – the blind (leadership) leading the blind (“chumchas”). Consequently, the national political process never becomes amalgamated, missing the essential ingredient of a true national democratic dialogue, as the leaders never participate in useful and enlightened political discourse. The game, the blind leading the blind, continues as the common people watch helplessly.
The fact is that our entire present political system has failed, has morally collapsed and has been taken over by incompetent, indifferent and ignorant political managers!!!
“Kuch Danay Gil-lah, Kuch Juntar Till-lah”!!!!
We are living through a comedy of errors.!!! Nay, it’s more of a tragedy.