I couldn’t care less who the next caretaker prime minister is, but with friends in the fray and so much mistrust and contention in the air, I am concerned that none is likely to emerge unscathed. Of the names being bandied around, none is Punjabi (so much for the ‘oppressive’ province) but trust the wily Zardari to pull a surprise out of a hat. Almas Bobby, perhaps – what say you? He/she/it is Punjabi and beats gender inequality. That would be fun.
What to write? Can we be certain that elections won’t be delayed? When I don’t even know what might happen by the time I finish writing this and you by the time you stop reading it, how does one answer the question? Doubt and uncertainty stalk the land. The Grim Reaper is about. They have become permanent in our lives, akin to festering pus-oozing sores. Pain is here to stay for what remains of my generation. Serves us right for being so selfish and stupid. Should one stick to the spiritual; to history? Not in the mood. Best to make it short and sweet – though it may not be so sweet for some – and intersperse it liberally with telling quotes.
I don’t envy the caretakers. They are on a hiding to nothing. It could soil their CVs instead of illuminating them. If elections take place on schedule their task will be less difficult: to hold them in a manner acceptable to the majority in times fraught with cageyness, skepticism, suspicion and violence – a tall order indeed. If they are delayed the task becomes onerous. From playing with fire they will be playing with hellfire. “Someone has to do it,” say the impatient. Sure, but there’s no point of a long caretaker unless they focus on fundamental structural changes in the political system to make it more democratic and representative, bring violence under control and pull the economy out of the hole into which has fallen yet again and also know how to do it, for the old standard operating procedure of running to the lending agencies may not necessarily work again. Not easy. Today we are in a deep hole yet we go on digging. Stop digging.
I don’t know about the human female, but as a dog breeder I can tell you that if an animal has too many abortions the danger is that she will finally have abnormal or mentally challenged progeny. It should be the same with horses: Hina Rabbani Khar will tell you, as should Her Majesty the Queen of England and Sheikh Mohammad of Dubai. Worse, inbreeding makes progeny wonky.
That is what we have done with our political system that passes for democracy. It was aborted at inception when no fresh elections were held for our Constituent Assembly that had been elected in India a year before Pakistan was born. Then Governor General Ghulam Mohammad who led the first bureaucrat’s coup meddled with that assembly, as did his successor. Next came General Ayub Khan’s first military coup in 1958 followed in 1969 by the second by General Yahya Khan, the “fat and flabby” general whom ‘The Economist’ called ‘Tweedle Khan’.
Our first national elections were held in 1970 but the Bhutto-Yahya Combine aborted them too for, horror of horrors, the short-dark Bengalis would rule the roost. By denying them their democratic rights we opened the door to Indian meddling. Result: a lost war and disintegration of the country. Result: an abnormal constituent assembly in a now deformed country.
Bhutto rigged the 1977 elections. Result: a countrywide agitation. To save his government Bhutto banned the bottle and let the mullah genie out of another bottle in which Allama Iqbal had bottled him. Today it has grown to enormous proportions.
Result: came General Zia, not on horseback but on the crest of the political mullah genie’s wave to make true Muslims of us. He aborted the Bhutto-Yahya creature produced in a test tube and used its carcass to create a party-less, parentless creature of his own in an unholy test tube. He held elections in 1985, only to abort them in 1988. Result: Zia signed his death warrant.
Came the Nineties came sham democracy: three elected governments were aborted ‘constitutionally’ while the last miscarried in 1999. From 2002 to 2008 we have had two elected parliaments that produced abnormal litters. Meantime, we have had three abnormal constitutions, the last getting increasingly abnormal with each passing government.
So far so good because as we produce generation-after-generation the progeny should become better provided we breed scientifically and new bloodlines keep coming into the gene pool. But if we abort elections again they had better know what they are doing because from playing with fire they will start playing with hellfire in a country where people are much more aware and where violence, death and destruction wrought by terrorists and Mafiosi of mindboggling hues stalk the land. Best to hold elections and let them abort themselves or abort the forces that are destroying our country. Get on with it, don’t worry so much about the litter and let the bloodlines improve gradually.
Another unfortunate practice is incest and inbreeding – cousin marriages in humans. The danger is deformity, abnormal or poor progeny with low IQs getting lower with more inbreeding. Cousin marriages amongst Muslims are 70 percent. Is that why collectively Muslims have become arguably the stupidest people in the world, unarguably the most backward, illiterate and underdeveloped?
Our abnormal political system has had multiple abortions and much inbreeding too: thus it is riven with dynasticism. One politician goes and a relative replaces him. Nothing changes. Permanent change only comes naturally, even if there is blood on the street. We hankered after this system, now we have to lump it and live with it. Take a relaxant.
Talking of the Muslim condition especially in our subcontinent and why it is so pathetic, the far-sighted Maulana Abul Kalam Azad said in an interview to Lahore’s ‘Chattan’ magazine in April 1946: “Muslims must realize that they are bearers of a universal message. They are not a racial or regional grouping in whose territory others cannot enter. Strictly speaking, Muslims in India are not one community; they are divided among many well-entrenched sects. You can unite them by arousing their anti-Hindu sentiment but you cannot unite them in the name of Islam. To them Islam means undiluted loyalty to their own sect.
“Apart from Wahhabi, Sunni and Shia there are innumerable groups who owe allegiance to different saints and divines. Small issues like raising hands during the prayer and saying Amen loudly have created disputes that defy solution. The Ulema [religious scholars] have used the instrument of takfeer [fatwas declaring someone as infidel] liberally. Earlier, they used to take Islam to the disbelievers; now they take away Islam from the believers. Islamic history is full of instances of how good and pious Muslims were branded kafirs. Prophets alone had the capability to cope with these mindboggling situations. Even they had to pass through times of afflictions and trials. The fact is that when reason and intelligence are abandoned and attitudes become fossilized then the job of the reformer becomes very difficult.
“But today the situation is worse than ever. Muslims have become firm in their communalism; they prefer politics to religion and follow their worldly ambitions as commands of religion. History bears testimony to the fact that in every age we ridiculed those who pursued the good with consistency, snuffed out the brilliant examples of sacrifice and tore the flags of selfless service. Who are we, the ordinary mortals; even high ranking Prophets were not spared by these custodians of traditions and customs.”
Now take the greatest Indian-Pakistani Muslim leader of them all, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and his educated, cultivated, international, modern, moderate and enlightened mindset that he spelled out so clearly in his seminal speech of August 11, 1947 to Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly. That speech is our social contract, our touchstone. It should be the preamble of our constitution. Our constitution should have been based on it, not on the ‘Objectives Resolution’ that they created two years after Pakistan’s birth. How can a birth certificate take so long to emerge unless there is malfeasance intended – change the father’s name? We have done this for all intents and purposes for this is not Jinnah’s Pakistan. Remember young Jinnah wanted to be a Shakespearean stage actor. The old Jinnah wrote this letter on January 6, 1945 to Mohammad Masud who sought his opinion on the role of Indian Muslims in the sub-continent’s film industry.
“I am in receipt of your letter of December 30th 1944, and I wish more Musalman’s would enter into this realm of film industry, and I shall always be glad to do all I can to help it. I have noted that Mr. Mahboob is producing a historical picture ‘Humayun’, and if I have an opportunity of seeing it I might be able to express my opinion about it, but generally I do wish that more Musalmans would enter this line, as there is plenty of scope for them in the film industry.”