Opinion Maker

Wanting something and getting it are two different things, my friend

By Humayun Gauhar

After my last article, ‘Snakes and Ladders’, some said that I had not mentioned the role of the army in Pakistan’s decline. I was writing about the moment, our current political dispensation. If you look at the not-so-long sweep of our history, of course the army has played a role in equal measure. But if we wish to come to the right conclusions we must first realize that they are all from the same ruling class in different garb. Pakistan’s decline has been caused its entire ruling class, not by any particular section of it alone. More importantly, we must also realize that in the final analysis it is we the people who are the root of the problem because it is we who foist our odious rulers on ourselves, either by voting them in or celebrating when the jackboots start trampling. Roots blaming branches is ridiculous for branches are born from the roots. Understand?

One cannot be simplistic. Of the many reasons for our decline, the most important is that we never got on to the right path. An assembly elected in undivided India was charged with making a constitution for Pakistan. It took nine years in searching for a device to deny East Pakistan its majority and thus power. During this time it changed character many times and lost whatever legitimacy it had. Unrepresentative governments came and went with alarming speed. That device was ‘The Parity Principle’ that assumed the populations of the two wings to be equal. A mutilated version of the British India Act of 1935 became our constitution in 1956. It was anti-democracy for it denied East Pakistanis their rightful majority. It didn’t stand a chance.

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When such things happen they create a vacuum of governance. Forces better organized intervene to fill the vacuum. First, two gentlemen from the Finance Services became governor general and prime minister respectively. Then the military intervened in 1958 in cahoots with some civilians. There was much celebration. And so the funereal dirge of musical chairs continues. Pakistan broke in the middle because of denying the majority its majority.

If you look at the sweep of Pakistan’s history you will realize the truth in the saying, “As you sow so shall you reap”. So too, if you take the wrong turn: you will reap the whirlwind. We took the wrong turn from the very beginning and today are reaping the harvest, eating the fruit of the seeds of ideological confusion all planted, watered and nurtured by us. Our harvest is the product of minds enslaved to either the former master or the current cleric.

Captive minds cause political disorder – claiming to believe in one thing but following quite another. Behind the veil of our copycat political system lies hidden a throwback to the dynasticism that was natural to us before colonization. Also hidden behind it is various interpretations of Islam, ignoring the fact that the Word of God can mean only one thing. Contradictions are caused by clerics masquerading as scholars and by half-baked scholars distorting the interpretations of genuine scholars. Aping alien systems deforms political evolution; following the cleric distorts Faith. Some follow one ideology, some the other, while the hopeless majority follows a mish-mash of both, all deviant. The spirit of either is altogether absent. Those who claim the western ideology can’t practice it in its true spirit for they don’t understand that the spirit comes from an inner impulse. Unless one understands the objectives of God one can never understand the spirit of the Faith. We don’t understand that the prime objective of all ideologies is the improvement of the human condition and the protection of God’s Creation – not just human beings but the air, land, waters and vegetation. None nullifies the other for all have the same secular objective and secularism, which means ‘worldly’, is inherent in Islam for it is a way of life that guides us about how to live in this world, including spiritually. And ‘spiritualism’ is the personal faith of each individual for which he and she are answerable to God alone and not to any human being, no matter how high and mufti they may claim to be. The difference lies in the paths they take to get to the same goals, which is the improvement of the human condition and to get close to the Creator.

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Man has not yet learned these simple lessons. Perhaps he never will for the milk of good and the slush of evil both slosh around in his bosom in equal measure. It all depends on which of the two is uppermost at a particular time. Surprising for a species that has begotten great things. It probably has to do with the animal that lurks just beneath our skins. Thus while Man has made phenomenal scientific progress he has made little societal progress. The caveman is ever present, everywhere.

The result is that today when the world is at the cusp of great upheaval Pakistan is at flashpoint. Its government is bankrupt. Its people have nothing, not even the fiction of independence and sovereignty. The silver lining is that there is national consensus on what the people want. But wanting something is one thing, my friend, and getting it is quite another. You have to go for it before you can get it. You have yet not worked out how, mairay humdum mairay dost.

We need to change soon for our own sakes, not for anyone else’s. America is desperate and Pakistan is the scapegoat. Desperate people do desperate things. America’s case for action against Pakistan is almost ready. If they are even more stupid than I think they are, action could come soon. Even with ‘surgical strikes’ America would be the biggest loser. The terrorists will be the only winners. If Pakistan’s military doesn’t retaliate, thinking, “Good, America has done our dirty work for us”, its stock will fall lower than the police’s. If it does, and America enlarges its action by attacking our infrastructure, all bets are off. The world would change.

With a world in such flux, with a diminishing superpower with multiple lost wars on its hands, a global financial collapse, only a fool would make predictions. But one thing is certain: with the global bully run by motor mouth village idiots gone, the world would eventually be a much better place.