By Humayun Gauhar

Water is life’s elixir. The Arabic word Sh’ar means path that leads to water because water is the source of life. The word Sharia comes from Sh’ar. The Sharia of the Quran is the manual that keeps one on that path, the correct path, Sirat al Mustahqeem.

Thus I’m quite fed up with the hackneyed response of apologists about seeing the glass half empty instead of half full. I recall it was Finance Minister Sartaj Aziz who first used the phrase in frustration and we have been landed with it ever since. It depends on what’s in the glass. If it is the elixir of life there’s one way of looking at it, if it contains poison one looks at it the other way.  If a glass is half full of the elixir of life and growing, one looks at it positively. If it is receding, one looks at it negatively. But if the glass contains increasing poison instead of water, one looks at it negatively.

Our elected government is taking revenge through what it calls ‘democracy’ and has evaporated the elixir of life entirely. Our glass now contains poison increasing by the day. In that sense, yes, the glass is half full and growing. But how could one look at it positively unless one is suicidal?

Make a balance sheet of our condition. Look at the positives first. This parliament is about to complete its full term for the second time in our history, though it has spawned two prime ministers of the sort that one could never have imagined. That’s one. I strain to search for the second.

Yes, I’ve found another, the best one so far. Since our entire system is the disease and it is getting trashed in the eyes of an increasing number of people, bringing its demise closer, that’s a positive. Sure we also have many inherent positives that God has endowed us with, but we have put them to sleep.

A look at all the current negatives will make this article unending. So let’s see some. We produce more babies in one year than the populations of Jordan and Switzerland and many other countries. There is no way they can be raised into healthy and educated human beings that contribute to society instead of becoming leaches that bring it down. There is no way we can have enough utilities, civic amenities, schools, hospitals, food, shelter and jobs to cater to an exploding population. The system has spawned ignorance and ignorance is the source of our problems, but our governments have paid scant attention to it because it serves the purposes of the ruling gang with feudal mindsets even if they are urbanites for an ignorant populace doesn’t question its oppression. None has bothered to educate people about planned families, except for a time Ayub Khan and he was thoroughly lampooned for his troubles even by those who think they are educated.

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We have lost our sovereignty and effectively become America’s slaves. I agree: America and Pakistan should file for an amicable divorce and recast their relationship based on mutual interest instead of one-way American self-interest only, but the onus for that is entirely on us. If we don’t respect our sovereignty, why should they? We have to protect it, not they. Such a scenario is most unlikely but it would be best for both countries. We can start afresh without any pie-in-the-sky expectations from one another. To live in isolation won’t change the reality that America is so advanced that it has reached the moon and mars and will soon ask Malik Riaz to build Baharia towns on them, while we can’t even see the moon. There is a lot we can learn from America, particularly in science and technology, its more egalitarian society and its original ideology enshrined in that great document, ‘The Declaration of Independence’ which in no way is repugnant to Islam.  

Poverty is increasing, even amongst the upper middle class. High inflation is causing real incomes to shrink, especially amongst the majority that is on salaries. High interest rates increase inflation, causes causing existing investment to shrink and drives away new investment, so no job creation, making matters worse. Utilities have gone down the drain. Corruption is rife, touching loot and plunder. Anarchy, still in pockets, is everywhere.

There are no governments, federal or provincial, only dumb charades of them. A look at the opposition makes one want to cry. Synchronized be damned, all three branches of government are at loggerheads. Leaders of all institutions are suffering from grave doubts about their honesty and probity. Some claim that they can’t even see what’s going on, though the alleged bottles of a pretty girl don’t escape their attention. Justice is absent, except of the gallery-pleasing kind. Hundreds of thousands of cases are pending at all levels in the judiciary, with under trial prisoners already having spent more time in prison than their alleged crimes would warrant if found guilty. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Even the light from the onrushing train has gone. The tunnel is about to collapse. You know all the negatives that make the glass half empty getting emptier. Why labour the point?  

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Now to a big negative that has been bothering me for days. When we reopened the NATO supply routes the US state department spokeswoman said that both sides made mistakes and both said sorry. I asked then what we had said sorry about. To expect a reply would be juvenile. Not even a murmur from the foreign office or ISPR. Thus the assumption has to be that the state department’s spokeswoman was correct. We did make a mistake and we did say sorry, even if the US did too. What was it? What could it be?

Is it that our mistake was not to inform the US about the post we had set up in Salala when it was originally agreed that both sides would keep the other informed about any posts they establish on their respective sides? Is this that led to the ‘mistaken’ US attack on Salala killing two dozen of our soldiers? Is it this what we said sorry for? I wonder. There’s no way of telling when it keeps embarrassingly emerging that people amongst us were either helping America or non-state terrorists? There are agents everywhere, we run into them all the time and we don’t even know. Yes, our glass is half full of poison, and growing. Pitiful.

Calling the US-Pakistan relationship love-hate is facetious. There is no love or hate between states, only self-interest. If it is mutual self-interest so much the better, for then the relationship lasts. If it is based not on mutuality but on one-side-take-all, then hate submerges love. Ours is a symbiotic relationship in which one needs the other like a necessary evil. When one stops needing the other the symbiosis ends. We constantly need the US for bailouts; the US needs us for helping it to continue its dirty work in Afghanistan. It’s as simple as that. So the US keeps us dependent and in need, we keep the US stuck in Afghanistan to keep it needing us. The strategy works for both: keep each in need of the other. It also degrades both, for it replaces water with poison.

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This sick strategy will continue until the US brings its own fossil fuels into play and turns OPEC into an irrelevance. Then its interest in the region will change. When it does, the money of the mare will dry up and we may never see her go again. Instead, we will see dictators, kings and princelings go the other way – out. The process has started. America may not even remain so interested in the security of Israel when they realize that in protecting it and kowtowing to its contrariety they have made a mess of their own country. Hardly a price to pay but they have to keep paying it after having handed over key sectors of their state to Israel and its whims and wants.

I’m not saying that all this will happen before the end of 2014, but that it will happen I’m certain of at the rate the world is changing. The lights off are about to go off. When they come on again it will be a different world, though whether it will be a brave-new one I don’t know.