Pity the nation that raises not its voice, save when it walks in a funeral; boasts not except amongst its ruins and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block.
Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.
Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting, farewells him with hooting, only to welcome another with trumpeting yet again.
Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years, whose strong men are yet in the cradle. Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation. Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Penned in 1934, these verses by Khalil Gibran seem a scathingly poignant indictment of the Pakistan of today. The miracle of life starts from a single cell. Islam terms the murder of one single human as the murder of all humanity. Millions lost their lives to give birth to the Pakistan we live in, yet not an iota of remorse is felt as we cruelly try to bludgeon it to death. Is it because we were undeservedly born free in the same Pakistan?
Like always what we have today is an erstwhile political juggler as a President with a Cabinet and bureaucracy tainted with allegations of massive corruption. In true realist fashion, this sets up a paradox. The ‘savior’ trusted to extract us from the quagmire we are in is the one who expressly does not practice the idealism he preaches. After all this is just a coarse definition of our statecraft. Inversely this idealism and the prevalent dichotomy has become our societal norm. Sixty years plus, gone are the days to blame everything on and everybody but ourselves. What is imperative now is to assume responsibility for the crisis ourselves and find solutions to get out of the morass we helped create.
What we have is a daily utilization of the Adam rationale: “It was Eve’s fault, she made me do it.” It is all linked to a larger mistaken philosophy that suggests if we just pass on the blame the problem will go away. In the end all this political and societal posturing does nothing to remedy the real issue of governance, accountability and a better society. What we fail to understand as a nation is that by doing nothing each one of us becomes an accessory to the very failings we see. These are the fruits of regressive philosophy and our chosen way of life.
Amongst our chequered political riddles, at the galling foremost, is how those who attain power willfully flit away the hope of a new beginning. To gain power they fake a penchant for democracy and justice. What they do in the post election scenario is to try everything to consolidate personal power. Cronies are brought in at crucial positions only so that personal interests are safeguarded in a mutually beneficial but unholy relationship. This whole episode is interesting in that it gives us a good example of, sometimes even out of a tragedy, how mediocre but unscrupulous politicians and individuals create a cult of their own personalities. The only requisites are a talent for self-publicity, emotional blackmail, sycophantic supporters who can string two or more words together and a compliant political party.
Einstein was as up to the mark as his theory of relativity when he said: “Degeneracy follows every autocratic system of violence, for violence inevitably attracts moral inferiors. Time has proven that illustrious tyrants are succeeded by scoundrels.” What would leave say a Maritian completely baffled is how Einstein’s scoundrels make it to the highest echelons of power in our teeming sea of humanity! We have walked in endless funerals burying our near and dear ones. Fatalistic that we are as a nation, we shoulder the dead to their final destination, bury them and wait for another funeral. We accept death yet allow our politics to be a hostage to those mortals long gone and living, awarding them the undue yet hallowed status of deities.
We see the country going to ruins, our necks perpetually between the sword and the block neigh a bleat. We welcome each ruler as a saviour, forgetting that the same is a proverbial phoenix; only that it rises not from the ashes but opulent hibernation while another of its kin ruled the roost. We dance our hearts away, our sweat and blood the elixir of life for these denizens of the lower regions. Then as time passes we see through the facade yet again, see the surreal monster that we helped create; we hound him away and fall in line to welcome, yet again, those that we had hounded out before.
Our sages numb with years helped pass us this legacy; our young oblivious to all, blame them and attend to their own things of more crucial import. Our thoughts and speech are fragmented, venomous; the focal points of our lives us and none else. We are casts, creeds, languages, members of varying social strata. Yes we are particles vacillating in a dizzying unending cycle trying to move within a given field waiting only to spin out of control from that given field that is nationhood. We, full of convoluted beliefs but devoid of religion, seek to reform the whole world but ourselves.
The paradox is that we have convinced ourselves that we are powerless. We view ourselves as weak, belittled and a distracted lot. There is no dearth of issues of national significance but never before has national politics been so bereft of a true leader and the masses of hope. We have become a nation in denial, lost in the dark catacombs of our dichotomies and fears forgetting that a true human spirit is powerful, flexible, creative, intelligent and resourceful. Ferdinand Foch summed it up aptly when he said: “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire”. It is all within each of us, tragically though, lying dormant.
We elect people who on attaining power turn to surrogates and turn the country into a client sate. These surrogates give cover to alien powers and form convoluted alliances. As a reward they are allowed to pursue their personal agendas with impunity; yet we, the constituents, allow them to do so. We, as a nation, have always sought refuge in the false premise that we never had the opportunity to choose our way. When a society attains this state of mind then self-destruction is not far away.
History teaches us that if a nation fails to make the necessary efforts to control its destiny, its fate is decided by others who bring unpredictable and unwanted ways of lives. We have to rewrite our history tainted with slogans of Pakistan first and Pakistan khappay. It is me who is at fault; it is for me to seek redemption by striving for a better Pakistan because after all, I am the nation.