It’s Our Country

The last few months have given us the feeling that it is indeed our own country we are living in. Had this not been so, we would not have appreciated the activities of the Election Commission and its uncompromising actions, the unbiased decisions of the honourable judges without fear or favour and the uncontrolled attacks of the media on the corrupt leaders, with the same enthusiasm as we have done. For the first time the Election Commission selected an interim PM, and all the parties accepted its decision with grace. However, ground realities remind me of a verse written by a young, talented journalist from Karachi, Umair Ali Anjum.
Mulk kyun sunsaan hey, wiraan kyun hen raastey/Ho chukka hey hadisa, ya hadisa honey ko hey
(Why is the country so desolate, why are the roads so empty; either a big tragedy has already struck or is soon going to strike.)
Target killings, sectarian riots, murders, suicide attacks, murders of religious scholars and intellectuals and sacrificing our brave soldiers. Superior Court judges have, without fear or favour, passed judgments and did not buckle under unjust pressure and press attacks. They even sent a sitting PM home when he tried to become too big for his boots. They continue to do a good job and that despite attacks from corrupt rulers and politicians.
Election campaigns are in full swing. The old, spent forces are again trying to lure simple people with attractive, false promises and slogans. A psychological war is also going on. A 20-year old film is being continuously shown in which we, by sheer fluke, achieved something (the winning of a crystal cup). Many other countries and people have done the same thing many times over, but you never hear them boasting. We continue making useless world records to be put in the Guinness Book rather than things for practical application. The media is more or less divided for or against (political parties); some for principles and some for favours. Parties that have accumulated vast funds by hook or by crook, are spending hundreds of millions on advertisements in the media and decorating (or defacing) the city with huge portraits. At least this is a bonus for rickshaw and taxi drivers, who can make a bit of money by carrying these posters.
Journalists are very active and continuously inventing new terms and slogans. After Imran Khan’s ‘Tsunami Plus’ in Lahore, some journalists called it a bouncer. After Nawaz Sharif’s meeting in Mansehra, the reply came as “Imran Khan sent a bouncer and Mian Sahib turned it into a sixer”. I am still at a loss to understand why Imran Khan chose the word ‘tsunami’ for the change he wants to bring about. The word has a negative implication of devastation, leaving everything shattered in its wake. There have also been some interesting cartoons in the newspapers. All the fun and games will be over by the end of May.
There is a big competition going on between the parties to make suitable alliances, with all of them trying to get the better of the other in the deal. Contrary to practices in developed and more civilised countries, our leaders have no shame in lying, making false promises and then, once elected, never even bother to visit their constituencies or undertake any development work. A lot of the money simply goes into personal pockets.
Musharraf has come back and is not at all ashamed or regretful of his past deeds. Now he wants to take part in the elections and he has come to “save Pakistan”, he claims. Sounds very much like a criminal preaching justice. The damage he did to the country is many times greater than that done by all previous military and civilian rulers put together. He killed Akbar Bugti in Balochistan, many innocent children in Lal Masjid and sold our sovereignty for peanuts. Now he is trying to convince the public that those crimes were in fact victories. Seeing his illusions of popularity reminds me of a verse written by Qateel Shifai:
Toba kartey hi merey jhoom key aaey baadal,/Shayed isko hi makafatey amal kehtey hain
(The moment I repented my sins, huge clouds appeared overhead. This is what is called the fruits of one’s own (wrong)doings.)
Here, with some modification, is another verse by Anjum:
Pervaiz bhi aa raha hey tamanna liey huey/Ae saakinane kucha-o-bazaar dekhna
(Musharraf is coming with (bad) intentions. Oh you people, be aware of his intrigues!)
Good, refreshing news is that our colleague (if I may be allowed to call myself a columnist) and senior and prominent anchorperson, Najam Sethi, has been selected to be the interim chief minister of Punjab. He was a minister in the interim setup of Malik Mairaj Khalid. He is a well-informed, well-read scholar of international affairs and, by using his little birdie, is able to foretell many events. His birdie is quite different to Wassan’s dreams. One usually dreams when one has indigestion, has been eating or drinking too much or when one is under tension. Only saintly people have dreams that have relevance to actual events.
My humble request to Sethi: please ask your birdie to take a bit of a rest lest it hints at you becoming our next interim prime minister all too soon. We need time for the efforts of the judiciary and the Election Commission to take affect and not go in vain. My prayers and best wishes go to Mr Sethi. May he fulfill his obligations efficiently and without fear or favour. Good deeds are always rewarded by the Almighty.
The performance of the honourable judges and the Election Commission has given us a new ray of hope. Let us hope that voters realise the importance and the sanctity of their vote and that they elect good, honest, educated, capable representatives for the assemblies so that the country can come out of the present morass. There is an urgent need to restore law and order, the economy and the sovereignty of the country. A great responsibility is placed on the shoulders of the people at the moment. They have to rise above party, feudal and cast politics and think of what is best for the country because:
Yeh watan hamara hey/Hum hain paasban iskey
(This is our county and we are its custodians)
NOTE: In my column of last week it was inadvertently said that Islamabad High Court had given me relief. In fact it was Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court (now a Supreme Court judge) who removed all the illegal restrictions imposed by the former dictator.