A new mask | Pakistan Today

A new mask

Let hope take a back seat, let’s be sold to the devil again

This time around, London has been wet and wonderful. If you say that to a Londoner, you would unmistakably get a stare. But for us who are soaked to the bone in the scorching heat of the sun with no electricity for most of the day and night, it comes as an indescribable blessing. Back home, even normal working has been reduced to the mercy of electricity as it comes and goes of its own sweet accord.

This trip to London has also been made that much more memorable as I have already had an extended session with that incomparable ideologue, Professor Amin Mughal, and I look forward to another one later in the week. We started where we had left off a considerable time ago and he was quick at chastising me for my impatience at the slowness of change in the country. He reiterated that change would inevitably go through the historical cycle and it is well nigh impossible to determine its time-span. The query whether it would come at all could only draw a broad smile which can be interpreted either way depending upon your disposition at a given moment in time.

It could also be that change is so slow in coming because we have so few of the likes of Amin Mughal now. An ideologue cannot be manufactured or chiselled from a raw mountain of talent alone. It is a pre-ordained phenomenon that, put together by nature’s hands, is chastened through bouts of painful struggle, tonnes of inexhaustible energy and unfailing determination in the face of monumental odds. The light that brightens it is inextinguishable. Even when its spread is restricted, it is seldom dark as the glow, somehow, finds a crevice to show through. Meeting him has always been a humbling experience, but meeting him this time around was more so because the dark around us is darker than ever before and the remnants of hope are fast receding. Should one capitulate to the darkness that pundits predict would soon envelope the entire spectrum? Left to Amin Mughal, these are times to sharpen your strategies and add further will and substance to your pursuits.

Through decades, Faiz has been an immortal inspiration for most of us. He inspires courage, invokes hope and fills you up with renewed dreams when you are on the verge. When one is lost for words and thoughts – a morbid state that most of us have now been reduced to – he is always there with a thought-provoking interjection to propel you to greater heights of aspiring. It is also so that when one is on the verge of losing hope, Faiz’s poetry comes with its incomparable serenading:

Is it the scent of blood or the caress of the beloved’s lips?

Behold, whence cometh the morning breeze

Is spring in the air or the prison overflows again?

Listen, whither cometh the sound of music

But, then, it is also impossible to constantly hide behind the edifice of poetry or the super-structures built by ideologues. For, in the end, we have to live in the present with its innumerable and unmistakable limitations and learn not only to cope with them, but also find a way around them to our avowed destination. That is what puts us head-on confronting the stark realities that mark the present times and make them so much more depressing in terms of dire paucity of intellect and capacities. There is a sea of mediocrity that is systematically perpetuating a culture of insensitivity and enslavement: so few of them control the fate of so many with traditional instruments of slavery rendered sharper by the day. They gloat over exploiting others’ hard work while there are millions who are constantly toiling only to bury themselves deeper in the tentacles of exploitation. Wishing an end to all this is not going to hasten it. It will come only if we have the courage to fight this rank injustice and cruelty. In addition to ideologues that are in short supply any way, we also need an extra ounce of resolve and a composite vision and determination to initiate something meaningful.

The three inherent mindsets – the political, the military and the clergy – that have led the country to this sorry pass remain unbending in their failed approach. They are corrupt, obscurantist, antiquated and decrepit suffering from delusional bouts of infallible superiority. The new entrants – the political aspirants attacking the status quo, the independent judiciary and the belligerent media – have created an informed environment, but that is not sufficient to forge a change. There has to be a catalyst that lights the fire and, apparently, there is no one around who could do that. While the forces of the status quo, enriched and empowered by the billions that they have looted, are endeavouring to further strangulate the electorate through coercion and incentives alike, the proponents of change are limited by their incapacities in vision, personnel and resources. Intellectually corrupt faces today adorn every platform and the hope for change that had been so fondly created has begun to die an early death.

This is not because there aren’t enough people desiring change. In fact, there is an increasing number of people who are yearning for it, but the question is who would bring it and how? With old hands who have sold their souls a million times over to despots of all hues and colours? With a cosmetic change of apparel, will they also be able to hide their spots and forsake their inherent intellectual dishonesty that is perpetually on sale for temporal gains? My guess – and that of millions of others who are equally disappointed at the turn of events – is an assertive no. We have been sold to the devil again. Let hope take a back seat and let mediocrity take over – wearing a new mask, may be!

The writer is a political analyst and a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. He can be reached at [email protected]

Raoof Hasan

The writer is a political analyst and the Executive Director of the Regional Peace Institute. He can be reached at: [email protected]; Twitter: @RaoofHasan.



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