In the New Pakistan | Pakistan Today

In the New Pakistan

  • Can we revert to some old things, please?

‘Who writes your scripts?’ an excited Graham Gooch had asked Ian Botham when the latter had taken a wicket on his very first delivery upon making one of his famous comebacks. Amazing as it was, Botham’s cricketing story is boring when compared with Imran Khan’s political career, who has made history after being ridiculed, written off, called every name under the sun, and personally attacked more than anybody in Pakistan’s history. Khan’s proving himself as a study in tenacity (bordering on insanity) and single-minded resolve in the face of astronomical odds, where anybody else would have quit long ago, has been stuff fantasies are made of.

Indeed, it would be a perfect climax for a fairy tale. Only this isn’t a film which can conveniently be ended at the high point with ‘The End’ or ‘The Beginning’. His recent nation-wide electoral success is also very different from when he had won the world cup for his country. That had come at the twilight of his career – in fact it had proved to be his last cricketing assignment – and therefore Khan holding the cup remained a lasting image in the collective consciousness of the nation. That he had a sparkling career before that was also a big help, of course. How the New Pakistan will fare under Khan’s leadership will now decide what sort of legacy he will eventually leave.

Of course, Khan has my best wishes for the Naya Pakistan he intends to build. However, unlike the more exuberant of his fans I cannot bring myself to be anything more than cautiously optimistic. Of course, I would be delighted if Khan can successfully carry out the human development he has promised, and has something significant to show in health, education, and employment sectors. However, I would still be reasonably satisfied if we can revert to some old things in the New Pakistan, not all of which depend on Imran Khan alone.

Of course, if (and when) democracy and its institutions flourish in Pakistan, the nation will inevitably enjoy the resulting fruits. But in the meantime, can we have fewer lectures on democracy, civilian supremacy, sanctity of vote, etc? Thanks to the Bhutto and Sharif clans (and their minions), this sort of cynical lip service has reached a stage where one is tempted to reach for the nearest blunt object and do something rash on the mere mention of any such cliché.

Can we revert to the time when people had enough shame not to label the likes of Nawaz Sharif and Ata ul Haq Qasmi Pakistan’s Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara, or Pablo Neruda?

Can we revert to a Pakistan with fewer Nostradamuses? The multitudes upon multitudes of journalists and paid or unpaid ‘intellectuals’ who, it appears, are incapable of going a day without making prophesies, especially those who are always wrong on all their predictions? The same goes for ‘pundits’ who have a ready analysis for everything (almost always superficial and wishful). Is it too much to ask for?

Can we revert to the happy days when one never heard the word ‘bayania’? More realistically, can there be a ban on commentators and politicians using the word more frequently than say, once every week? As far as I know, even if the term wasn’t coined by him, it was given widespread currency by Javed Ahmad Ghamidi. Let there be no mistake: I like Ghamidi sahib; and he must have had all the good intentions, but he has unconsciously created a monster that needs to be slayed. Let’s concentrate on the basic necessities of life, leaving the intellectualiSing for another time.

Can we also revert to a less ‘pious’ Pakistan? Where one is not ‘corrected’ when one says Ramzan instead of Ramadan, and Khuda-Hafiz instead of Allah-Hafiz? Where it’s not a sin for the children, the sick, the elderly, and the non-Muslims to be seen eating during fasting hours?

Can we revert to the time when people had enough shame not to label the likes of Nawaz Sharif and Ata ul Haq Qasmi Pakistan’s Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara, or Pablo Neruda? If no legislation can be done to ensure this, can the ‘intellectuals’ who can’t resist the temptation at least have the minimum decency and consideration for the dead souls (if not for their own readers) of writing Nielsen Mandela and Bablu Neruda?

Last but not the least, can we revert to a pre-‘fusion’ or pre-‘tribute’ era, where musicians make their own melodies instead of constantly cannibaliSing past artistes (and without exception making a royal mess of everything they touch)? Kya hum (wo din) dekhein ge?

Hasan Aftab Saeed

The author is a connoisseur of music, literature, and food (but not drinks). He can be reached at