Symbolic acts | Pakistan Today

Symbolic acts

  • Influencing generations

The modern day Republic of Turkey’s founder, and leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, whereas can and has been criticised by many across the Muslim world for transforming Turkey from a country home to Islamic Khilafat into a secular state influenced and driven by the western norms and values, a harsh and undeniable reality stands tall till date; he saved a Muslim country from meeting its absolute doom. Many may very well argue that it was merely a name sake Muslim country that he left behind, and his saving was just a symbolic act, the present day is a far better witness to the power, and influence his symbolic act holds. Turkey, despite being a proudly labelled secular state, is very well one of the countries (if not the one) leading the Muslim world today, and is looked upon by the latter for raising her voice in representation of the otherwise ailing Muslim ummah.

While it is true that concrete actions speak louder than words, to look at it from a slightly different perspective, one comes across another fact; a more concealed fact that is. A fact that many a times, perhaps, merely symbolic acts hold more power than concrete actions altogether can. For their impact influences generations to come. Although this might not be an intended case.

The Indian sub-continent under the rule of Mughal empire also remained host to such symbolic acts that have, decades down the line of independence, influenced Pakistan, and Muslim generations raised here; if not India. A few prominent examples would be the creation of exemplary infrastructure rather than raising of an exemplary nation, focus and spending on lavish living rather than imparting knowledge and education, so on and so forth. While these acts were merely symbolic, and may not have been intended to radiate negative influence, that too for generations to come, they still did. An illiterate nation lagging severely with respect to modern time, and age, is a living example of the influence of our predecessors.

And surprisingly, this is not all! A real irony is that this infected mindset has been inherited by our present day leadership(s), and elites, further pushing our already ailing nation into the dark, and deep ditch of suffering.

There has been much debate and talk regarding some measures of Prime Minister Imran Khan owing to their uniqueness, probably, since such steps have never been taken before by any leadership during the course of our history. Despite all the criticism, and the very possibility that the steps being criticised might not generate the desired result(s) in the long run, a fact that remains unattended is that these steps initiated by PM Khan are also symbolic in their very nature. They may not bear fruit by achieving their designated objectives, but will certainly go a long way in influencing the “to an extent corrupt” mindset, not just of leadership(s), and the elite(s), but the nation as well.

The government may be lacking in many aspects, and may be confronted by many challenges (many of which could be its own created), however, the acts that deserve acknowledgement and appreciation may not be left ignored, and unappreciated. Particularly, when these acts are symbolic

Let us look at some of these acts, and what they possibly symbolise.

With PTI emerging victorious in the general election 2018, PM Khan resorted to his longing vow of austerity to the nation, not just in his personal capacity, but with time has directed his party leadership, particularly the public office bearers to do the same in their capacities. From giving up living in the lavish Prime Minister House, to selling luxury vehicles; from cutting down the hefty protocols, to cutting down cabinet spending; Khan kept his promise to the nation. Of course there are gaps that get highlighted by the media every now and then, and seek the chief executive’s attention for much required righting in order to keep the austerity drive at a hands distance from being damaged.

Whereas the austerity drive has been criticised severely not just by the opposition, but many intellectuals too on how much would it serve for the country to revive economically, and they stand right at their stance, perhaps. Such measures cannot save the country’s drowning economy. That requires drastic measures at a much greater scale. But somehow maybe we all miss Khan’s idea! The idea that leaders need to reflect the nation. An ailing nation can at least relate to a simple leadership. One living in the PM House can never be a representation of a nation that struggles every day to earn bread for their family.The least our leadership(s) can do is appear to be like the nation, rather than looking like aliens from another World.

Similarly, giving up the idea of living in the PM House followed by the move to convert PM House into a university while may not result in establishment of a world class educational institute, but what it will certainly do is imprint the nation with a simple message; that the government finally wants to set the priorities, that have been wrong for generations, right. Priorities that include giving up lavish livings for imparting education to the generations to come.

Likewise, setting up shelter homes for the homeless, and providing them with food, and basic healthcare, although may not be perfect in its execution, but it very much symbolises the concept of a welfare driven state, and Pakistan’s initiation of its journey towards becoming one.

The government may be lacking in many aspects, and may be confronted by many challenges (many of which could be its own created), however, the acts that deserve acknowledgement and appreciation may not be left ignored, and unappreciated. Particularly, when these acts are symbolic!

For they hold great power to reinforce themselves for times, and influence generations to come.