Ablaze in the crucible of time | Pakistan Today

Ablaze in the crucible of time

Candid Corner

  • It is all in the mind. It is all in the way we think. If that changes, the rest will change, too

“Most people would sooner die than think. In fact, they do so.”

– Bertrand Russell

It is a favourite pastime in this country to hoist people to the cradle of invincibility and to pull them down to the dust without as much as the blink of an eye. It also appears that whatever lies between stardom and notoriety is inexplicably lost to the average mind. In the process, people persist in chanting slogans to the glorification of some who may have brought untold misery to a vast bulk of them, but continue to live in their imagination, even awaiting resurrection in time as part of a support mechanism to address existential challenges. The doings and un-doings of these leaders have, somehow, remained embedded in the psyche of the followers which has propelled their journey espousing servitude as a way of life and a possible asset for en-cashing at some time in the future.

We don’t preach ideas. We don’t promote reason. We don’t even ask for logical and sustainable arguments. We remain immersed in our petty infatuations of what we believe will prove to be our salvation, be it our predilection for self-righteousness and affectation, our ill-cultivated faith in errant individuals, or our inability to move away from a course chartered to ensure our eternal enslavement. We are pressing on relentlessly with eyes closed and minds blocked.

We remain silent when doing so is a crime. We remain inactive when we should be out fighting for our rights. We present the other cheek when hit undeservedly across the face. We remain unmoved in the face of injustice and brutality. Dogma-afflicted and existence-challenged, we aggressively embrace the degenerate trajectory that we are so precariously perched on.

The mornings begin with news of murder and mayhem and the evenings come laden with tales of lies and falsehood broadcast at prime time, without shame, without compunction. This is the narrative which we propound and this is the narrative that sinks in smoothly with people who are resigned to a future ensconced in enslavement. There is virtually no escaping the dragnet which has been so cunningly cast around.

Back in 1947, there was hope– there was hope that we would be able to face and accept the reality of our new existence and address the mammoth challenges so as to build a foundation of strength on which the edifice of the new-born state would stand. But, that is not the path that we chose. Instead, we imposed upon the state a narrative that was coloured in the blood of those less powerful, less endowed and less relevant than the ones who had taken on the mantle of leadership and who thought there would be no end to their suzerainty.

Be it the Ayub Khans, the Zias, the Musharrafs, the Bhutto/Zardaris, the Sharifs, or the sundry, they were all incensed by the eternity of their dream. To make it happen, they employed tactics and mechanisms which were rooted not in provisioning for the people what was their right, but depriving them of even their ability to think that they, too, could have some dreams. It was perceived as an exclusive prerogative of the powerful elite to indulge in loot and plunder as they might deem fit. Nobody had a right to question or raise a finger at their spree of denuding the state of both its riches and resolve.

There is no count of what has gone wrong except in seeing the emaciated body Pakistan has been reduced to. There is no flesh that still covers it. It is just bones, bare bones which cannot be skinned any more

They took turns at their game with the dictators and the so-called democrats sitting atop family oligarchies alternating in the seat of power, wrenching a logjam over the resources of the state. So, while the personal coffers of the rulers ballooned, those of the state depleted to the verge of bankruptcy.

The financial deprivations were coupled with practising vile discrimination among the people along multiple divides, be these real or artificial. The state, inevitably, became weaker with the passage of time. While some had more than their due claim on what was theirs by way of right, others were denied even their basic needs. They are the ones who continued to sink into pits with no bottoms with their bodies frail and their voice throttled. They were reduced to mere skeletons walking in a daze.

There was no reason for perpetrating this inherent discrimination leading to frequent criminal manifestations: the targeting of the Hazaras and other similar communities, the deprivations of the believers of faiths different from the one espoused by the state and its diehard adherents, practising extreme forms of bigotry, intolerance and brutality, or ostracising all who dared raise a voice of dissent for demanding what was legitimately theirs and what was assured to them as part of the social contract contained in the Constitution. It is like their right to live in peace was taken away.

The society has been systematically rent asunder by the vested interests who are only digging in deeper, now that they are faced with real-time challenges encompassing their own survival as a community, with exclusive rights to exploit the resources of the country and treacherously manipulating people to cling to their crumbs of hope that their deliverance would yet come– sometime, somehow.

It is the brink, if only people were willing to see. We are standing on the edge because the system that we practice in the country is unjust. The ethos that we have developed is so, and anything based on this is bound to be discriminatory with a minority benefiting from what is on offer and the majority left out in the cold scavenging for their measly morsels. With deprivations enhancing and frustrations rising, this cannot work any further.

It does not relate as much to one form of the government or the other, be it the presidential or the parliamentary, as both are essentially democratic. It has more to do with the way we think of ourselves in preference to the others we keep deprived. It has to do more with the absence of equality and equity that this system promotes among the people with some remaining more privileged than the others. It is also how the justice system works in the country with highly questionable reprieves granted to the rich and powerful, and the poor remaining deprived of even its bare essentials.

Pakistan is ablaze in the crucible of time. There is no count of what has gone wrong except in seeing the emaciated body that the country has been reduced to. There is no flesh that still covers it. It is just bones, bare bones which cannot be skinned any more. But, the vultures hover up there with their greed showing no signs of diminishing.

We have come a full circle. It is back to the beginning. It is back to the people. Let the scourge of fear be lifted. Let the shackles of enslavement be cast off. It is all in the mind. It is all in the way we think. If that changes, the rest will change, too.

Speak for “thy lips are free”.

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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