The cruelty of power | Pakistan Today

The cruelty of power

  • The zenith and the abyss, are two extremes those hankering after power occupy 

 How things will look and feel and behave once the tsunami is over, no one knows. We have are guesses, hopes and estimates. All we know is that an all-pervasive pall of fear and uncertainty looms large over the lives of many. A sluggish economy is translating itself into many depressed, desperate households on the brink of destitution. The scandals involving the judiciary are sapping whatever little trust folks had in it. The accountability drive resembles a witch hunt where all those who are not part of the pack must be mauled into subservience. The cluelessness has triumphed over the promises of progress and prosperity.

The King and the King’s Men rode into the corridors of power on high horses of hope from atop their chariots of change when they promised heaven on earth for the great unwashed. And as they say, the vows made are storms forgotten in calms. Now, a year into power, the realities of governance, the intricacies involved in planning, and the burden of responsibility all have joined hands to show the King and his Men the bitter reality of troubles which haunt those on the throne.

Every now and then, they are challenged. And when they are challenged, the skeletons from their closets surface

There is a cruel thing about power, dear folks. It entices and lures those who don’t have it. It punishes and kills those who have it. It makes a fool of those who are wise. It emboldens the coward. And lastly, since it doesn’t have a loyal heart, it abandons and flees thus leaving those in love with it high and dry. Clichéd as it may sound, since it corrupts the hearts and minds of man, power also withers their souls.

The zenith and the abyss are two extremes those hankering after power, travel. The rise and fall continues, neither the rise is permanent nor the fall is forever. It is a circle sans escape.

Power has a strange personality. It offers great promise to those who vie for it. Once, they have it, the peril begins. Since, power has many lovers-cum-contenders; it flirts with one while married to another as it is filing for divorce from the third. That is one facet of its cruelty, also the most dangerous and the most pathetic one.

Those who want it, struggle. Those who have it, struggle to retain it. Those who lose it, struggle to regain it. And those who neither have the guts nor the mind or the muscle, talk about it with great relish. They side with one party as supporters and acolytes. They align their loyalty and interests with them. They oppose what and who their leader opposes. And they do so sans thought, rumination or worry. The divide between liberal and conservative, between right and left, between rebels and pliant ones that ultimately boils down to choice taken, camp chosen and side opted. Everything else is a mere extension of it. .

In our land, if one dares to ask the question ‘who holds the ultimate power’ the answer depends on whether one looks at it through the academic, bookish lense or how the state runs its day to day affairs. If we answer this question in a by the book manner, we’ll say that judiciary is all powerful to interpret the law, executive takes care of implementing and enforcing the law and legislature deals with the making and amending the law. Does it sound boring? Does it sound straight from some book titled Power in State 101? Well, if it does sound like that. It is!

In practice, the pressure groups, the so-called and ever-elusive establishment, the spymasters and their minions, the accountability watch dogs, the guardians of the land and people of consequence run the show. They manipulate and maneuver, they turn and twist, they alter and amend, they tear and cut all the rules, regulations and policies for the greater good.

Every now and then, they are challenged. And when they are challenged, the skeletons from their closets surface. It could be an immoral video, a lapse in paying taxes, something shameful and horrid from a long, long time ago. From honey trapping to anything that can bruise and haunt them comes to the fore.

The message is simple, those who won’t be tamed, will be shamed and turned into pariahs. For the greater good of the motherland, repute and lives of an individual should and must be slaughtered. With state and its perpetuity as an end, and individual as a means, the march of the system continues.

And as far as the disenchanted ones masquerading around as champions of change are concerned the following quote from Eric Hoffer sums them up nicely: “What surprises one, when listening to the frustrated as they decry the present and all its works, is the enormous joy they derive from doing so. Such delight cannot come from the mere venting of a grievance. There must be something more- and there is. By expatiating upon the incurable baseness and vileness of the times, the frustrated soften their feeling of failure and isolation. It is as if they said: ‘Not only our blemished selves; the lives of all our contemporaries, even the most happy and successful, are worthless and wasted.”



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