Thursday, 22 October 2009

Let My People Go

Zardari has lost miserably, failed us all by doing what he did by sending the Sharifs back to Raiwind. What was the need of doing it all if not to stir up another storm in the cup, hide his inadequacies, deceive the nation, and to do the bidding of the not-so-secret masters? Benazir’s burial shroud has blood on it which is still moist, and here we are with her widower not only benefiting from her disappearance from the stage of Pakistani politics but rather proving that he does not have the required grey matter in his upper storey to conduct the day-to-day affairs of the State, leave alone save us away from American clutches.

There was no need to confiscate shipping containers, to use them as physical barriers placed to block the peoples’ wishes, plant a policeman every two feet as if he were a tree sampling, activate the emergency and intelligence agencies, connive and conspire with his cronies, promise bribes, and threaten those who would not comply. But there were brave men who refused to do the dark duty conceived of in the Presidency, and they resigned because they had to in order to stand tall like giants; these men deserve roads to be named after them.

Altaf’s London-backed Brigade spoilt Karachi’s peace by going about on a killing spree, the in-born silliness displayed by Musharraf in the form of imposition of an emergency, and Nawaz Sharif’s announcement that a Long March to Islamabad would be undertaken on 16 March 2009, all these tensions have finally become part of our national history. These fires have been put out, the sparks have vanished into the cabinets of the conniving foreign embassies, dissipated into the dark hearts of agents provocateur, and made the most powerful men in the country—the Pharaohs of our turbulent times—to lower their wings not in humility but rather in humiliation. Their retinue of Qaroons (financial) and Hamans (religious) have nothing to offer to the nation if they do not mend their ways, and that repair job requires relentless accountability, which only a Long March reaching its intended destination can achieve.

It is perhaps too premature to say what will come out of all this. So far no notification or positive follow-up has been initiated by the sitting ducks—you may call that the government—to reverse the situation. Zardari has made more promises, Gilani has reassured, others have issued statements, all have done what they are good at, producing an obese nothing, a zero sum game.

Nawaz Sharif—after he was deported by Musharraf back to his sponsors (the mighty KSA)—should have continued with the Long March. He was clever enough to hire a crane to remove all physical hurdles in his path one by one, getting rid of those awful shipping containers placed by the government on the yellow brick road to the federal capitol. If the container is a symbol of anything at all, it is this: Zardari will wind up in one very soon if he persists in such tomfoolery. In the next election, if Musharraf is alive as a keen contester, he ought to apply for the new symbol: a shipping container.

Nawaz Sharif defied the Section 144 orders, and then broke out and away from his residence, some police officers became conscientious objectors, while others resigned their government posts. All this is a very positive sign for a nation whose power players never make us happy with their performance. Nawaz should have marched right up to the capitol with a sea of disgruntled citizens wishing to tear off the togas of the corrupt senators, let loose a few Brutuses, and sent shivers up official spines.

With a thousand Long Marches announced each year by various leaders, at least Nawaz had one God-given chance of accomplishing it with style. Again, he listened to the liars, the cheats, the swindlers, the vote manipulators, and the foreign-sponsored candidates. Nothing too violent might have happened in Islamabad, the government might have witnessed the people-power, and America the un-beautiful would surely have read the writing on the wall: stop playing with our destinies because we have taken charge of it now.

The show of strength might have achieved perfection but it did not; the Long March got called off when the official spin-doctors wove another web of deception, foot-dragging, and of dilly-dallying. When the government, with all its might, was unable to curb the start of the Long March, it succeeded in ensuring it never went too far beyond river Ravi.

The Pakistani judiciary’s role in the destruction of Pakistani idealism, and abetting one dictator after another need not be discussed here but suffice it to say, that the troika of the lords of the courts, the Armed Forces and the well-funded debauched clergy has always made us pay a very high price for their collective follies. We need neither more faces of the World Bank officials, nor those of the American ambassadors at our decision makers’ doorsteps. Whenever we wish to work seriously, they interrupt us with their silly plans. Assuming such high public offices, our men often forget what train they are riding; it is called the Pakistan Express. But they de-rail it, divert it to destinations decided in Washington and London, and then jump off while it is still moving not towards its intended destination but a cliff.

Every time some lunatic comes to Pakistan to teach us democracy and hand out borrowed freedom, we ought to initiate a Long March, perhaps at the rate of one each day until all problems are solved locally.

Long live the people; now let my people go.

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