Pakistan stands disrobed exposing the rot at the root: warts and all. It faces the dire challenge at three levels, each at the high water mark. First and foremost, the raging deluge engulfing roughly half of Sindh - urban and rural; second, the allegations against the upper tier of Pakistan’s cricket squad in the worst ever match-(spot) fixing scandal and third the embarrassment caused to the army by the MQM chief’s statement inviting ‘patriotic general’s’ to take the ‘martial law-type action’ against corrupt politicians and feudal lords.
Fourth, concerns the public lynching of two blood brothers in front of a bemused public/police view - too horrid a spectacle for words, it speaks for itself. First the floods - about the worst ever in the sub-continental history pre-historically recalling Toofan-i-Nuh - Noah’s Deluge only without a boat and dedicated oarsmen to steer the vessel through. The administration has all but collapsed. Second, the disgraceful collapse of Pakistan’s cricket - its jewel of the crown in the world of sports.
Third, MQM supremo urged the’ patriotic generals’ to cleanse the body politic of all bad eggs systemically. Besides its wider implications for the Army and the country, the MQM chief by addressing ‘patriotic generals’ underscores the existence of unpatriotic ones also. Even rhetorically, such an assumption would speak ill of the Army ‘s unity of command - the bedrock of its structural soundness.
Adding strength to the MQM chief’s observation are the prime minister’s statement accusing generals - as a class - of having ‘ruled with thieves’. At a news conference, Sunday 29, August in Multan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said ‘...Every general seized power in the name of Ehtesab (accountability) but ruled like Musharraf in league with thieves.’ The PM’s statement snubbed generals as a body, across the board without exception. He went on to plead his inability to ‘understand why MQM Chief Altaf Hussain asked ‘patriotic generals’ for accountability at all’...
Could this be seen as lack of confidence in the Army as a unified whole or one divided between the patriotic and the unpatriotic variety? Either way it’s a most unkind reflection on the army. The prime minister also expressed his no confidence in the NGOs. ‘Eighty percent’ of the foreign aid, routed through the NGOs, would be consumed by the NGOs themselves ‘without accountability’.
The question for the government to put to itself is, why foreign donors should prefer to route their aid via the NGOs at all: Doesn’t it reflect badly on the credibility of the government? Furthermore, couldn’t the government persuade the foreign donors to deal directly with the government? As regards the government’s own effort to awaken the world conscience and persuade the international community to come to the aid of Pakistan, it is yet to elicit the desired response. And the government has itself to blame for it.
According to press reports Pakistan Consulate in New York was given a whole hour by the Stock Exchange to come and use their ‘front screen’ to mobilize support for the flood-hit Pakistan and the suffering millions.
The precious 80-minute slot worth a million dollar was inexcusably thrown away. Instead of giving a detailed picture of the havoc played by the floods the gentleman from the Pakistan Consulate appeared on the screen without proper homework.
A half-hearted appeal was all that they had to make on camera in the midst of a cluster of Pakistan flags.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during his visit to Pakistan (August (15-16) after a survey of the flooded areas said ‘the flooding in Pakistan was the worst ever’ disaster he had ever seen. He ‘urged’ foreign donors to ‘come forward’ to the help of ‘about 20 million’ affected people. ‘I will never forget the destruction and suffering I have witnessed today. In the past I witnessed natural disasters around the world but nothing like this’, he said. It is a sensitive man’s deep heartfelt reaction, unmatched by any one of our own leaders.
While flood waters advance on and on like the Mongol hordes our defenders seemed engaged in turning the calamity into photo opportunity. The media is doing a commendable job projecting real time pictures and images of utter misery of Pakistani millions mustering on the TV screens.
What sort of country ours is? And what sort of a people are we? Dehumanised million clustered on high ground waiting for a drop of clean water and a mouthful of food. Images of flyblown faces of children, of babies newly born and old people exhausted, are truly heart-rending.
Commercials of the delicious foods and drinks on TV all through the day and the night coverage of the flood give a glaring contrast with the real time images of starving people. Women and children caught in line melee fighting for their portion of food being distributed.
The Army alongside the Navy and the Air force is conspicuous in relief operation - especially in the engineering and the medical departments. The government is there to provide the fig loaf of a cover to the shocking striptease of a nation.
The prime minister, his president and ministers, federal and provincial, drive or fly to the disaster areas to meet the flood-affected and assure them that they would ‘not be left alone’ in their hour of crisis and return to their base without a stain of flood waters on their clothes or a shadow on their faces.
Tail Piece: Whom God would destroy they drive mad. The horrific mayhem in Lahore on the occasion of the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (RA) was nothing less than inviting Allah’s wrath on us and our country.
A veritable macabre!
The writer is a former chief of ISPR. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org