I have often written about the degenerative trends which seem to be swamping society and the destructive impact the phenomenon will generate for all to suffer. Unfortunately, there has been no let-up in this onslaught and every day introduces us to ways this can become even more sickening in its devastating outreach. This has now grown into becoming an infatuation with peeping into the personal recesses of human life and coming out with tales laced with the vicarious extremes of invective and insinuation.
I had also hoped that the collective consciousness of society would wake up to this grievous happening and find out ways to first check and then reverse the damning tide. That has not taken shape, and, with time, society seems to be locked up in this unfathomable confine where truth, morality and honour are seen hiding their faces behind fangs dripping in the blood of spite, hate and acrimony. Because of a combination of factors, these unworthy features have taken deep roots and are infecting the entire environment, rendering it impossible for society to exist as a homogenous body committed to the collective good of all.
This has not happened by itself. It has been brewing over years owing to a host of factors, but no serious attention beyond oratorial verbosity was ever paid to tackling the monstrous development. In essence, when the executive hijacks the prerogative of dispensing with both resources and rights to the deprivation of its citizens, and in utter violation of the social contract that is the fundamental charter establishing a sustainable bond between state and society, their mutual relationship becomes untenable. From there on, disappointment is an obvious outcome.
But when the state also engages in breeding a criminal class of the ruling elite which prospers by plundering its assets with abject impunity and tramples upon the rights of the weak and the impoverished people, this disappointment takes on a more infectious form which can spread quickly. In our case, the state has not only been guilty of this perfidy; it has driven its people to the fringes of life where they are continuously pressed for survival on a day-to-day basis with no hope of succour coming from any source.
These are ominous consequences of the persistent floundering of responsibility on the part of the state onto its people. Confronted with the growing challenge of life, and seeing the state being stripped of its assets by those ensconced in seats of power, ordinary people have also been forced to act likewise. That is why I say that we have become a virtual crime state with everyone’s hands soiled in one or the other kind of corruption: either the kind infected with greed which the rich are afflicted with as they want their billions to pile on further, or the one necessitated by need where the poor people partake of the trade to survive another day.
So, instead of arresting the degenerative process, society has become complicit in the spread of this malaise, right across the national body politic, owing to it being incessantly pressed by the compulsions of life. The gravity of the situation has aggravated further with the gagging of human freedoms which, under normal circumstances, provide an avenue for catharsis and for fostering interaction among people and charting a path into the future. The environment we are currently surviving in is stifling beyond description, only becoming worse with the passage of time.
One fails to understand the rationale behind adopting this strategy. In times of crises impacting human survival, freedoms are not curbed. In fact, people are provided with additional avenues for expressing their sentiments and their thoughts and bond with other stakeholders for structuring remedial measures. The opposite is the approach in current times: as people languish on the fringes of life, desperately eager to fetch their next meal, they are also deprived of their freedoms, thus denying them recourse to the possibility of launching a combined effort to address the existent challenges. They are virtually locked up in a cocoon where all they can do is talk to themselves, thereby accentuating their inability to cope with exacting demands of surviving through increasingly difficult times.
These are strange optics typified by a combination of absence of sustainable resources needed for survival on the one hand, and deprivation of basic freedoms on the other hand which encompass freedom of speech and peaceful protest. This is further amplified by the state unleashing its brutal power on a political party and all those associated with it and the consequent denial of rights to them to seek recourse to law. Succeeding bails granted to countless workers are nullified by showing their arrest in other fake and frivolous cases. The underlying objective is to keep them incarcerated so that they are not able to initiate their political activities, particularly now that the elections have been announced for February 8.
In all this, the element of hate of the most popular political leader of the country, Imran Khan, plays a dominant role. Fearful of a perceived PTI victory at the hustings, the state is determined to deny the option to the people to exercise their right to vote in a free, fair, and transparent process. Instead, an environment for controlled ‘selection’ is being created where some favourites will have the state patronage while efforts are afoot to keep the PTI out of reckoning.
Thus, the bulk of their potential candidates remain in prison by denying them access to justice while more are being arrested or forcibly kidnapped and converted to join some outfits which have been tailored specifically for the task of accepting these converts. This is a clear cause for increasing people’s anger. Despite innumerable impediments placed in their path, they remain determined to change the tide on the day of elections.
As already discussed, there are multiple factors for the deterioration that we are witnessing in the stock of the society. But when the state takes on playing a dubious partisan role, things become unwieldy and, ultimately, uncontrollable. This is the situation we are caught up in at this moment when sporadic incidents of violence from various constituencies are already being reported.
Will the state, and those managing it at this juncture, realize the gravity of the situation and think of taking a step back to ponder their options in greater objectivity? If they do so, they may still undo the damage that has been inflicted to some extent. But if they don’t, things may spiral out of their control, and that of everyone else. It may then be that we live to rue the gruesome consequences of nurturing hate and bartering sanity.
The writer is the information secretary of the PTI, and a fellow at King’s College London. He tweets/posts RaoofHasan