As the political pack in Pakistan wrangles over nothing and the country dips further into a heavy load that cannot be shed, no matter how long the loadsheddings become, 2010 comes to an end, marking one more point of reference on one of the calendars humanity now uses. The year ends without any improvement on the hope factor and without a hint of any real change in Pakistan or the world in general despite Wikileaks, whose head has mysteriously disappeared from the news media.
That there are no signs of hope in Pakistan may be a direct consequence of the moral and intellectual character of its leadership. But for the world at large to be so filled with dark hopelessness is indeed a great tragedy for the entire human race. The downward spiral with which the century started has yet to see an upward turn: we are still living in the nightmarish world created by George W Bush and his British crony, whose name one does not wish to pronounce, lest it taints the paper with blood. That nightmare was inaugurated by two ruthless wars which unfolded countless human tragedies, most of which will never become part of history as recognisable individual tragedies; rather, they will forever remain collateral damage.
Yet, amidst the ever-increasing collateral damage of the unending war of terror started by George W Bush, one wishes at least to have a hope that there will come a time when someone in Pakistan will have the courage to stand up and say: one more drone attacks in Pakistan or else the US embassy in Islamabad will be shut down.
The fact that Pakistan has lost its sovereignty requires no further proof than the recent statement by its prime minister in parliament, in which he called the drone attacks “counterproductive” and repeated his government’s demand that the US give Pakistan the drone technology and leave to it such actions against militants. What does it mean to issue such a statement in parliament other than acknowledging the fact that the Pakistani government cannot stop these attacks! This amounts to admitting the loss of sovereignty because, for all practical purposes, a drone attack is an attack on Pakistan by another country, not merely an attack on some unknown militants.
During 2010, there has been a sharp increase in these attacks. The number of people killed is anybody’s guess, as no one is counting. The drone war is not recorded anywhere in public debates, neither in the United States nor in Pakistan, occasional whimpers by the Jamaat-e Islami notwithstaPakistan is perhaps the only country in the world which has given the United States a blank cheque; even the servile Egypt receives more respect.
Then there is Hugo Chavez, who has refused to accept Washington’s choice of ambassador to his country, because the nominee, Larry Palmer, made some statements earlier this year suggesting that morale was low in Venezuela’s military and that he was concerned Colombian rebels were finding refuge in Venezuela. Even though the US State Department has said that it stands behind its nomination of Palmer, Chavez refuses to admit him.
“If the government is going to expel our ambassador there, let them do it!” he said in a televised speech to his nation, “if they’re going to cut diplomatic relations, let them do it! Now the US government is threatening us that they’re going to take reprisals. Well, let them do whatever they want, but that man will not come.” What a difference between this bold stand and whimpers coming out of Pakistan!
There are obvious differences between the two countries, but regardless of those economic differences, there is no justification for the servile attitude of Pakistani leadership. The sinking fortunes of Pakistan are not merely related to its economic dependence on the United States; they are a direct result of the moral bankruptcy of its political leadership.
All that Pakistani politicians seem to be interested in is an unending parade of petty political games. In a country where no one feels safe, where all the growth indicators have been going down, and where basic necessities are becoming increasingly scarce, no one seems to be concerned about any long-term strategy to meet the power shortfall or to curtail the ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor.
It is hard to believe that Pakistan at the end of 2010 is the same country which witnessed one of the greatest tragedies of its national life in this same year. It seems no one remembers the floods anymore. The desperation witnessed during those weeks, the hopelessness of people who would rush to aid workers, fight over rice and sugar, stronger men would slap the faces of women and children to get food away from them, people would pick up grains of sugar from the ground and put them straight into their mouths. These memories of those days, when the entire nation was feeling an urgent sense of moral decay, but also a sincere repentance and hoping for Divine grace, are all gone with the wind.
It is hard to believe that the nation is still filled with the same old habits of life and its entire political leadership is immersed in yet another petty affair. As the year 2010 comes to end, one cannot rejoice in any possible opening filled with hope. Instead, there is this heavy feeling that the same old pattern of national decay will continue in the New Year, and perhaps for years to come.
The writer is a freelance columnist.
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