Sunday June 16, 2024

The echoes getting closer and louder

By Raoof Hasan
September 15, 2023

Some among us are sensitive to even the slightest deviation from the course of truth and justice while others show a penchant to gel with the way currents flow, irrespective of whether such a course would be beneficial to the larger good of the people and the country they inhabit.

For the two to try to find common ground to work together without an inhibiting level of consternation may spell the difficulty that continues to augment divisions within the societal framework. This, in turn, hands over the levers of power to the latter category who are always in a majority as they get down to making the most of the chances that come their way, be they right or wrong, legal or illegal, just or unjust.

After the August 11 groundbreaking address of the Quaid from the floor of the constituent assembly, no genuine effort ever went into implementing his vision of the kind of Pakistan he had envisaged. In fact, with the passage of time, we drifted away from that cherished goal of a liberal, progressive, tolerant, and egalitarian Pakistan as our journey since has been marked by plunging deeper into the pit of regression and darkness with not a trace of light showing through now to guide us into the future.

As the gap between the vision and reality continues to grow wider, we seem to be lost in an endless retinue of polemics with each party trying to assert that they were in the right and the others in the wrong. Such filibustering is neither supported by any quantum of logic and reason nor can this modus operandi craft a credible and sustainable way of moving into the future with hope of harvesting healthier dividends.

Simultaneously, the desperation of the ordinary, impoverished mortals who have suffered the excesses of the state and those who have come to rule it from time to time, garbed in military and civilian apparels, increases as the prospects of sustaining their lives, even on the margins, diminish.

But no one is showing even the slightest sensitivity to their sufferings as billions are doled out to outgoing legislators in the name of development funds which will fatten their coffers with some of the loot invested in winning the next elections to return to skin the state all over again. Further billions are invested each month to ensure that the beneficiary elite continues to enjoy their luxurious living standards at the cost of the state.

As the slide continues, we have been reduced to a skeleton of what we used to be when we were referred to as the rising star of Asia. Today, we go around with a trademark begging bowl asking for support to survive another day, and then another. Worst of all, we are completely denuded of even a shred of shame to look inward to evaluate why we have reached this low point and whether there is a way to extricate ourselves from the harrowing clutches of this sick mindset. The only substantive investment that shows through has been made in making the state more brutal and barbarous and driving the justice system out of the equation that could still bring some good to the country.

Any residual self-respect of the people has been badly badgered through a display of open and blatant affront to the constitution and the laws that flow from it, be they about the freedom of expression, or the right to protest peacefully, or about independence of judiciary and other state institutions which are entrusted with the task of managing the affairs. Today, they operate at the whims of individuals rather than as per the articles contained in the statute book. Anyone who brooks disapproval is packed to the dungeons with the fate of some remaining unknown for prolonged periods of time.

In such a vitiating environment, what are the options one can exercise to carve a way forward without bringing down the state edifice which, through decades of merciless misuse and exploitation, has rusted and become wobbly. Only a slight push can bring the structure down with a bang, but no one to mourn its self-inflicted fate. It is as if we have been scripting such a denouement with malevolent determination. So, should one give up the challenge saying that an individual can do little when pitted against the collective will of the corrupt beneficiary elite which always manages to hold sway using its tried and tested tricks?

But the state is a mother to those millions whose fates have been sacrificed at the altar of the benefit of a few. It is their only asset, and their existence is dependent upon its survival and progress. While the bulk of the beneficiary elite have their palatial abodes elsewhere in the world built with the money they laundered from Pakistan, the impoverished millions have nowhere else to turn to. Their desperation is reflected in an ever-larger number of people deciding to leave the country even at the risk of their lives. They see no survival here and their children no hope or future. So, they are forfeiting motherly protection simply to earn their livelihood to survive the exigencies of life.

This is the paradox the country is caught up in with no easy solution in sight. The ones in control are inflexible to change their approach and those undergoing frequent trials and tribulations have few options to exercise. Their homes and hearths, their families and businesses, their self-respect and honour – nothing is safe from the excesses being perpetrated upon them. In fact, this whole thing is conveniently falling into a standardized pattern to force people away from a political party. If at all, where will this come to rest?

The mindset at work believes in keeping the powerless subjugated and allowing the ruling elite to continue plundering the stock. They have a surfeit of opportunities. They operate with abandon and with no fear and are cruelly unmindful of who is suffering as an aftermath of their abominable indulgences. They saunter merrily as if tomorrow shall not dawn, as if the poor don’t exist who they are inflicting pain upon, as if there is no law enforcer to stop them from depriving others of their constitutionally guaranteed rights. It is a kind of illicit freedom with no bounds, and they have an insatiable appetite. They don’t even forget to scratch the skeletons to scrape some meat off it. Their naked hunger defies description.

This is what Pakistan looks like after completing seventy-six years of existence. As the world leaps into a future of promise, we gaze down into the abyss, trying to measure the depth of the pit we are plunging into. It has been a fall of harrowing proportions!

The writer is the information secretary of the PTI, and a

fellow at King’s College London. He tweets/posts @RaoofHasan