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Sunday July 03, 2022

The speech and beyond

October 08, 2019

An expectant nation waited for days before PM Imran Khan’s maiden speech at the UNGA. A young anchorperson said that towards the end his eyes were filled with tears. So many others expressed the same emotion.

The speech was hailed as “historic” by many in the media in Pakistan. From that young anchorperson to Senator Mushahid Hussain, everyone seemed visibly moved by the speech. The heart-rending story of the oppressed Kashmiris suffering untold atrocities at the hands of the Indian occupation forces was bound to stir those emotions.

Winston Churchill on taking over as British PM had warned the world about the Nazis who were not only a threat to England, but the all of humanity including a far-flung United States. He was right. Imran Khan did the same. His speech was not hate-spewing, war-mongering rhetoric. He was expressing a genuine worry, a global concern posed by another fascist. Modi’s arrogance continues unabated and is pushing us to the edge of the precipice. A war between two nuclear powers is very much a possibility with its infinite repercussions for the entire world. That is what the PM said – and said with all the sincerity.

Some avowed IK antagonists did murmur disagreement, meek and apologetic. Similarly, the political opposition on the whole lacked passion and conviction and was found even below par its usual mediocrity. Bilawal made everyone smile by saying that he was not satisfied with the speech.

The most important aspect is the impact a speech creates. Experts say that it is not the knowledge that a speaker gives but what their audience perceives that matters. This impact is unpredictable and unquantifiable – intangible like honour, peace and calm. This intangible is also controlled by God. “Oh Allah…You honour whom You will and You humble whom You will”. (3:26)

All those who pursue a normal career and achieve a position that is not inherited know that success does not result from hard work alone. Destiny or luck plays a predominant role in shaping the careers of successful men and women. It is that invisible hand that seems to move ahead clearing all the minefields, removing all the obstacles and bridging all the gaps in the way of the ultimate. This is neither predestination nor luck. These are the mysteries of the spiritual.

No ‘luck’ by astrological definition can remain constantly favourable. It is the grace of God that bestows power and honour and makes people rise beyond their potential. Those who realize this truth and are grateful to God while in power, acquit themselves with honour. The ungrateful meet with repentance and disgrace. In some professions people become conscious of the ultimate power sooner than in others. Soldiering during conflict is one. Professional sports are another. One is constantly on trial. Every moment of consequence seems to open new vistas of belief and wonder.

Other professions also have the element of the unknown, but it requires greater wisdom and sensitivity to realize the truth. Small warning signs escape attention and often it is too late in the day to make amendments. That is why soldiers and sportsmen seem addicted to exclamations like ‘Inshah Allah’, ‘God willing’ and ‘if everything goes according to plan’, etc, more than a politician or a diplomat. It is because they learn that ‘if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans and if you want to further amuse Him, tell Him how strong you are’. The power of the intangibles makes the wise conscious of their limitations.

The wise are always alive to the powers of God and constantly invoke His blessings and never sounds as sure as the ordinary often do – like someone saying, ‘we will kick this government out’.

Like the physical laws that govern the functioning of the universe, the spiritual laws based on ethics, morals and scruples play an equally important role in the life of individuals and nations. Those who ignore the spiritual come to grief.

‘There is no God but God’, is a conviction that is universally admitted as an indomitable and unparalleled motivating factor. It turns man into a true vicegerent of God on earth, fearless, independent truthful and honest. IK’s strong expression of his beliefs inspires the people of Pakistan.

The crucial question is: what next? Veteran soldiers rule out the use of force because of our obvious disadvantages in the conventional comparative strength ratios. Pakistan’s strategy is defensive. But if provoked we will respond strongly. However, the existence of nuclear arsenal on both sides cannot be easily brushed aside.

Exterior manoeuvre built on diplomacy, and techniques of fifth generation warfare is a viable option. There is no ready-made roadmap so to speak. The government will have to create a think-tank, in or outside the Foreign Affairs Division based on genuine intellectuals, similar to the one established by the British Navy in World War Two to find an answer to the menace of German U-Boats. Modi’s fascism needs to be countered with more than conventional mechanism.

The writer is the author of the book, ‘Pakistan in Search of a Messiah’

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