Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Air of Revolution

Nowadays, there has been a lot of buzz about change or a revolution in the country, especially after Imran Khan’s heroics at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. The evening of 30th October changed much in Pakistan. People have started to take Imran Khan seriously and he is now considered as third option in Pakistani politics.Editorials, TV talk shows, street corners and even restaurant tables are having deliberations about the future elections and many, in fact, most of the urbanites have given Imran Khan a serious chance of winning the forthcoming elections. Many label it as a change and many take it to the extent of revolution. While we call the two mainstream political parties as status-quo parties, Imran Khan is seen as anti-status quo. Hats off to Imran Khan for giving Pakistani people once again a hope which was very much lost after 18th February elections.

The word change or revolution has become so much appealing to the masses that every politician tries to package his content in the wrapper of change. Even President Barack Obama used it as a slogan to run his campaign which ultimately led him to the White House. I wonder if he goes again for that slogan. I really believe if our consumable goods carry the tag-line of change, it will become so much easy for them to sell their products. The appeal of the word change to Pakistani masses is due to the inefficiency and inability of all the political parties of Pakistan, as they all have been tried and tested in one way or the other after 18th February elections. Almost every participating party has stayed in government and that has led to people’s disbelief in these parties. That is the line where Imran Khan is bowling as he knows about the dynamics of masses.It remains to be seen whether he will be able to conjure up the required amount of seats in the National Assembly and deliver but we can talk about his future performance and chances from what he has already delivered to the nation in his speeches.

Recently I gave a presentation on the chances of Imran Khan to my class fellows and what I came across was an explosion of negative comments towards me from my fellows as I labeled his chances as bleak. Some, who usually used to call me sane and intelligent, even went to the extent of calling me non-serious. I was expecting that from them and the same I expect from his other supporters. I am not an Imran-Khan basher, it’s just I see things from a realist angle.Many call Imran Khan as old wine in a new bottle and after the people he is allowing to join his party, it is very much clear that same old people will be our representatives. Imran Khan wants to cleanse or even ‘dry-clean’ his candidates under his headship, before giving them party ticket, but do the candidates want to get cleansed? Will these new-inductees be able to don the attire of a noble leader after enjoying the title of feudal in their own village? How would he dry-clean Mian Azhar, who has already been tried and tested?

Assuming if Imran Khan takes the hot seat this term, though it is very difficult, there are some things that need to be answered. Whatever Imran Khan said in Lahore are things that are mostly the words of whole of Pakistan but somehow they does not align with the policies of hidden hands in Pakistani set-up i.e. establishment. Every government has to keep the desires of establishment and string-pullers’ desires in view and that is where the question marks on his ability arise. He can fulfil the promises he made to people in Lahore if he is the only decision maker in the system. But governments are not solely run by the elected people. There are always people who effect and manipulate the decisions of people. Ask Barack Obama how he was forced to increase the troops in Afghanistan by his own military establishment.

PTI wants to topple the system and bring a change but change does not come from within the system. It always comes from staying outside. You cannot bring a change by climbing up the stairs and reaching the top and then abruptly dismantling the whole system because you are the one who have climbed up through this system and its downfall will lead to your own. To stay in power you have to empower the foundations of that ladder rather than dismounting the ladder.

Before Imran Khan comes to power, he may have to answer these questions. History is witness that whenever the hopes of masses are shattered, anarchy takes over and leads to a real revolution which does not need ballot. Imran Khan is one of the best philanthropists and the best leader in cricket, we ever had, and that gives him an edge over all and perhaps that is well-deserved but as a leader and a statesman, there is a big question mark that needs to be removed prior to his taking of the helm. It is up to him, whether he becomes a Mahathir Mohammad or a Barack Obama.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Politicians Frustrating Youth

Published in Frontier Post on 04-11-2011

A friend of mine sent me a text message regarding Shahbaz Sharif’s speech during the Go-Zardari-Go rally in Lahore organized by Pakistan Muslim League-N. He also brought into my notice the statement of Shahbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of the largest province of Pakistan, in which he labeled President Zardari and his team as Ali Baba aur Chalis Chor (Ali Baba and the forty thieves). When one listens to these sorts of name-calling and mudslinging by the so-called fathers of the nation, one can only hide his face under the blanket due to embarrassment.
Cracking of horrendous jokes and jugat-bazi on each other has become a norm recently and all our politicians, from leadership to a worker, have left no stone unturned to go after each other and malign each other in any possible manner they can. Words like siri-paye rally, jhooton ka IG and sher baradaraan, etc. have been a regular instance in the press conferences of these politicians nowadays. It looks as if our politicians have come straight out of the comedy theatre. I remember that these kinds of jokes are used by my very close friend to tease me and in return we call each other theatre comedians but we never knew that our politicians also share the same trait after carrying the responsibility of driving this nation towards development and prosperity.
Name-calling apart, trend of singing poems and horrific gestures during the speeches and photo-shoots for banners have also been touching our sense of hearing and sight nowadays.When Pakistan came into being, no one would have ever expected that the land of the pure would be facing this situation. A situation where we are blessed with politicians, who are greedy and self-centred, who take politics as business rather than a divine duty. Regrettably we are as miserable as a nation can get right now.
Before the current regime, we used to put all the blames on dictatorship and used it as a scapegoat for all our ills and during that nine-year long dictatorial rule, TV channels and newspaper editorials were full of calls for democracy. And when we got the much prayed democracy, it felt as if everything will be turned on its head and the wand of democracy will weave a magic to change our fortunes. Three-and-a-half years have passed and that wand has been unable to do its abracadabra. In fact that spell has been counter-productive. National assets like PIA, KESC, Railways and even Cricket Board have portrayed pictures of sheer mismanagement, corruption and bad-governance. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s report suggesting that 1600 people committed suicide due to poverty this year is just a reflection of the disbelief people have in this system.
The problems, we are surrounded with, are mammoth in stature but these problems look more gigantic when we see our politicians involved in measuring their power through rallies and count of attendees determining their stronghold. Surrounded with severe and ever increasing international pressure, two provinces are virtually under war and insurgency, domestic turmoil in the shape of inflation, power crisis and ever present financial crunch, our political parties are more interested in pulling their socks up for upcoming elections of both the legislative houses. Rewind the television broadcast of last two weeks and you’ll find majority of time devoted to two rallies in Lahore rather than focusing on public issues.Leaders of two mainstream parties have been saying to each other that both of them haven’t learnt anything from the past exiles and jails. But I’d say that they haven’t learnt and are not learning anything from the present. Arab uprising and removal of Hosni Mubarak and Col. Qaddafi have a lot in it for our rulers to learn from but somehow broadcast of these news has got no reception in Bilawal House, Raiwind, Nine-Zero or any other political headquarters. Our rulers are unable to see the fact that the West detaches itself from its puppets after getting the things done. They are still very rigorous in implementing their agenda after knowing what they did to their predecessors.
Put the broadcast of Arab uprising aside, our Presidency was not even able to glance out of its luxurious window when its own voter, came from Sindh by borrowing 1000 rupees from his father for travelling expenses to get a job as promised by the President, put himself on fire after not getting what was promised. Raja Rind, who died on the same day his wife gave birth to his son, committed suicide but was it a suicide? For me and many, this was a cold blooded murder and if there ever has to be any FIR, then the government has to be the main accused without any shadow of a doubt.
Our leaders have forgotten that still there are Tahrir Squares in Muslim countries. Every state has a meniscus and when that meniscus is touched, the water starts falling down. Patience of Pakistani people like their brethren in Arab world is also touching the meniscus and it is anytime that the water flow will cross the meniscus and start spilling out. One day we will have to wake up, stand in front of the mirror and before opening the cap of toothpaste, gaze at mirror and question ourselves that do we really deserve this humiliation? Should we do anything about it? The sooner we see the mirror, sooner the better for us.