Heard it through the grapewynne
January 16 is a date that will live in infamy, or not. It will long be remembered as the beginning of the end, or not. It will forever be recalled as the date when a man in a wig ordered the head of Pakistan’s vast government to appear before him to explain why he was being so cheeky. Or not. It will be celebrated as the day when said head of government, rather than being snooty and aloof (unlike certain erstwhile foreign ambassadors and their hyper-ventilating erstwhile counsels) actually assented to appear before said individual to valiantly defend his point of view. Or not. This is the kind of uncertainty most Pakistanis have to live with. Especially the ones who watch TV. Or read newspapers. Or listen to the radio. All others have been blissfully unaware, leading average, mundane, poverty-inflation-and-gas-shortage-stricken lives.
This dichotomy strikes at the very heart of the purpose of our fair country’s existence. For many years, the venerable Muhammad Ali Jinnah sweated bullets just so the people (read Musalmaans) of India could lead life as it was meant to be: free from the yoke of imperialism and chained to the yoke of hegemonic, class-based social stratification. In Jinnah’s Pakistan, the average man was free to go to his temple, mosque, synagogue and gurdwara, as long as he could afford the cab fare. Those who could not had to take public transport and risk being hacked to death by racial/religious/ethnic supremacists wielding scimitars and spears (ostensibly to compensate for their penile dysfunction).
That Pakistan is no more. In its place, we have Zardari’s Pakistan. A land where opportunities are aplenty; roti, kapra and makaan in all shapes and forms are readily available and top quality education is provided. To all those who can afford to pay for it. You may think that this piece of news is a bit too big to be concealed in the fine print, but you’d be wrong. It has been kept hidden from the masses for all these years, thanks to the brilliant satirical skills of useless writers such as Ibne Insha, Ahmed Shah Bukhari and Saadat Hasan Manto. The perpetuation of money-over-manpower has been a central motif in the development of our national character. And thanks to El Jefe, that character is currently quite dheela.
However, there is one constant that has remained constant all throughout our nation’s pockmarked history: the invisible hand that has always wielded the bulk of the power in the subcontinent. A force that from Messervy to Iskander to Ayub to Yahya to Zia to Musharraf has been the force driving the country’s collective engine. A force that, in other countries, may be called an army. In Pakistan, we call it the state. Hence, anti-military conspiracies become anti-state activities, all in the blink of an eye. For as long as I can remember, the fragile railroad of democracy has been derailed by the sound of army boots marching up to the door of parliament. It is currently the year 2012, the year the Mayans thought the world would end. Ironically, this is also the year when little Tweety birds, also known as unnamed sources, have been dropping hints and toting 2012 as the end of the world, for the ruling PPP. This essentially means the end of the world as we know it, because while we may hate the 10% milk we are being fed under this atrocious rule, we know that things can be changed, come next elections. However, with the boot firmly on democracy’s unkempt sandals, no amount of electoral reform can guarantee that an election will take place if and when a military ruler takes over the reins of government and declares himself an ‘Obama’, i.e. Commander in Chief of the (un)Armed Forces.
For weeks since the Memogate scandal broke, many have been speculating that the democratic jig is up. There have been multiple theories regarding the big chief’s commitment to democracy and how he is not the man Abu Hamza bin Musharraf was. There is also counterspeak that his closest (and next in line) generals do not quite agree with the big cheese’s aloofness and crave a greater role in nation building. Granted that there is only a handful of such wynning three-to-four-star-toting generals, but in a country like ours, even one is enough. Enough to plunge a nation of debaucherous sex-offenders into a deeply religious state. Enough to plunge a nation of mullahs into hedonism. And enough to force both the mullahs and the liberal fascists to stand tall on the same platform, as their lackeys service them, hand and foot.
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