Inside the volcano


Pakistan is always on the boil

Last night it finally came to me. This feeling of unease, insecurity, uncertainty gurgling within like burning rocks, melting earth, sounds of guts spewing, imminent disaster. It’s like being inside a volcano. That’s Pakistan today, a recipe for disaster, waiting to spew its bowels. Cooked by none other than us.

Pakistan and Pakistanis love making history, however ignominious it may be. Just the moment matters, not the ramifications. Whether it is cricket or the highest in the land, emotions rule. We’ve seen it all. A former civilian prime minister sent to the gallows and now another civilian prime minister formally charged by the apex court of contempt.

Without going in to the grounds or stating an opinion as this is a matter in the court, one cannot help but comment upon the ham-handedness in handling the situation once the course was known. Last night, I had the privilege to spend a few minutes with a very senior legal eagle. He aptly used the phrase “loose lips sink ships”. More doesn’t need to be said.

The CJ apparently commented to the effect that the law is enforced only on the poor. I think he is wrong. The law is not enforced or followed by rich and poor alike. He is probably unaware, sequestered by security and protocol, of the ground realities. Be it traffic violations, petty thievery or heinous crimes, law or justice is insignificant. Law has become a grandiose affair of inflated egos and excessive decorum practiced by those that can afford the luxury. And the ignoramus, in drawing rooms and electronic and print media, discusses it to death.

While events chart the course, this allegedly dysfunctional government has taken some positive strides towards continued political democracy. Parliament passed a landmark amendment, the emphasis being on the fact that it is unanimous. At the same time, the process for the much talked of elections to the Senate was commenced. Say what you may, this government has successfully manipulated legislative agenda during the currency of its term. It’s a major achievement given the fragmented mandate. In the process, the reputation of the combined political leadership has been enhanced for their commitment to democracy.

The country demands a cohesive response to multiple issues dominating the political, economic and development scenario. One cannot support those rejoicing in creating a further divide. There isn’t enough time for experiments. A path of stability with a goal in sight is the day’s need. Yet all around us, we are given glimpses of alternatives that have not recorded an iota of success in sixty years.

At lunch the other day, I was seated at a table next to Imran’s would-be cabinet. He claims revolutionary measures to redeem Pakistan. Single-handedly I would assume, as he claimed he did the World cup, because what was seated on that table has achieved nothing and is ill-equipped to do so, however affable they maybe. Most are in the sixties but many in the seventies too. I am hoping God has a better future for Pakistan planned.

Then you take this DPC. A collection of failures and combination of all the retrograde elements that see themselves ruling a Pakistan reduced to a mediaeval state in total isolation and in continued threat of being bombed to smithereens with regularity. I am glad that, at least, against this organisation the editorials have been scathing and in keeping with total reality. The last thing the country needs is irrational rabble-rousing.

It’s incredible how all those that participated in the rule of this country for the last forty years and did nothing for it claim they are the answer to all the ills. What happened to them when they were in office and what achievements do they claim? It’s all very well to say they weren’t allowed to contribute, but that’s nonsense. How many of them have a ‘say’ now? How many can stand up and oppose the leaders of their parties? Let’s be real folks.

Pakistan needs seamless international relationships with neighbours and the world alike. Trade with India is a cornerstone towards commercial success; its colossal market is an obvious target for genuine traders. Relationships with China, United States and Russia are an essential part of being in the comity of nations. We need them. And they need us. So let us quickly bury those that have little or nothing to offer but further erosion of our country’s prestige.

The importance of the press in enhancing the country’s image is invaluable. Unfortunately, it is in vogue to highlight the bad and ignore the good. A water heater explosion will make breaking news but a multi-million dollar world-class shopping mall or recreation hotspot will barely be mentioned. Editors need to review the content thoroughly. Sensationalism may gain viewership and the advertisers’ fancy but is this today’s only need? The world reads and views. What we are projecting is a side of us that is not inherently Pakistan. It’s not fair.

So much needs to be done. The country needs to get on with it. For another few weeks, the volcano will continue to spew smoke and rumble violently but we do not want it to burst. The fire must be quelled and, in the process, lessons learnt.

The writer may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]


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