Rocking graveyards


Our horde of has-beens

At the outset, let me apologise if the title appears insensitive or disrespectful. It actually is meant to convey a level of disrespect, not for the dead but for those past their sell-by date who have a gigantic sense of entitlement in this country. So forgive me and read on.

Look around. Retirement refuses to be an option in Pakistan. People reaching either superannuation or a high level of incompetence immediately become a candidate for a prize job, a big prize, at the cost of government or the country. A spate of aged contenders exists for jobs that must necessarily go to younger, more energetic, enlightened and dynamic people. Whether it’s a game or an assignment, the lines are endless.

Today’s ire is triggered by the announcement of Mohammad Yousuf, a cricketing ‘has been’ who professes a passion for the game that warrants a return. Have a heart; if every one passionate about cricket was considered, we’d have a deluge on our hands. Cricket has reached spectacular energy levels and demands much physical and mental strength. Even at your best, you couldn’t throw the ball from the boundary. Having said this, yes you were a class act, a superb batsman when you got going. But Dravid was way above, and physically in superb shape. Even he has said goodbye. No one except Tendulkar from your time plays cricket anymore. So rest at home and don’t ridicule yourself please. Let us remember you with some element of dignity.

Not to be outdone, close to the end of a delayed but successful career, Misbah also announces his candidature for continuing in cricket at all playing levels and formats. So be it. But tell me what arrogance allows players in their twilight to imagine even for a single moment that a nation, which boasts 80 million males, does not have at least a dozen young replacements for them? It’s the geriatrics that dominate Gaddafi Stadium who inspire these ludicrous beliefs and will welcome yet another in their midst. It kind of camouflages the limps and breathlessness that prevails. Why Zaka Ashraf bows in deference, I have no idea. I know what I would have done.

That’s cricket, just a game. What about serious business like governance, running institutions, representing the nation internationally? How come almost every retired government functionary demands he be placed in an even more lucrative job than the one he retired from? When a comparative one is suggested, he is grossly offended. It really pisses me off when I hear this. I mean, man, you’ve done your bit, the nation has acknowledged your contribution which, frankly, in most instances is zilch; now just go home and let others get on with the job.

There are guys from the services who retire with millions in benefits that will see them through to the end of life living in luxury. But no, instead of resting on laurels, they will be knocking the door letting the right quarters know of their expectations. Check out the prize jobs and see for yourself. It’s disgusting.

Seeing all this happen, a new breed has entered the arena. Those highly paid gentlemen heading major corporations and financial institutions, banking and non-banking, upon being relieved, with huge payoffs mind you, are feverishly charging around Islamabad looking to be accommodated, not just with board memberships and chairmanships but operational assignments as CEOs with terms and conditions applicable as in their former private sector jobs. I just have to look up from this computer and I see a sea of self-entitled, expectant faces just waiting to don their Sunday best and jump onto an Islamabad flight. It makes me laugh.

In deadly earnest, they recount how the fortunes of corporations they’ve headed changed at their hands. What immense contribution they make to the think tanks they are placed upon and how mediocre the present incumbents of jobs they earmark are. I don’t doubt that there may be a lot of truth in what they say, especially in regard to current incumbents since a lot of ‘favourites’ occupy lucrative assignments, but they’ve done what they had to. Let others have their chance.

An old horse is an old horse; he must give way to the new, spirited successor. As they have had to in their international corporations. Why don’t these big corporations extend their tenures? Sure they take the best, I mean only the best, and appoint him or her as chairman of a subsidiary in Asia or Africa or the like. The others go home to roost.

These folks are misled by what has been done in the past to accommodate people despite protests, regulations et al. So one can’t blame them entirely for harbouring aspirations. The question is when will we recognise this as a disease that plagues the nation. Get these guys on talk shows and disconcert them till they feel ashamed. I mean, my God, people in their seventies, mid to late, are still lining up. It’s embarrassing to say the least.

And the fact that government even considers such appointments is utterly ridiculous. Its responsibility is to the nation not individuals. And my friends ‘has beens’ are ‘has beens’ in whatever form or flavour they come. Let’s quickly agree on this.

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


Comments are closed.