Of fools and paradise lost

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  • And dramas in our own theatre

 

Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif was enraged. He accused the superior judiciary of being prejudiced and “filled with anger” against him, as the accountability court rejected an application filed by the disqualified premier for clubbing together NAB’s three references and indicted him separately in each of the three

 

After completing his hat trick as the prime minister of Pakistan with incomplete terms, Nawaz Sharif refuses to accept the apex court’s regret in its judgement that ‘he deliberately concealed his assets and wilfully and dishonestly made a false declaration on solemn affirmation in his nomination papers’

 

 

In 1684, Jacques Abbadie, a French Protestant, wrote a work of apologetics titled: “Traité de la Vérité de la Religion Chrétienne”, in which the following passage appeared:

‘… ont pû tromper quelques hommes, ou les tromper tous dans certains lieux & en certains tems, mais non pas tous les hommes, dans tous les lieux & dans tous les siécles.’

(One can fool some men, or fool all men in some places and times, but one cannot fool all men in all places and ages.)

The same statement appeared during the next century in the landmark “Encyclopédie: ou Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers” edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert.

On September 9, 1885, an American judge named William J Groo, complaining about the actions of state politicians, spoke a version of the adage without attribution:

You can fool all the people part of the time, or you can fool some people all the time, but you cannot fool all people all the time.

In the following year, Prohibitionist Fred F Wheeler, another fellow American, employed the adage while criticising politicians for blocking a referendum, with the earliest attribution of this citation to Lincoln, two decades after his death.

They should remember Abraham Lincoln’s famous saying: “You can fool part of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.”

Thus in the course of history, these famous lines while proving to be metaphorical, satirical and allegorical in various situations, ironically have been fooling masses since hundreds of years, since the words are commonly attributed to US President Abraham Lincoln, without any solid evidence that he actually used this adage!

Nevertheless, they have also served a good purpose in criticism of mostly political nature. Most recently, the Supreme Court of Pakistan, in a detailed verdict rejecting review petitions filed by the Sharif family in the Panama Papers case, said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif tried to fool masses in and outside parliament. ‘He even tried to fool the [Supreme] Court without realising that “you can fool all the people for some of the time, some of the people all the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time”, said the verdict.

Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif was enraged. He accused the superior judiciary of being prejudiced and “filled with anger” against him, as the accountability court rejected an application filed by the disqualified premier for clubbing together NAB’s three references and indicted him separately in each of the three. Sharif’s wrath, defiance and allegations stem from his grievance over losing his ‘paradise’ – for the third time. Although history keeps repeating itself, just like the adage reappearing in similar situations, we fail to learn.

Muhammad Munir, Pakistan’s second Chief Justice of the Federal Court, had said of the country’s first Constituent Assembly that ‘it lived in a fool’s paradise if it was ever seized with the notion that it was the sovereign body in the state.’ Yet paying no heed to the warning but tribute to Abbadie and Milton, many came who tried to fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, during periods they spent in their paradises. ‘That (Justice Munir’s) observation, contentious in the situation it was made, was destined to be invested with prophetic character by the subsequent events, for many paradises were to come into being later, and many more “fools” were to live in them.’

With the exception of the country’s first prime minister, Liaqat Ali Khan, who while engaged in an effort to bring glory to the land of pure was abruptly sent to the heavenly abode, most leaders focused on their earthly abodes and in the process, either fooled others or were fooled themselves. Six prime ministers served during the period 1951 to 1958, with the longest duration being two and a half years and the shortest two months. Ayub Khan was determined not to be trifled with. As defence and home minister, he supported Iskander Mirza’s decision to impose martial law against prime minister Feroze Khan’s government in 1958. Two weeks later, he took over the presidency from Mirza after the meltdown of civil-military relations, thus fooling Mirza in the process. Ayub endeavoured to achieve his paradise on earth by relocating the federal capital from Karachi to the ‘mountainous but excessively planned city: Islamabad.’ He also did try to achieve bliss for the country, as ‘he is credited with ostensible economic prosperity and what supporters dub the “decade of development”, but is criticised for beginning the first of the intelligence agencies incursion into the national politics, for concentrating corrupt wealth in a few hands, and segregated policies that later led to the breaking up of national unity which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.’ The paradise which Jinnah promised and created for his fellow Muslims, was partially lost.

When Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took charge of the leftover paradise first as president and then the prime minister of Pakistan, he stated his intention was to “rebuild confidence and rebuild hope for the future” He strengthened ties with the Soviet Union, China and Saudi Arabia. Bhutto’s reign saw the parliament unanimously approve a new constitution in 1973. His economic programme was based on the nationalisation of much of Pakistan’s industries, and expansion of the welfare state by introducing minimum wage and old age benefits. In addition, Bhutto launched the process of industrial reconstruction by establishing Pakistan Steel Mills and Port Qasim. Before he had swayed the nation with his famous slogan roti, kapra aur makaan (food, clothing and shelter) in the election campaign of 1970 and shortly after the 1965 war, Bhutto in a press conference, famously declared that “…even if we have to eat grass, we will make nuclear bomb. We have no other choice,” as he saw India was making its way to develop the bomb. His determination led to Pakistan’s nuclear development programme and while his dream came true during Sharif’s regime of 1988 when Pakistan detonated five nuclear devices, Bhutto’s prophecy of us eating grass came close to truth as well, as according to a report by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute, the country is ranked at 106 among 119 developing countries in this year’s Global Hunger Index. Still, Bhutto’s party – being fooled to believe that it is led by the ‘rightful’ heir — sticks to his slogan and after nearly half a century of their inception, the magical yet empty words continue to lure the masses.

Many years later, Zulfiqar was succeeded by his daughter Benazir, who before her assassination in 2007, managed to secure heaven on earth twice as prime minister of Pakistan, having being dismissed at both times before completing her term. Often criticised as being politically inexperienced and corrupt and facing much opposition for her secularist and modernising agenda, she nevertheless remains popular.

Nawaz Sharif’s first administration came to an end when then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed him on corruption charges. In his second term, Sharif forcibly relieved General Karamat from command of the military forces and replaced him with General Musharraf in1998. However, the Kargil War led to a deterioration of his relations with Musharraf and they both played their part as Et tu Brutus? — when Nawaz attempted to relieve Musharraf from his command, the military instead ousted Sharif’s government and exiled him to Saudi Arabia.

After completing his hat trick as the prime minister of Pakistan with incomplete terms, Nawaz Sharif refuses to accept the apex court’s regret in its judgement that ‘he deliberately concealed his assets and wilfully and dishonestly made a false declaration on solemn affirmation in his nomination papers.’ His rhetorical question mujhay kiyoon nikala (why was I ousted), despite being the butt of jokes, has emerged as his new slogan, in hope of gaining sympathy from some emotional fools.

Thus the acts of ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Paradise Regained’ continue to be performed in our country. Some of us assume the role of playing fools, some of us direct the action on others, but the all sold out shows prevail in all times — and the times to come.

 

Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls

The sport of winds: all these, upwhirled aloft,

Fly o’er the backside of the World far off

Into a Limbo large and broad, since called

The Paradise of Fools, to few unknown

Long after, now unpeopled and untrod.

–Paradise Lost, John Milton