Even if heavens were to fall


Candid Corner


  • The absolute pain of witnessing the decline of a once mighty dynasty


“Let the clarion call go forth to the mighty

To stand sentinel to the measure of their deeds

When the wretched of the earth shall surge

Entreating for vengeance

None shall come to the rescue.

Reward and punishment shall be dispensed here

For here shall be enacted hell and paradise

For here shall be raised the call for the hereafter

For here shall be the doomsday.”

– Adapted from Faiz Ahmad Faiz


A few days ago, I had a conversation with a person I have known for some years now. Like it always happens, all such interactions drift to taking stock of what is happening in the country and how will Pakistan get out of the mess it appears to be in at this moment. He kept silent as I delved into a host of challenges that we are confronted with at this juncture, but then suddenly said: “All that you are saying may or may not be, but there is one thing I really believe in. This is the time to put things right as there is not going to be another opportunity. If the current efforts do not succeed in cleansing the country of the scourge of corruption, it is doomed. This process must continue even if heavens were to fall”.

This is the not the first time I have encountered such dire proclamations and it’ll not be the last time either. There have been numerous other occasions when people have opined in similar tones on the dismal state of the country, requiring desperate measures to tackle the myriad ailments it is mired in.

And then I heard the other voice, one from the floor of Parliament, one from someone who was once the president of the country. Palpably right sized, Asif Zardari looked a shadow of his former thundering self as he spoke haltingly: “Forget this accountability. Let’s put this behind us and look into the future. Problems in the country are increasing and challenges may arise that the government is not able to deal with. Then I may not be able to do anything. My party may not be able to help. Other parties may not be able to help either. Government should evaluate the situation afresh and those who brought it in should also think again”.

Then came the classic part of the harangue: “People are afraid. They are afraid that if this is happening to Zardari, what could happen to them?”

Oh, my, my! He begins with a plea for forgiveness and then lapses into the usual mantra often used by the political mafias: a warning of sorts that if you continue pushing the accountability process, there will be trouble and no one will be able to rectify matters. The system shall collapse. The country’s future shall be endangered. Now, doesn’t that sound familiar? Where and when were similar words last spoken and what happened after that? But he doesn’t realise that his bluff has been called. The utter lack of public reaction to his sister’s and his arrest speaks volumes of the depletion of a once mighty dynasty– the Bhuttos!

it is becoming increasingly difficult for the political barons to hide their crass indulgences. They stand naked in the court of the people. All the state actors are unanimous with the popular plea that the guilty must be exposed – and punished

One doesn’t expect the head-honcho of the PPP to prostrate himself any further than this in seeking forgiveness. This is it, with nothing left to the imagination. He is confessing to his crimes from the floor of Parliament and beseeching for reprieve. He wants another chance to be of use. He wants another chance to indulge in his ravaging spree of loot and plunder. He wants some more millions to be transferred into his foreign accounts, some more properties bought, some more wretched people deprived of their hard-earned assets. He wants to go on another scavenging rampage. He is a political baron, after all, donning the quintessential Pakistani mantle which grants him a license to indulge his favourite passion to the hilt.

The other head-honcho has also exhausted all his options for a legal bailout as IHC has thrown out his plea seeking reprieve on medical grounds. His lawyers had moved before the court that his ailment could be attended to only out of the country (read London) and his life would be in danger if he was not allowed to travel abroad. The court order was instantly dubbed as denial of justice to Nawaz Sharif by the one, lurking ever so cunningly, ever so desperately in the background, looking for her chance to pounce.

So, where do we stand today or, more appropriately, how do we stand? The answer is not difficult to fathom. It appears that the dividing line has become more pronounced as opposing forces consolidate their bunkers.

On the one side are arrayed the forces demanding preservation of the status-quo with no adjustments made and without, in any manner, impacting their privileges and their right to plunder. On the other side are forces demanding a complete reappraisal of the way things have been in the country since its inception with appropriate and deterrent punishment accorded to the guilty– the ones who have wilfully brought the country to its present belittling state and who, given another change, would indulge the same proclivities with further greed and hunger.

That takes me back to the plea made by my friend: let there be indiscriminate justice even if heavens were to fall. Let’s also concede that we have, for long, lived in an environment of fear deceptively created by the beneficiary mafias, mostly encompassing the political dons, so that the ones who actually are the principal perpetrators of the myriad crimes would escape unscathed leaving the wretched multitudes to bear the brunt of their indulgences.

A plea to let bygones be bygones is neither allowed by the law of the land nor by any ethical or social code. On the contrary, the prevalent statutes call for the guilty to be punished for their crimes and a plea for bargain can only be considered against a confession to having committed the transgressions and making appropriate reparations to the state and those who may have suffered their excesses. Now, that would mean the virtual extinction of his political career, and future. Would he dare? Would others in similar situation dare?

But, then, they have few options left. The movement for speeding up the accountability process further is gaining ground, more so now that their crimes are being accorded public exposure and it is becoming increasingly difficult for the political barons to hide their crass indulgences. They stand naked in the court of the people. All the state actors are unanimous with the popular plea that the guilty must be exposed – and punished.

The adaptation from Faiz reproduced at the beginning of this piece is an apt rendering of the state they suffer from. The panacea for all their crimes is the punishment they have to endure, and must. All paths lead in one direction alone:

For here shall be raised the call for the hereafter,

For here shall be the doomsday.