Why only choose between Bilawal, Nawaz or Imran. Where are the people who think for Pakistan, think intelligently?
Clownery – the recent London visit of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) establishment to gain the “advice” of Nawaz Sharif was absolute clownery. You don’t have to be an ultranationalist to realise how and why it is not okay to make decisions about a country of 220 million in a territory governed by our former colonial masters. And to top it all off, the state ministers sit in front of the national press and downplay the event; they claim that it isn’t that big of a deal; that the “opposition” is playing dirty politics.
First off, what opposition? Second, do they all think we’re dense, simple-minded beings; annoying pests they can swat off? Who’s to say who the clown is? Us, Pakistanis – maybe we are the clowns. Clowns enough to accept such behaviour, clowns enough to support it, clowns enough to fight each other over it.
Frustration and anger are not powerful enough words to describe the emotions simmering within our youth today. Without any regard for the social climate, the prime minister of Pakistan, who was supposed to free us all from Imran Khan’s “evil clutches”, flew to London on a personal visit. The London meeting was not an isolated event; our political parties aren’t mere parties anymore. They are akin to cults where the leader can never be wrong. They are the messiahs, and only they know the way, only they decide the way. Such endeavours have been part and parcel of our politics ever since the Sharif and Bhutto dynasties took over, but this does not make it right. The fate of our Pakistan, my Pakistan should not be decided by a convict in London. Not only is this demeaning to Pakistanis, it is disrespectful to the very idea of Jinnah’s Pakistan.
They mock us, they mock our concerns and they mock our criticism. After all, we’re just regular Pakistanis who can’t ever come close to the intelligence and benevolence of the great leader. And the mere idea that Imran – someone who violates the supreme law of the land, bypasses diplomatic protocol, tarnishes our global repute (or what was left of it) – will somehow make everything right is not my prerogative either.
Honour is something we revere quite a lot in Pakistan. Izzat, as we call it, is hard earned. To say that it is something which the average Pakistani spends years in cultivating and collecting wouldn’t be wrong. But since we are, in fact, on the road towards moral decline, this honour has been restricted to women and their chastity only. That our leaders can be dishonourable, that they lose their izzat is unheard of. After all, jail time is a good look for our messiahs. To me, and I’m sure to the youth, this distinction between izzat doesn’t work anymore. How can any sentient being living in Pakistan not question Nawaz’s stay in London? The man was penalised by our courts in the Al-Azizia references.
While serving his sentence, he gets sick. And his sickness, this horrific sickness, can only be cured in London. Do you not wonder if a former prime minister, someone with all the money in the world, someone who still wants to lead this country cannot be treated here with all his privileges, how can an average Pakistani expect to gain treatment then? The fact that as a former prime minister, you have been unable to create effective and quality health facilities, a basic need, how do you have the gall to stand in front of me and ask me to vote for you. Maybe we are the children of a lesser God; children who are only deserving of life when they have access to public funds.
This is the man who runs this government – and I say this with the utmost responsibility – a man who has been jailed by our courts, a man whose children deny any relationship with the country their father once led. It’s almost as if we are watching a ventriloquist perform on stage. The performance, however, is bombing and the saviours seem to not want to do the saving.
A deeper look
But is it really that deep? It was just a meeting – every leader has party meetings. Was it really that wrong? “Yes, yes, and yes”; was the answer my professor gave me. We live in a globalised world that is connected at many a seams, many a helms. It is not easy to separate the political from the apolitical. Nawaz sought refuge, albeit under the context of illness, in London – a country where he and/or his offspring have economic investments. Consider this, would the threat of incurring damage or liability on one’s assets not motivate them to do things which ordinarily they wouldn’t do? Of course it would. And if you think that the English are above our “dirty politics”, then you, my friend, are a part of a bigger problem. One which I don’t have the word space to currently discuss. This is one of the reasons why we are ridiculed on the world stage. Nawaz, a man who has been a popular leader ever since Ziaul Haq took him under his wing, has assets outside of the country he leads. It’s not illegal, sure, but the fact that this feat makes our entire country vulnerable, in more ways than one, should be enough to arouse questions and criticism.
That you make “important” decisions about our country outside of the country, under the guidance of someone who isn’t, at least in my book, fit enough to make those decisions, isn’t news. Many weird, horrifying things have happened to this country over the past few decades. This seems almost too minor an inconvenience to talk about. We know it’s wrong (hopefully). But what can you do – there are more pressing matters to talk about: terrorism, insurgency, electricity, inflation etc. And to those who think like this, I would ask to think a little deeper. This meeting signified a lot of things for me. The first was how my trust in Shehbaz Sharif as a leader was short-sighted, and the second, something far more sinister is a question – where are the leaders?
Why is it that I can only choose between Bilawal Bhutto, whose biggest achievement is being the son of Benazir Bhutto, or Nawaz, a convicted criminal, or Imran, a populist leader. Where are the people who talk for Pakistan, who talk intelligently, where are the people who think for Pakistan, think intelligently. Are we doomed to be governed by these power-grabbers, egomaniacs, who have no respect for what we want, what we demand? The potential leaders, I think, realise early on that the system is rigged against them. Perhaps this is why some of our brightest minds prefer to leave the country they grow up wanting to serve. A tragedy in its own right.
To my Pakistan
When I hear stories about the Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, when my grandmother tells me about the tragedies she witnessed, when her voice cracks as she recounts the deaths she had to live through, I cannot help but feel ashamed. It feels like I’ve failed her, it feels like we, all of us have failed our Pakistan. Today, we care more about a disgraced Islamic scholar’s love life than we do about the missing people in Balochistan. We care more about alleged foreign conspiracies than we do about our own failings. Pakistan is on the verge of collapse and we see our prime minister flying to London for “advice”. As students of political science, we are encouraged to remain objective in our writings, but for this piece, I take leeway. For this piece today, I vent my helplessness. It’s all going up in flames and all we can do is write about it, read about it, talk about it. What have we done to our Pakistan? How brutally we’ve all destroyed it.
What a shame, what a tragedy.