By: Humayun Gauhar
My last article left me depressed me in the writing of it. I ended by asking: “Is there anything positive?” Yes there are, but they get submerged in the negative that outnumber and outweigh them. It depressed some others too in the reading of it. Unpleasant truths always hurt, and none more so than to their purveyor. It is an unpopular but necessary thing to do if one is to transform negative to positive. Someone has to take the jump: who better than one who can walk the plank. Else it’s betraying a God-given ability. Such abilities come with a purpose. Like Iqbal said: Mujhay hai hukm-e-azan, La Ilaha il Allah –“I have been ordained to speak the Truth: ‘There is no god but God’.”
Those who take unpleasant truths seriously have a chance of correction. Those who take refuge in misplaced patriotism stand still. Instead, they question the truth’s purveyor or take comfort in making comparisons to those worse off. They forget that it is the message that is important, not the messenger. Such people are typical ostriches – if I don’t see something, it doesn’t exist.
Look at the scorecard of the political match in Lahore last Sunday. Winner (by default): Asif Zardari: Loser: Nawaz Sharif. Man of the Match: Imran Khan. ‘The Imran Factor’ has burst into the national political equation and drawing room chatter – positive for many, an unpleasant truth for some. Why? Because whatever his detractors might say, Imran has been telling the truth for 15 years.
Positive: The decline and pain we have been undergoing is an evolutionary learning process. If the learning is positive, it will help us become a nation.
Positive: Like western economies, ours has not crossed the point of no return, only the official has. That’s positive because the phoenix does not rise until there are ashes. Our total economy, formal and informal, is twice as big as the official. The latter is ‘informal’ because government has not bothered to document it, though it is perfectly legal and not to be confused with the underground or black economy. Document and tax it and official bankruptcy will disappear faster than you can say “bailout”. We have a lot that is positive to build on. Our economic fundamentals are not as bad as Europe’s or America’s and with the right people and political will we can get out of the quagmire faster than you can imagine – and without handouts.
Positive: Our nuclear programme, not because possessing WMD is anything great but because we have demonstrated that in a crunch we can rise to the challenge.
Positive: There are many amongst us who are Pakistanis first and last, even those who are not Muslims. You only have to recall the Christian heroes of the 1965 war with India. We are born into our faith anyway, God be praised. It is the cleric’s religion that takes us off the correct path from which many Muslims have strayed. There are many amongst us who do not take western citizenship when we can and are called “stupid” for it by those who do or wish they could. That’s positive. Shows commitment. Nothing can force us out of our country for it is our country, the only one we have. We all serve our land in our own way with whatever talent and means God has given us. Do we make something of it or should we divide our loyalty and become second-class citizens in someone else’s country? Speaking for myself, God has given me everything that a man needs, and more, much more. In return, I try and tell the truth as I see it at the time. I am satisfied, at peace with myself. Not many people can say that. Not because I am anything great but because I am lucky.
Despite much scepticism, Imran Khan’s rally in Lahore was a resounding success, not least because his was not the usual rent-a-crowd. People came voluntarily, wives in tow, children in laps. Imran did Nawaz Sharif and his party of sulking brats more damage than anyone had ever done. Come to think of it, Pakistan and its simple people were the biggest winners. If Imran goes on like this in the rest of Pakistan, he could at least hold the swing vote come the next elections, if any, or even win them. I’m very happy for Imran: he has come a long way – scratchy beginning, slow start, but he’s scored his maiden political century. Well played, Sir!
One century does not a winner make. There’s still a long way to go. Lahore is not Pakistan. Imran has to make similar powerful showings in other provinces of Pakistan. The country is deeply splintered into fiefdoms –feudal lords and tribal warlords, worshipers of shrines and their custodians, dynasties and cults and all that is primitive, all being run by the Deep State.
This “not having ‘winning’ candidates” bogey is nonsense. If Imran seems a likely winner, ‘winning candidates’ will run to him like hyenas to a kill and bears to honey. They are opportunists. The ‘political machine’ will come with it: it’s not rocket science. This is where Imran has to battle two contradictions.
One: While Imran’s rhetoric is revolutionary his politics is traditional electoral. Revolutionary politics strives to destroy an iniquitous status quo; electoral politics seeks to preserve it.
Two: If Imran gets into cahoots with ‘winning candidates’ most of who are corrupt, Imran may do well in elections but he will betray his revolutionary promise. His hints about possibly ganging up with certain established parties doesn’t portend well for revolution.
Right now Imran cannot win power but he can be put in office by the Deep State, America included – the usual standard operating procedure. Is he willing to be their pretty face up front while our traditional puppeteers keep pulling the strings? With America seemingly having decided that, “If ‘Islamists’ cannot be prevented from taking power we will place our own moderate faces of Islam in office.” Imran is the perfect candidate to provide that face. Does he want that? Or does he wish to come to office and power with the support of the people? ‘Office’ and ‘power’ are two different things. Gandhi had great power but he never held office. Yousaf Raza Gilani holds high office but no power. Get it? Only one who has both can bring revolution.
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