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Friday Sep 29, 2023, Rabi-al-awwal 14, 1445 Hijri

On Savage Seas

20 November, 2007

By Anwaar Hussain

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This piece is neither an attempt at defamatory lampoon nor a noxious ridicule of General Musharraf’s actions. It is with a heavy heart indeed that one pens these lines. With heavy heart because one is a personal witness to the qualities of head and heart of the esteemed general. For those qualities to have degenerated to the extent that today, as a direct result of his decisions, Pakistan is adrift on choppy seas like never before is some fall for the man once known to the scribe.

One would, therefore, be guilty of extreme intellectual dishonesty if one was to allow certain successes of the general as an excuse to gloss over his recent excesses. If to nothing else, one owes it to the common Pakistanis’ collective conscience that seems to be alive and kicking against his overkills of the late. It is but plain to see that if the tidal wave of Pakistani opinion does not alter the course of the nation, inter alia, ‘providence’ of our ‘chosen gods’ will, sooner than later, interfere in the game he is playing. This is no idle omen.

He cited two grounds for his Marshal Law Lite.

1. Judicial activism of Supreme Court Chief Justice

2. Upsurge of Islamic fundamentalism

Which, if any, of the two is the real reason? Let us put these grounds to test.

Reason number one can be rejected out of hand because it simply does not pass the test. For if that was the case there was no need for summarily dismissing and then detaining some 44 other judges of Supreme and High Courts. The kill of the Chief Justice should have sated the blood lust. It did not.

Reason number two fails even more miserably and not just because no newer powers are granted to the government under Emergency to deal with religious fundamentalism. There are laws galore to deal with that. But because even if it did, a localized Emergency in the effected areas should have been sufficient. There was no need to take away the fundamental rights of the entire nation. In any case, while Pakistani jails are crammed with thousands of liberal activists and politicians, barely a handful of militants have been dispatched to kingdom come since the proclamation of Martial Law Lite on November 3.

Furthermore, our liberal media, a continuous thorn in the sides of the foaming-at-the-mouths radicals for persistently showing the world how handsome Pakistani men and women folks were, has been gagged shut. Almost all the liberal/secular minded flag bearers of human rights and women’s rights are either detained or are behind the bars. Another moderate pillar of Pakistani society is the lawyer’s body. At one time after November 3, close to 3500 lawyers languished in prisons, thousands have been beaten and wounded in their peaceful protests resulting in Lahore alone, according to a Pakistani American lawyer, about 1,600 of these notaries being treated for wounds and fractures as a result of the general’s brutal onslaught. The atrocity goes on. That is some fall, some fall.

Who should know it more than the general, a student of military strategy as he is, that one judges better certain facts and principles when one sees them outside of the framework in which they usually exist. The scribe does that exercise for him and the change in point of view is as terrifying to the eyes as is chilling to the soul. One feels compelled responding to the call of conscience.

In his latest moves, none will credit him for the vision that he claims to have for Pakistan. The vision thing, one might humbly suggest, may be thrown safely out of the nearest window. It is of selfish motives that he stands accused instead. For power matters not to visionaries, since vision never dies. One knows of no condition more tolerable to a visionary who had eight long years to launch his ideas from the pinnacle of power than to be free of the cares and worries of governance, to watch from a distance the sprouting of the seeds he had sown, to follow with an involved detachment the changes in his homeland, its culture, politics, art and industry and to be able to frolic happily with his grand children all this while.

One is not taken in by the general’s claim because his absence from power could never break all the bonds which attach him to Pakistan if he truly loved his country. Posterity still speaks of those who, like him supposedly, have embossed great movements upon the human soul. Why contrive a continued stay in power through overt and covert manipulations and, by default, draw upon himself the scorn of a majority of his countrymen who now see him as an oppressive autocrat?

Common Pakistanis are not as gullible as the general may be thinking. To their credit, some of them, having perused Machiavelli’s wisdom, know that his opponents too are no angels. They know, as Machiavelli puts it that, “all men seek power, and there is none who would not be an oppressor if he could; all, or nearly all, are ready to sacrifice the rights of others to their own interests.” The irony, however, is that it is the general’s good self right now that Machiavelli speaks of, him being enthroned on the seat of power in Pakistan today. Perceptions, his staff officers once learnt from him, are deadlier than reality.

Eight years of continuous ‘saving’ of Pakistan by the ‘saviors’ and look where we are today. At home and abroad, almost all stand aghast and marvel at the lunacy of the general’s words and actions. One only hopes that he realizes sooner that he has landed Pakistan, wandering aimless on churning seas as it already was, bang in the midst of most bizarre times of its tumultuous history. So brazen is the divide between governmental words and actions this time that the ground reality and the sham being poured out in its name has thrown Pakistani ‘newspeak’ to altogether newer heights. What else would one make of the general’s statement of ‘taking away of basic rights to facilitate return to democracy’? If that be true then war is peace, freedom is slavery and Hail Orwell !

By proclaiming, even if remotely seriously, that people can exercise better their right of vote when their basic rights are ceased, the general embraces fallacious theories spawned in hell. For if that indeed is the case then Pakistan, in storm or weather fair, is doomed to walk the trackless course of time till its shelf life is over beyond extension. Its citizens, with ruffled dreams and crumbled hopes, will one day be tiptoeing ghostlike as third rate citizens in alien lands, ridden with fear and shame, shorn of all pride.

One hates to be the bringer of dreadful omens but, unless the lead actors decide to pull back from the brink, we are nearer the grand crescendo than many might grant. If ever Pakistan needed prayers, it is now.

O lord who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name, have mercy on us.

Copyrights : Anwaar Hussain

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