This is how the common man of Pakistan precieves their brand new President and the state of affairs. This article doesNOT reflect my private beliefs and I have tried to keep it as unbiased as possible.
Something very regular happened today that has left me feeling strangely hollow inside with an indefinite yearning to do something that I will gladly be answerable for before my Lord. Something for the people of this country and to repay the debt I owe to this soil. How? I don’t know, never has the dilemma of answering a one-word question haunted an office clerk like this before.
Let me explain. A fervent political debate added to the clamor of the office canteen today. I too voiced my view and told those who believed in their preference to maintain silence and did not participate in the referendum, that Mr. Mussharaf has done some good and should be encouraged and we should be indebted to him for the takeover because we don’t really have anybody else ready for that position. I got a lot of pointed stares that alleged -- ‘you just said it’!
Suddenly it has made me apprehensive and anxious for my family and the land we tread. Are we really at a juncture where even if we want to choose there is nothing left to choose from? I know I am a common man and what difference does it make to me concerning who is in power. If the military government fails like the political ones, the country might still linger onto existence or collapses with one last breathe. If it succeeds, how long will our Chief Executive be able to keep the sticky hands of our generals out of the treasure chest? But what does stir disquiet deeply is that why is the world is getting used to India and Pakistan sitting on top of a barrel of gunpowder? This time even the latest escalation in tensions along the border of nuclear-armed neighbors did not outshine the Middle East crisis in the international news.
Our ears are now numb from hearing about war since maturity stole our innocence. Since this latest coup, twice had India managed to find raison d'être to crib about and exchange bullets and hot words! This reminds me of the fable Dadi Jee (paternal grandmother) used to tell me at bedtime about the boy who kept crying wolf? And if my memory serves me right when everything else fails me, the third time round the wolf did really pounce! I just hope we aren’t as immune as those villagers in the fable and that the Indian fangs are only bared and not used. With all this peril of warfare I feel bushed with little vigor to carry on. I wonder if the soil of my nation feels the same way too.
Maybe I should pay more attention to the affaires of the state after all and shakeup the people in my district to do likewise. But then what would those wretched fools know about anything besides the morsel in their mouth and the roof upon their heads. They come in the meager percentage of our educated class who knows a bit of what’s happening from the cable comparative to the rest who are as good, not as rotten as zombies. They are oblivious of the political setup of our country; the momentous responsibility of a president, prime minister or chief executive holds no consequence. All they know is that who ever sits on the kursi (Seat of authority) is responsible to make sure that there is an increase in their pay, groceries and utility rates should go down and action is taken against any thefts in their vicinity. It’s not even funny anymore…
The truth is that the common man doesn’t speak out; he just listens or cheers because that is how the past politicians have trained him for the psychosomatic battle of elections. For him whoever is on ‘seat’ is ideal as long as he produces results and lines them up fast! They want to see something happening! Anything happening that gives them psychological satisfaction just the way they want an injection for every ailment whether its required or not. If the flour prices fall, they cheer for their leader… and if something doesn’t appeal in the next few seconds, they ruthlessly take the street with protest marches.
I have come to the conclusion that we belong to an insensitive sovereignty, when on earth anyone makes a mistake we think he should be severely punished. We believe that criminals should be locked up; murderers should be slain and those who cheat us should be…… God help those who cheat us for He has more mercy!
Are our memories so short lived that we refuse to remember the praise we lavished upon the accused once? How unfair, I mean wasn’t the country heading in some direction at least, I wasn’t guiding it, neither were the rest of you and it couldn’t have been running on autopilot, could it? It’s besides the fact that Dadi Jee insists that God is running it!!!
The repeated raise in the petroleum prices when the oil prices in the international market have tumbled is another wave of inflation that’s hit the common men hard adding to the wretchedness of life. Transporters have increase the fares and the cost of production of every commodity has increase resulting in a price hike across the board. My wife and her neighbor friend keep complaining that we will die under heaps of rising utilities bills, direct and indirect taxes, or suffocate paying for groceries, education, healthcare, clothing etc. My wife and I argue about the guy down the street who was crazy and desperate enough to commit suicide because of unemployment though some say he had indulged in criminal activities to bring bread home. Its insane to expect soaring results in 2-3 years that haven’t seen sunlight for decades! You agree don’t you?
What’s more is that the actual polling turnout of people is a mystery to me but the lack of concern of the people was defiantly reflected by the deserted polling stations. It scrapes my nerves that they people can’t find the time to show concern, how totally insensitive! Still a great many Pakistani's are all for Mr. Musharraf and with good reasons too. He has dealt with most of the uproars pretty well. But what brought a beam to my face was the manner in which he gave some $#.%^ to the Indians on their own homeland!
He is well advised and well informed and the decisions he is taking seem very levelheaded to me. What still puts him out of the curve is that although he is trying to pull the nation out of a whirlpool, yet the load of his hand picked unintelligent cabinet seems to be pulling him down in the steep mountain climb. And then perhaps he might just turn out to be out Kamal Ataturk who will show the religious extremist and fundamentalists their true place.
To be honest, this whole affair about the referendum gave me food for thought. The perfect image projection would make Bush blush! Mr. Musshraf wears his uniform and it screams ‘I’m a patriot, dedicated to the army and the nation I defend.’ The awan (nationals) sways to the beat because no matter what history or newspapers holds, he is the dedicated man of steel because he wears khaki, salutes with one hand with a gun in the other. At least he is better then our whole political lobby who stayed to gorge the nations wealth, right?
Now I realize how spineless our historians are and how biased our history books were, for they cheated us of a fair opinion about our political leaders for now I see through four eyes (if you count my spectacles) that the same kind of people rise to make similar mistakes yet all our leaders are spelled g-r-e-a-t! At least we are witnessing this leader make it big as he is trying…I must say that the banners, posters and all the lavishness defiantly awed me. I wonder what the campaign would have been like had he had an opponent, though no doubt that he would have still won hands down like he did. That poster in the uniform though intimidating defiantly gave a grim look that meant business, he almost looked like Zia-ul-Haq sahib. The pictures with the poise of feudal grace brought to my mind the Nawaz Sharif campaign; too bad he isn’t here to go green with envy. And last not but not the least, that shirwani and the Quaid-cap with the Quaid salute brought tears to my eyes. He even speaks with mixed English and Urdu just like my good old Quaid-e-Azam (may he be resting in peace) and so what if the Quaid didn’t get to wear an Amir Adnan’s tailored outfit!
No, he doesn’t look like our previous leaders and administrators but I can relate him to them because they all have one thing in common. That ‘kuris’ that few are privileged to snuggle in! And if all these sentiments are truly in him, Id like to give him the gracious Quaid nod, the stiff Zia like salute and the feudal thump on the back and saying, ‘Good Luck’! And if his campaign manager helped him portray his emotions, Id like to say, ‘It was a job well-done Sir!’ And I’m really glad that you found such generous sponsors!!!