Hamid Mir and the stateThe outrageous attempt to murder Hamid Mir, arguably Pakistan’s most prominent TV anchor today, is just one more exposure of the utter breakdown of governance throughout Pakistan which, not to put too fine a point on it, is tantamount to the ultimate disaster of state failure. This is not because of this one outrage alone. Nor is it because of thousands of others like it, and much worse. It is because such impunity has become the deadly norm.
Similarly, the government’s standard mantra expressing indignation and ‘zero-tolerance’ cloaks a callous indifference motivated by raw fear and guilt. This malady informs almost its every activity and, for that matter, that of the ruling classes and political society.
Thank God, Hamid Mir has survived and, Insha’Allah, will soon resume his heroic mission to reveal the corruption, double-talk and violence that passes for governance in Pakistan. Thank God, there are others like him, including many dedicated and fearless ladies, who have the heart to speak truth to the ugly faces of arbitrary, evil and monstrous power despite the most vicious threats of assault, defamation, persecution, torture and death.
Our hope as a nation lies in the continued exposure of those in our power and political structures whose whole history has been dominated by a litany of intentional and unintentional harm done to the country. They did absolutely nothing for the Pakistan Movement. They played a key role in bringing about the disgrace, defeat and demise of Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan. They did everything to ensure that no lessons would ever be learned and put into practice to prevent the repetition of this crime against the nation. They buried enquiry commission reports. And today, when the country stands on the brink of disaster, they allow no fundamental and comprehensive reform to avert final failure of the State of Pakistan.
The great English romantic poet Byron wrote “fanatics have their dreams wherewith they weave a paradise for a sect.” For our exploiters, who are a sect unto themselves, paradise means wielding arbitrary and irresponsible power and influence as well as stealing the bread, dreams and life-blood of the downtrodden, honest and hardworking poor and, of course, immunity from any earthly accountability.
The fact that an Islamic and patriotic cloak is used to cover an implacable determination to continue with business as usual indicates a hypocritical mindset which flies in the face of an elementary understanding of the basic tenets of Islam which is, above all, a religion of humanity. Such an attitude that involves an attempt to interpret and use the teachings of the Holy Quran against the meaning and purpose of its message has been condemned in the Holy Quran itself.
Crimes committed in the name of religion have been lamented throughout history. This truth, along with James Boswell’s insight that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, as well as Lord Acton’s wise observation that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, is conveyed in the language of intimidation and death in today’s Pakistan.
Those who, through acts of commission and omission, continue to uphold this state of affairs cannot be called Pakistanis in any meaningful sense. Pakistan was meant to mean freedom and dignity. Those responsible for the state of affairs in Pakistan today can have no concept of the culture and meaning of freedom and dignity. Their history is their DNA. Their actions demonstrate this every single day and the daily news headlines are more eloquent on the subject than any doctoral dissertation can hope to be.
From today, every single person pretending to political leadership and national responsibility, and every single institution that claims a share in the exercise of power and policy stands accused of being responsible to one degree or another for the present state of affairs in Pakistan. They are guilty as accused unless their actions exonerate them. The blood of the people of Pakistan will be on their hands unless it is washed away by selfless and self-sacrificing service, a prospect that appears infinitely remote at this moment.
I have seen the reactions of a number of persons belonging to the so-called comfortable classes to the latest outrage. They were empty. Their responses were essentially those of a politically deadened people who were otherwise perfectly alive and decent human beings.
Accordingly, should the people await miracles? In fact, they have no option but to agitate, organise, struggle, educate and make progress, imbued with the strength of hope and conviction, for as long as it takes for miracles to become commonplace. If not, they will be largely condemned to die useless deaths after having lived abbreviated and wasted lives. However common, this is a tragedy beyond any description. Other peoples have taken huge strides towards overcoming the impediments, obstacles, terrors and humiliations our people face every day. So must we.
Placed below are a few lines the first four of which were written immediately after the judicial murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto; the last four today:
What is it that ails my country?/What is it that I may do?
Why is it I fear an answer/That all I fear may be true?
It is you who ail your country./There is nothing you can’t do.
Yet you fear your every answer/For your questions are not true.
The writer is a former envoy to the US and India. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org