“Always driven, always in the bite of the blast; was the burden of life ever bitterer on earth? Has harsher yoke pressed on calloused shoulders, the plough of dark destiny cut deeper furrows? Were death and dread ever quite so near? And yet we are here.” – Karl Wolfskehl.
Pakistan is a polarized land today, the extent is unprecedented. It is for the first time that all power centers are facing extreme pressures. This cannot be tenable for a prolonged time. We see a free for all in politics and the fatal spillover in the Supreme Court. It seems a dangerous game of Russian roulette where, as Machiavelli implied, the ends justify the means.
General Omar Bradley was known as the soldier’s general because of his care and compassion for those under his command. He famously said: “I am convinced that the best service a retired general can perform is to turn in his tongue along with his uniform and to mothball his opinions”. This holds true for all public office holders prone to the post-retirement syndrome that, through attention-seeking sound bites, seeks and vies for the spotlight that has faded away.
The dominant mindset behind Imran Khan’s eviction from office was that without the trappings of power, he would be reduced to a non-entity. What confounds even his worst enemies is that, for the first time in our history, Imran Khan has taken over this mantle with the faith of the people.
A herculean feat, all polls and analyses now suggest that the people have reposed their overwhelming faith in Imran Khan to steer their lives out of a perpetual morass. This fact gains strength from the ruling coalition’s aversion to seeking legitimacy through the ballot box, a paradigm that has previously remained their mantra to kingship.
Imran Khan is the individual, who has dared challenge and now, undeterred, faces the wrath of the ganged-up status quo. His followers, labeled as burger families, have braved deaths, abductions, custodial torture, teargas, beatings, harassment, and internment with the courage and grit that has eluded even those who deemed themselves champions at it.
We, as a nation, were addicted to the PML-N and PPP that has ruled over us; our infatuation with dictators was no less an opiate. Since independence, we have lived in a stupor that might have been Alice in Wonderland where the odd and bizarre are normal, and expressed words have the opposite meaning.
Is this not what Pakistan has been? Where destructive alien wars were fought espousing peace and prosperity as dividends, a power elite thrived as the masses shriveled, a handful filled their coffers as millions faced excruciating impoverishment, societal fissures were nurtured in the name of conformity and subservience was practiced with freedom being preached.
Today, in this calamitous Pakistan, what we have is a concerted effort to deny the people their right to vote. Our opulent elite are fixated on maintaining the status quo, one that has seen the people reduced to paupers living in a beggared country. This power elite claim to be the only legitimate authority yet refuse the responsibility of adhering to the constitution through which all authorities derive power. It certainly is an implosive game that is being played.
The Republic remains Plato’s most famous and widely read dialogue. It asserts that as a rule, tyranny arises from democracy. No power center is immune to cracks and crannies; they can morph into fatal sinkholes. We are swamped with the ever-desperate warnings by the PDM about the impending disaster if Imran Khan is “allowed to take over”. It reminds one of Churchill’s cabinet members, Arthur Balfour, who called it an autobiography disguised as a history of the universe quipped: “I hear that Winston has written a big book about himself and called it The World Crisis”.
People dying for want of food have seen through the perpetual smoke and mirror illusions. No wonder, they have stood up against and shall prevail upon the non-delivering power elite’s self-ordained entitlement to lord over them by hook or by crook.
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