Sixty-one years down the line

Posted: August 22, 2008 in General
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Sixty-one years down the line

By Ardeshir Cowasjee

THE 61st anniversary of the coming into existence of Pakistan has come and gone, and once again the leaders of the day evoked the memory of the founder-maker of their country, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, falsely pontificating on how they honour his legacy and follow the path that he set for them.

Were he to know how his country has evolved, how it stands today, he would revolve in his grave, struck with grief and anger — though, as has been said before, he had a fair idea that things would not turn out as planned when he made his remark about each successive government being worse than its predecessor, a prescient saying that has tragically held too true.

Unity, Faith and Discipline were his catchwords, not one of which has been honoured in either spirit or deed. This country, barring its politicians, is disunited as never before. Faith is split between the various vitriolic schools of thought and has but provoked intolerance, bigotry and violence, and as for discipline it is nowhere to be found.

Jinnah’s creed which he set out concisely on August 11, 1947 to the members of the country’s first constituent assembly is remembered now by many, and many, apart from what passes for leadership which has solidly and purposefully ignored it, reiterate it as a constant reminder of what should be.

The first lot of legislators was firmly and firstly told that the first duty of any government is to maintain law and order so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its citizens are fully protected by the state. And, then he set forth his ideology of Pakistan: “You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

On two subsequent occasions when addressing the world he assured his listeners that Pakistan would not be a theocracy, that it would not be ruled by “priests with a divine mission”. Ziaul Haq (Pakistan’s Cromwell?) did his best on the theocracy and divine mission score, and Nawaz Sharif came very close to imposing his divine rule when he brought in his 15th constitutional amendment during his second stint in power, which thankfully for the country he could not push through both Houses.

But Nawaz Sharif is now back with us and his concentrated vengeance has prevailed upon his partner in coalition, Asif Zardari, and we now have this lethal combination running (or should it be ruining?) the country.

Zardari held out for as long as he could but finding himself on a losing wicket, with Sharif’s popularity soaring, he succumbed. So we are now where we are, not knowing from day to day what fate lies in store for the nation, with the leadership embroiled in its revenge game, baying for blood, with governance at a standstill and the Taliban and the warriors of God steadily imposing their writ in the Fata and NWFP areas.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah founded this newspaper, the foremost newspaper of record in Pakistan. In a free country, he supported a free press, which is what we now have. We also have what in his days was unknown, the electronic media, which has been given complete freedom and is using that freedom to gleefully join the politicians in their virulent and vindictive attack upon a cornered president — who remains, as I have consistently maintained, the best of the worst lot.

Largely, no holds are barred when it comes to the anchor people and to the various commentators who are rounded up and circulated amongst the numerous ‘news’ channels. This is not freedom, it is a form of wrongful prosecution bordering on persecution. And sadly there are certain elements of the press which are no better and which have joined the blood-lust.

Thankfully, Jinnah never knew he had spawned a nation which would, as the years pass, become increasingly intolerant and bigoted, with individuals having scant respect for the opinions of others. There is now little give and take, there is little discussion and debate. There is but the hurling of abuse, intense rumour-mongering, and disinformation.

When one individual disagrees with another rather than thrashing out the matter in civilised manner, agreeing to disagree amicably, accusations are flung that the other is a traitor, or anti-Pakistan, or an agent of the CIA, RAW or Mossad. Negativism has become the order of the day.

Impeachment is no light matter. It is an extremely delicate operation which should be handled with dignity and intelligence, constitutionally and legally. It does not, in any manner, involve vengeance. We see daily photographs in the press, and shots on our television screens, of the smug powers that be and who are now in charge of drawing up the ‘chargesheet’ against the sinning president, lolling around on plush sofas in gilded drawing rooms preparing endless drafts.

They should be in the precincts of the parliament, in committee rooms, sitting around tables, projecting some sort of dignified comportment and intent of constitutional purpose.

The cards are stacked, the rats are running, as was to be expected. They must protect their rear-ends so that when it is all over they are there in position to join in the rush to grab whatever spoils remain. They are acting in character.

When I recently met my friend, President General Pervez Musharraf, at the Governor’s House, in Karachi, he was in good spirits. I told him he should not feel isolated, that there was another leader who had acted in similar manner. Who, he enquired? The little king of Id, I told him.

Though Musharraf still retains his sense of humour he does not read page eight of Jinnah’s newspaper. I handed him a photocopy of a cartoon printed on July 6.

The sequence showed three prisoners, all trussed up, waiting to be presented by the wizard to his king. The first was caught cursing you, he was told. “Off with his head,” came the order. The second was caught stealing bread. “Feed him to the lions,” was the response. And worst of all, the third man was caught falsifying documents, money laundering and pilfering 700m in corporate loans. “Hire him,” roared the king.

Some of us must hope that the vultures do not devour their prey or his family — especially his mother and wife. His intent may often have been good but his political allies were the lowest of the low. They came and went, each time to be replaced by worse scum.

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Comments
  1. Dirty Euro says:

    Cromwell was a moderniser. He stopped the king having tyranny. Ziaul Haq got rid of an elected leader. They are totally different. Cromwell allowed jews back into england. OK he was a controversial in Ireland. But he was moderate to England, Scotland, and the ulstermen.

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