The Nation, Lahore

February 28,1996, Lahore Pakistan 


Food for Thought

The spirit is still alive


Dr Rana Jawad Asghar

Every day we hear worst possible stories about our rulers. They Em in turn tell us how bad as a nation we are. They stress that it is only due to them that Pakistan is sill alive (though in a bad shape). Their courtiers tell us in so many different articles and news conferences that if they have to leave the throne, Pakistan will be disintegrated in no time. As they have big mansions in every fashionable and expensive city of the world and lots of millions in foreign currencies in secret Swiss bank accounts, they have nothing to worry. So we, the average Pakistanis, are always being blackmailed by these black predictions. What are we going to do if there is no Pakistan?

When I was studying at the University of Bristol, there were some Pakistani students studying education under some government arrangement. Many of us became good friends. We always considered ourselves Pakistanis, not belonging to any ethnic background. Strange as it may appear, one of us was a "real" Sindhi, one Mohajir, one Balochi and one Punjabi. We even lived in three different hostels but we never thought of or felt the differences what our powerful class believes us to have. Many times we did have fights among ourselves but it was always a fight between friends or brothers, not between a Sindhi, Mohajir or a Punjabi.

In summer we went to Europe for vacations. During our journey bne day, we arrived in Brussels early morning. It was the peak tourist season and there was no vacancy in all the four youth hostels. We also tried different hotels but the response was negative. We were doing all this from a phone at the main railway Station. There was also a Pakistani standing there quietly observing us. When he felt that we had enough, he came forward and invited us to Stay at his place. He never asked us which province or city we or our parents came from? He only saw some Pakistanis in trouble and came forward to help. Who says that we are a dead nation? He was not a rich person, a simple labourer working hard on foreign soil and who cared about his fellow countrymen. Even though finally we were able to find a good hotel near the centre of the city, his offer lifted our spirits and morale so much that we narrated this incident to virtually every white we met afterward.

Similarly we are told not to cry when we are being deprived of our basic human rights and make no complaints when our superrich rulers snatch away through taxes and high prices whatever we earn as fixed salary. Governments consider it a crime against the state when it is just a complaint against some ruthless political or bureaucratic big lord.

Our rulers are innocent in the sense that are always surrounded by corrupt and inept advisers. As these advisers lack intellectual qualities themselves, they try very hard that their bosses also don't use their head. The boss is excluded from the real world and a make-believe world is created for him, where everything is bright and shiny. People are smiling and cheering and thanking the big lord for making such a nice ruler for them. Those who dare to knock on this make-believe world with their sorrows and complaints are agents of opposition, RAW, un-Islamic, Islamic fundamentalist, Russia, the USA, etc., etc. Otherwise who in his right mind can advise the Prime Minister to give a Press statement which gives "happy" news of more new taxes on' already hungry and deprived public. It is after very long that our beggars have now once again started begging only for food.

In the same newspaper, another news item said that one Chief Minister has imported a big luxury car tax free. One of the perks our public representative don't want to give up even symbolically. Can anyone ask them, why when even you are taxing medicines, do you allow yourselves to have these luxuries tax free? I am sorry but no one is clean in this house. Thank God that this time opposition has objected to the rise in the perks and salaries of our public representatives from President to member of Parliaments. I don't know how many of them are really poor who can't live without these huge salaries and luxuries bought by the money and exploitation of poor. But we are told not to object.

So why are these advisers successful in manipulating their masters? Besides lacking intellectual qualities, they try to exclude others from the close circle. As rulers are under stress, anyone who can narrate rosy tales is a good person after all. They don't want to listen to anyone who tells them they are wrong. The advisers enrich themselves at the cost of their bosses until the time people are gathered outside their gates and rulers start wondering what went wrong? Everything was so fine and smooth. This must be a foreign intervention. Yes, he is an agent of RAW, CIA, KGB or whatever.


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