Freedom is not Achieved by Sitting at Home

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Hafeez Khan

Our physical training (PT) instructor in Burn Hall was a retired “Subedar;” equivalent of an Army Sergeant. All students in Senior School were split into two Houses, St Michael and St Gabriel. Each had its instructor. I was part of St Michael. Our Subedar Sir was a tall, ram-rod erect and well-built man, supporting a huge moustache. He was imposing and a disciplinarian. Woe would befall those who crossed him. He would inflict punishments that would take your breath away. They ranged from “Pithu” to push-ups and squats, amongst others.
His favourite was “Pithu,” a backpack loaded with stones that you had to wear and run around an Olympic-sized soccer field. We tried our damndest to stay out of trouble, even if his demands were killing us. He was more dreaded than the “benders” inflicted by our priest teachers; addressed as “Father” or “Brother” beside their names. For any deviations, we received lashes across our backsides bending over a desk. Such rigid upbringing was tough yet in hindsight I realize it was a character-building process that served us well later in life.
This flashback came when I was preparing to write about Pakistan’s political scene. It is nothing short of a roller coaster ride. IK’s complete blackout on the media has not affected him. It is the media that is suffering; their viewership and revenues have sharply declined. People migrated to social media to express themselves and watch independent analysts. Valiant journalists, who had to flee Pakistan, had their following quadruple in weeks. The social media platform Tik-Tok, mostly used by youngsters, suddenly gained respectability when Imran Khan joined it. He got 3 million followers within 36 hours; a record on this platform.
Why is all this happening? It is the 21st century and technology has overtaken our lives. I am visiting the USA to spend time with my son, Faisal Khan and catch up with friends. Faisal is involved in E-Commerce and I spent a couple of days at his fulfillment centre. The precision, speed, systems and technical advancement are both mind-boggling and fascinating. I compare this to a visit to a friend’s warehouse two decades ago where laborers would carry sacks on their backs in sweltering heat. The world has changed faster in these decades than in the last two hundred years.
I am putting a spotlight on these changes to jolt our rulers to wake up and smell the coffee. As the battle lines sharpen between those who seek the “rule of law” and those who want to “rule through tyranny”, the concerns of those who love their motherland are increasing. Respected journalist Moeed Pirzada framed this discussion nicely. He stated that “rule of law” really means “rule through logic”; laws are deduced through logic based on the common good. A simple fact our rulers and their backers find difficult to comprehend.
One understands where PML(N) and Maulvi Fazal are coming from. The support of PPP makes sense too. Between them, they looted Pakistan to their hearts’ content. They want to safeguard their ill-gotten wealth and prolong their rule to assimilate more. Their attacks on IK through their chief executioner, Rana Sana, have reached levels of persecution never seen before in Pakistan.
What defies logic is the position taken by the Establishment. They are using techniques used in the early 20th century for child-raising, “spare the rod and lose the child; use the rod and save the child”. It is not valid anymore, the masses have grown up; they are well informed. Since April 2022, all attempts at coercion, harassment, cruelty and suppression have blown up in the ruler’s face. Techniques of General Zia will not work; it’s not the eighties when everything could be brushed under the carpet. In this age of digital media, it is not possible.
I have friends and relatives who served in senior positions in the army. I recollect many of them stating “Institutions have long memories.” Then how come those who were spewing venom against them openly up until recently have suddenly become their favourites? From all accounts, instructions on how to conduct Pakistan’s affairs are issued from London. What happened here? General Bajwa is a nemesis for Pakistan’s emergence as an independent self-respecting nation. He made agreements with Sharifs and Zardari in his capacity. Army is not anyone’s valet; they are the bastions of safeguarding this nation. This nexus defies logic.
I have serious concerns about the recent pronouncements by the Chief. He involves the army into agriculture, raising foreign capital, managing the economy and determining who can or cannot take leadership roles in politics. Ayub Khan pulled it off in the sixties when the army was respected, politicians were in disarray and the public was uninvolved. That has changed.
Imran Khan till early 2022 was losing steam under continued onslaught by a manipulative media. His engineered downfall reversed this trend. Masses refused to accept the crooks installed to replace him. His firm stance against these lackeys and efforts at creating awareness for an independent and self-respecting Pakistan have sunk deep into the psyche of the nation. The flood of support he enjoys cannot be dammed up. It is against the laws of physics.
Freedom cannot be achieved without getting involved. Voters should check their votes. The masses need to come out, express their true feelings and stand up to bullying. They have to resist voter fraud and rigging to ensure their will prevails.