Puppets on the strings


Pakistan is caught up in this nauseating puppet show which goes on remorselessly. The word shame has virtually disappeared from the lexicon prevalent among the political elite. They also suffer from a denial syndrome that has no parallel in the context of legal or public discourse. They are enamoured by the prospect that, by repeating their narrative of innocence, reams of solid evidence on display against their myriad crimes would, somehow, disappear and could even be replaced by voluminous depositions supporting their own claims.
From the father to the son/daughter, from one sibling to the other, from the leader to those who follow blindly, it is a sordid trail of organised crime perpetrated by holding the state and its institutions hostage. In the process, hordes of those benefitting from sleazy misdemeanours have conveniently transited to hiding behind the veil of innocence and defending this deeply dug-in and pervasive malady afflicting the state.
These puppets are dubbing the accountability process as being a family- and individual-centred exercise which is meant for targeting the opposition. In venting their varied narratives, and building a supposedly incorrigible wall of emotional defence, the dead are being dragged out of their graves to contrive another opportunity for ravaging the state and its riches. The bodies of Z A Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto are the favourites with this exhumation ensemble. They are paraded dead through every crossing and laid bare at every street corner in an attempt to garner sympathy and support for those who usurped the party through an allegedly fake will and who, while they were in power, made no earnest effort to locate and punish Benazir’s murderers.
The statement of a member of the UN team regarding how he was handed a 72-page document upon arrival in Pakistan by the then interior minister Rehman Malik, purported to be adopted as the final report of the UN investigation, is a telling indictment of the PPP leadership. Yet, they have the audacity to blame the country and its institutions for not doing enough to arrest and punish the killers.
A similar kind of game plan is now being enacted with late Begum Kalsum Nawaz whose photographs are being turned into veritable symbols for eliciting public sympathy and support for the Sharif clan and their party. Soon, these photographs will find a permanent place on the polls and walls throughout Punjab, even in other parts of the country, and the lady would be transformed into a ‘martyr’ who gave her life for the cause of ‘democracy’. Here is another grave that would be used for promoting the political objectives of a dynastic clan.
Politics in the country is being systematically degraded to the lowest ebb with stalwarts of the parties shamelessly hurling abuse and invectives at their adversaries. The humiliating levels of vilification constitute a contagious sickness which is fast permeating all echelons of the society. In particular, the social media has been rendered bereft of any care for telling the truth, or being sensitive to even marginal levels of morality. It is a steep fall with nothing left to the imagination. It is deeply depressing to see those who should be using the power of their pen to guide and inspire also falling prey to this pervading depravity and indulging in exchange of abuse that spells shame and dismay.
Is all this happening only because there is now a measure of accountability drive underway whereby at least one don has been sent to the jail while the noose appears to be tightening around the neck of another family dynasty and its affiliates? Is this grand puppet show being staged because the actors fear that this drive, if continued unabated, would spell the end of their shenanigans, and may bring their political journey to an end with a number of them spending the rest of their lives in state captivity?
The uproar is deafening. The opposition is threatening that they would not allow the parliament to function, or any legislation to go through the stages of adoption if their demands were not met. All political parties in the opposition have joined hands in a partnership to upstage the government. In the process, the former chief minister, who is an alleged criminal and is being investigated in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), was not only made the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, but also the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). He would, therefore, sit on judgment on the alleged transgressions of his elder brother, the erstwhile prime minister of the country.
This crass behaviour has also afflicted the domain of what goes around as journalism. A large troupe of agenda-driven puppets is engaged perpetually in promoting a select narrative by assaulting the government and the state institutions as the instigators of what they refer to as ‘selective accountability’. Strangely, but understandably, the emphasis is not on the crimes not having been committed by the ones they are defending, but that some others are not being caught for their alleged blemishes.
Facts and fiction are being merged and there is no distinction left by way of sifting one from the other. Newspaper banner headlines highlight issues and events which don’t even merit a single column space. A vast variety of these illiterate and ill-behaved anchors pontificates profusely during prime-time shows, indulging a penchant for the untrue and the dramatic. They lack the art of engaging in professional debate and discourse. Instead, they act as self-righteous bigots who deliver their sermons regarding every article under the sun with scant respect for their guests whom they treat like a lowly commodity which can be summarily shut up and dispensed with.
The errant politicians, the corrupt elite, the media trumpeters, those complicit with them, their cohorts and accomplices – they are all puppets, nondescript puppets. They are puppets of their incompetence and compulsions. They are puppets of their corruption and wickedness. They are puppets of their crimes and felonies. They are puppets of their grandiose ambition and their insatiable lust. They are puppets of all that should not have been.
But, this puppetry is well past its heyday. Its time is all but up and its perpetrators are getting caught up in the strangulation of the very strings they have been using in the past to advance their paradigm. These strings are now in the hands of others who focus on new horizons.
As T S Eliot prophesied so appropriately:
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language,
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”