The hovering shadows


“With despair, true optimism begins: the optimism of the man who expects nothing, who knows he has no rights and nothing is coming to him, who rejoices in counting on himself alone and in acting alone for the good of all.”
Jean Paul Sartre
There comes a time in the history of nations when hope takes over and the hovering shadows begin to recede to the background to be enveloped by new paradigms.
I don’t see that happening in Pakistan not because it cannot happen, but because the political elite of the country, more notably the ones who are no longer in power, are all ganged up to thwart the prospect.
One may ask why is that so, after all, because, if it actually happens, it may also be of benefit to them, and everyone else who is interested in seeing the advent of a confident, self-reliant and tolerant country that would play a constructive role in empowering its people to break the shackles of poverty and backwardness? If that were not the case, should one surmise that they would much rather keep the people captive in the tentacles of regression so that they would, forever, remain hostage to their manipulations, be subservient to their acts of cruelty and their infatuation with self-righteousness and personal glorification?
While that may well be so, there is another factor which far surpasses this and other similar considerations. This is directly related to the tactics the traditional beneficiary elite have often resorted to in ruling the country and bringing it to the verge of virtual collapse, and how, if it were to change in any manner, it would mortally dent their prospect of ever coming back into power.
Seventy years is a long time in a nation’s history, particularly through the nascent years when the foundations of a new state are laid and it begins its journey to attain a position of relevance and secure the welfare of its people. That, unfortunately, has not been the case with Pakistan as, each new government that came into power, tried to stamp its own writ on the state in an abrasive and authoritarian manner which, over time, took it further away from the enshrining principles of its creation so eloquently encapsulated in the Quaid’s address of August 11 from the floor of the first constituent assembly of the country.
A state that was envisioned to take pride in being tolerant towards its citizens irrespective of their faith, caste, colour and creed began to sink deep into the throes of radicalisation and extremism soon after its creation. And a state that was founded on the principles of equitable dispensation towards all its people as being “first, second and last citizens of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations” divided them along the very same demarcations, and rendering them cruelly vulnerable at the hands of vigilante justice perpetrated by those it had equipped with disproportionate power and rights. The state, therefore, was divided, at its very outset, among the privileged and the lesser- and non-privileged classes. With time, the privileged dug in their heels to become the ruling elite and the lesser- and non-privileged were left to fend off others’ largesse – if and when it would be tossed their way!
The faces of the ruling elite changed, but there was no change in the manner the country was administered. It was rendered even worse when the Sharifs introduced the instrument of corruption which was used as a potent weapon to buy people’s souls and loyalties to serve their masters in return for financial gratifications. From there on, it was the pursuit of getting a hold of the state’s exchequer that held the ruling elite captive. While the Sharifs and the Bhutto/Zardaris were taking turns at looting and plundering, the state became increasingly dependent on foreign dole-outs, rendering it weaker and susceptible.