There is no shortage of surprises in the land of the pure. Remember the case of the missing persons? They weren’t missing at all. It’s just that the people who had detained them couldn’t find them anymore. Then there was memogate, a saga involving two most unsavoury characters, one of whom displayed cloying loyalty and the other cornball clichés and exceptional native cunning. Even though the Americans didn’t want to touch it with a pair of tongs, the issue must have been terribly important because their Lordships felt it had global significance. The public is still in the dark about Haqqani’s endgame bunker.
It now looks as if we will have to add another question to the time honored Latin query Qui iudicare iudices? (Who will judge the judges?) This is udicis iudicem filiorum? (Who will judge the judge’s sons?) I’ll leave this query to the Pakistani talk show hosts who are still grappling with the case of the prime minister’s son. I don’t usually watch the local talk shows, but at least they let you feel the collective pulse of the community. One good thing about them, however, is that they don’t have those puffed and padded think tank Arabists and academics with books to peddle, which you see on Al-Jazeera and CNN.
At a national day reception, I met a Karachi businessman who doubles as an honorary consul general of a country the size of North Nazimabad. He wanted to know why Pakistani journalists always wrote such depressing articles about our country. “Things have never been better”, he said in an accent with obvious transatlantic plastic voice surgery fortified by the recent addition of a PhD acquired for 60 quid from a dubious British source. “Did you know my business showed a 70 per cent growth? Next year we hope to do a hundred per cent?” Now how does a chap who was once a hard core Bolshie from the LSE, weaned on the rule of law, react to a statement like this?
The public has a right to know what is happening. The media reports events how and when they occur and reproduces the visionary remarks of the leaders. Most of the stories that come down the pike, hinge on things to which the public has become accustomed to and to which it has become immune. Sectarian killings, gang and turf warfare, acid throwing, the execution of women on the orders of panchayats and jirgas, corruption in high places, defiance of the judiciary, cheating at examinations and the beating up of teachers who catch them and hold-ups in broad daylight while dozens of police mobiles, their sirens bleating incessantly, are guarding the freeloaders in the Sindh Assembly.
In some stories, the sentences come with exclamation marks. Like the one about six girls being shot and buried alive and the minister from Balochistan saying “This is an internal matter. Don’t interfere in our customs”. Or the comment about fake documents, a classic example of ministerial enlightenment — “So what’s the difference? A degree is a degree”. Let’s face it. The people of Pakistan are not going to get a Lee Kwan Yew, a Mustafa Kamal or a General Ne Win. We are going to continue to be governed by yahoos who have been tarred with the same brush for over 50 years, politicians who care only about themselves and not the country. And now thanks to Mr Gilani, the dollar should hit 100 rupees by the time of the monsoon. Great news for the exporters. Unfortunately, most of them don’t have any electricity.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2012.
More in OpinionThe ‘academising’ of literature