According to the tribal wisdom of the ancient Plains Indians of America, “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount”.
And according to one wit of modern times, when governments finally realise they are mounted on a dead horse they adopt more advanced strategies. In their modern wisdom, they resort to measures such as: buying a stronger whip, changing riders, appointing a committee to study the horse, lowering standards so that dead horses can be included, hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse, harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed, visiting other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses, providing additional funding to increase the dead horse’s performance, declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed it is less costly, carries lower overheads and, therefore, contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than other horses. They also resort to rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses and, of course, promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
So much for governments. Now for what is supposed to be governed but is in fact ungoverned. In the case of Pakistan, it could be said that the nation has been astride a dead horse for decades of its life, the majority of its citizens being fully aware of the fact but seemingly willing to not only to continue to remain astride but to ignore the horse’s steady decomposition and stench of decaying flesh.
This fully illustrates the fact that elections alone do not make a democracy nor do they provide governance, and the state of Pakistan is a prime example. The nation has adopted a few strategies to counter its predicament but when the occasion arises and it is given the choice of selecting those it wishes to represent it in its government it has, time and time again, chosen to opt for dead horses. Even when bereft of choice, with leadership or dictatorship — whatever one wishes to call it — thrust upon it, the nation has happily acquiesced to a man on horseback until circumstances, external as well as internal, have forced a change of dead horses, from one colour to another, from one breed to another.
Right now, some say that the condition of the dead horse has rarely been in such a deplorable state. The government is more than static, doing only what it needs to do to keep itself in a position to be able to continue to loot and plunder whatever is left in the depleted kitty. The nation keeps itself mounted, watching, whilst the various body parts of the dead horse — from president to prime minister to judiciary, and on to such bodies as the ministries of national harmony, national regulation and interfaith harmony — all ensure that harmony is, in the republic, a far cry.
Barbaric massacres of citizens of a minority sect, the Shias, continue from north to south, unchecked and seemingly unstoppable, making a mockery of the law-enforcement agencies and even of the mighty military which merely keeps its distance when it comes to such matters.
Laws completely in contradiction to interfaith harmony flourish, protected by the state, under which citizens of all sects and faiths are murdered at will or made to suffer deprivation, pain and humiliation.
Occasionally, very occasionally, there has been a bright spark that has unexpectedly cropped up as has happened in these past days. A brave member of the clerical brotherhood, Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, has spoken up and publicly revealed just how the blasphemy laws are used in greed and to grab property. Now that the honest cleric has spoken up and the world has reacted in horror, will a government, any government, manage to rake up as much guts and courage as the good Hafiz and act to deal with these laws as they should be dealt with?
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2012.