Angling — the means or an end?

What kindled interest is the apprehension that we in the Land of the Pure are on our way to become a nation of anglers

Khalid Saleem July 17, 2017
The writer is a former ambassador and former assistant secretary general of OIC

The political uncertainty prevailing in our country is causing several eyebrows to be raised. As things get increasingly murkier by the day, one is tempted to talk about angling of all things; for cogent reasons, mind you, that one shall allude to in due course.

Firstly, how about a thing or two about the ‘sport’ known as angling! Angling has evoked extreme reactions in people over the ages. The great Samuel Johnson, for one, defined the fishing rod as “a stick with a hook at one end and a fool at the other”. Izzak Walton, on the other extreme, averred, “God never did make a more calm, quiet and innocent recreation than angling.” Somewhere down the middle would figure George Parker’s definition of angling as “an innocent cruelty.”

What kindled one’s interest in the affair is the apprehension that we in the Land of the Pure are well on our way to becoming a nation of anglers. A horrifying thought that may be, it is not as far-fetched as the reader may be inclined to think. A word of explanation may be in order. In a wider sense, our people take to angling like fish to water. For all one knows, this may well have something to do with the “genius of our people”.

May one draw the attention of the perspicacious reader to ‘breaking news’ items proliferating in the national media relating to the return home from another “successful” visit abroad of a (prodigal?) dignitary? Most high-ups have made it a habit of undertaking a series of official visits abroad such that it makes one wonder how they manage to squeeze in a few days to do whatever it is that they are supposed to do while holding positions of authority. Angling for invitations to undertake foreign trips has become the preferred national pastime.

Rather than the means to an end, the “foreign tour” appears to have become an end in itself. It matters little if the work suffers or even that the tour in question defeats the very purpose it is supposed to accomplish. The “foreign tour” remains, without question, a consummation devoutly wished by our public and bureaucratic figures.

If the aforesaid has conveyed the impression that angling for foreign trips is the only priority of our elites; banish the thought! Love of angling has permeated all fields. Angling for postings, permits and plots, to mention just a few, make up the mainstay of our political and administrative edifices. Gone are the days when service to God, country and the nation constituted the declared ambition of at least some of our “public servants”. Now each one angles for what he or she can to get out of it. The concern is not for what one can do for the country, but what one can do to the country and get away with.

Our “public servants” spend a good part of their time and effort angling for greener pastures where pickings are good. Those miserable few, who continue to hold on to the tattered shreds of principles they hold dear, are hounded from pillar to post until they or their principles give up the ghost, whichever comes first. It is a matter of some pity that those whose voices are the loudest in denunciation of such practices are also those on the frontline encouraging this regrettable trend.

Our elders and betters keep themselves busy fishing in ‘troubled waters’, when they should be pouring oil on them. Some may argue that this is what troubled waters are meant for, but then who makes the waters “troubled” in the first place? Angling, in the Pakistan-style, spawns in a milieu in which established institutions are conspicuous by their absence. Ad hocism, that has permeated the system of the body politic is gnawing away at the very vitals of the state. It may be worthwhile for future powers to spare a thought for this malaise before it is too late.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2017.

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