Lop-sided in la-la land

Amina Jilani May 28, 2010

Has it been events that have made this nation what it is, or is it the individuals who have made up the various leaderships? Whatever, events over the past couple of decades have thrown up men and women who have shown a remarkable determination to do their worst for the country whilst bolstering up their own power houses and pockets, and who have possessed a highly honed knack of picking up the most despicable sycophants to do their bidding and often to tender to them the worst possible advice.

Present-day Pakistan starts at the end of 1971, with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who heeded no one, godfather of the party now in power who is surely spinning in his grave with fury at what it has been brought to. His determination cost him his life – and the same with his successor Ziaul Haq who landed the country in a right royal mess which 22 years down the line has this country literally at war with itself. The yo-yoing governments of the 1990s do not bear thinking about — particularly Nawaz Sharif’s moment of madness when he handed over Pakistan on a proverbial silver platter to his army chief.

The Pervez Musharraf years are remarkable for what the man could have done with the powers that he had, but failed to do, for his woeful choice of manpower, for his monumental blunders, and, most of all, for bringing in the most wicked and unlawful bit of legislation, the NRO.

What is most amusing with this present dispensation is the leadership’s loud wailing ‘demands’ for Musharraf to be brought back to answer for the NRO. Do the main wailers not realise that without the NRO they would not be where they are? They should be down on their knees, showering Musharraf (and of course the US) with gratitude for having shown them the way.

This week has been a bit flat as far as the media is concerned. There it was, gearing itself up for yet another man-made crisis involving government versus judiciary. And what happened? Well, amazingly, sense prevailed. But sense did not prevail as far as the banning of the internet sites is concerned. Have any of the banners ever asked themselves why Pakistan is the only Muslim nation to have reacted in this manner to the contentious cartoons? Have they not bothered to consider that in this nation of pious and God-fearing Muslims not one would have visited the cartoon site? Do they not trust the faithful? Must they, like all governments before them, pander to the extremists of the religious right and a noisy rowdy minority of empty heads that burn tyres and effigies but would not know the difference between Facebook and their calloused elbows?

The government has reacted exactly as the world expected — played into the hands of all who deride the senseless extremism for which we are so well known. ‘Good-bye Facebook, Hello Seventh Century’ read a May 20 Christian Science Monitor headline. And as a travelling friend pointed out on sale at Karachi airport is a book by Philip Pullman with a title which would not be looked too kindly on by followers of Jesus. That seems to worry no one, as our extremists are obviously averse to bookshops.

The ban also possibly gives a boost to the Taliban lot who love banning — they ban women from jobs, they ban all forms of public recreation such as music, theatre, cinema, dancing, fashion shows. Their form of entertainment is public beheadings, shootings and the cutting off of hands. And there are a growing number of good Muslim citizens inclined towards piety who might say that they are the lesser of two evils — that they are one up on the members of this present government who are widely despised for their determination to turn governance into a machinery for personal power and profit.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 29th, 2010.

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