Mike Mullen, the new CIA chief, recently made a very damaging remark and its intention couldn’t have been more obvious — to hit at the foundations of the only solid citadel in Pakistan, the ISI. It seems as if the Yankees are pointing their Star Wars-type weapons on Rawalpindi, while the population is hankering for some answers. As if playing to a well-scripted opera, the top brass of both America and Pakistan made sudden dashes to Washington and Islamabad, pretending that things are now going to get better. But the question remains that will that happen? Will one trip of the ISI chief to America bring the relationship back to what it was?
In the midst of all of this, it seems as if the man on top of the hill in Islamabad isn’t too bothered by all these happenings. Perhaps he is busy ensuring that no dirt gets splashed on him. As for the prime minister, he has been making statements of late which suggest that his government is interested in getting ties back with the US to what they were — but it is unclear who would take what he says seriously.
As for the city’s financial and commercial capital of Karachi, it is hostage to desperadoes and burning more often than not. And what does the centre do? It sends the interior minister who more often than not puts his foot in his mouth. Police morale is at its lowest ebb while the Rangers, financed by the hapless Sindh government, are nowhere to be seen. Law and order is next to non-existent and this has created immense despondency and dejection in the city’s business community. The situation is so bad that many do not even look forward to opening their shops and offices. Many have to face extortionists whom the law is unable to touch and in such a situation, which businessman is going to say ‘no’ to them? ‘Chits’ are still being sent by the extortionists, demanding protection money — on these ‘chits’ names, addresses and telephone numbers of recipients are listed.
To make matters worse, ongoing problems with the city’s power utility, KESC, seem to be never-ending and it is unable to resolve its quarrel with its laid-off workers. In short, Karachi has become a miserable victim of the turf war of land grabbers, gun-runners and drug mafia under the patronage of ethno-political parties and groups, with periodic target killings — the latter beginning and ending as if on cue. When things start settling down, an insensible senior member of the Sindh cabinet utters some insensitive remarks, ensuring that all hell breaks loose.
The rich are talking to immigration lawyers while the poor are contemplating ways to feed the hungry at home. Yes, this may sound like D-Day but only for those people who don’t want to see Pakistan survive. This kind of vicious and negative thinking can be thwarted if all Pakistanis decide to unite for a change. The citizens must pull the rug from under those who cannot bear the very thought of a developing nation armed with a nuclear arsenal. The question is, is this possible?
Revolutionary poet Habib Jalib was one of those who attempted to ignite this fire of patriotism and hope when he said: Utahain lakh deewarain tulooh mehr tau hoga/Yeh shab kay paasban kub tak na hum ko raasta dain ge.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2011.