It is not understandable whether their relationship with starvation and suffering is justified or unjustified and whether it is momentary or enduring. Unfortunately, the so-called custodians, instead of taking care of their hardships, seem to be supporting those hell-bent on burying them alive. In their bid to obtain absolute power, they have become oblivious to the mojo, which keeps a country surviving and thriving, and that is to deliver to the majority a fair life; a role in its affairs.
Nevertheless, despite this, if the situation turns vice versa, the existence of the state would be impossible practically. Once a disciple of Confucius asked him what a country needs for its survival and progress. Confucius listed three fundamentals in the context: strong army; self-sufficiency in food commodities; and people’s unity and prosperity.
The inquisitive disciple continued: “If the mentioned conditions are not obtained simultaneously, then?” Confucius added: “No matter if the country has a weak army; the people, who are its defenders, would save it from the invasion of enemies.” When the relentless disciple had not had enough of his endless curiosity and asked the great thinker to name one of the remaining two for the keeping of a country, he had to respond: “If there arises scarcity of foodstuffs, due to famine, or other reasons, the people would overcome it somehow; but a country would certainly be ruined if its people are living a life without unity and prosperity.” This means, as per Confucius, the state ought to be founded on the principle of people’s welfare and representation.
Subscribing to the immortal words, Roman philosopher Thomas Aquinas centuries later underscored “the vision and consequent basis of state for attending to the instinctive urge of being looked after by a decisive force against the potential challenges”. Thus, the definitive state, on the back of centuries-long fantasies of inventive minds, became a reality in the West which, by all means, was a revolutionary jump from the divisive feudalism to the quasi-democratic system, taking people from the age of confusion and darkness to the advent of enlightenment. Following the paradigm evolution of life in the West, people’s understanding of life broadened; and they wholeheartedly reposed confidence only in their elected representatives who would eventually give credence to the state by establishing organs for people, soliciting its support against the usurpers and lawbreakers in the society.
Unlike Western societies, ours has been attached to the dynasties, assigning primacy to their offspring rather than people. As a consequence of this, our resource-rich country has been bogged down in the cesspool of politics from where it had commenced its journey after breaking the fear of the upcoming majoritarian rule of the intolerant Hindu. But despite resolve, we could not become a nation owing to the peddling of the self-interest of the ruling classes. And the dreamland got dismembered; unfortunately, even after that, the feelings of failure have been missing among those who matter the most. It should be eye-opening for our dominant forces that the seceded part of us (Bangladesh) has gone far ahead of us in terms of economic development. On the other hand, Pakistan, once a role model for South Asian countries, is on the brink of collapse. Is not it a painful scene for people who crossed the river of blood for its independence and worked hard for its prosperity?
It is unfortunate that despite the impending existential crisis, the people, who are supposed to call the shots, are not only oblivious to it but seem to be adding fuel, perhaps letting it become uncontrollable because it would make them indispensable in the eyes of the world for steering the state out of it. However, what may come from them would be in their elitist way of governance: selective dispensation of justice. Moreover, in their rule, except for the drummers, the disadvantaged classes have had no stakes and participation, but they cast their votes for them in elections for which the pressure from the local administration is applied invariably.
Accordingly, in Pakistan, the state which ought to have played the role of sole arbiter for the resourceless people has become a tool in the hands of the powerful oppressive elites who know methods for keeping its class interest thriving adequately; and is victor every time. Sadly, in our game of thrones, the superpowers that vow to support the muted voices in the beleaguered societies of the world are on the side of the perpetual oppressors and dictatorial regimes for their strategic interests. As a result, the life of the majority of the people has not changed a bit in our country after the independence, as had not of Mungo Coachman (a character in Manto’s Naya Qanoon) after the proclamation of a new law during the British Raj.
So, believably for us whatever is set by our ruling elites is the same fierce whip our British masters used at the back of our forefathers, upon asking questions. Strangely, this time, in our case, our own people are whipping us, as our colonial masters used to do at a little murmuring. So, if our people at the top want forthright capitulation from people on the road, they should break-open the bubble the colonial masters had entrusted them with at the time of their departure. It is pertinent to quote here Jerry Bentham, one of the great reformers of England, who wrote a letter to his friend before the reforms bill passed in 1831. He counseled his friend and the parliament: “We shall have to make others life comfortable if we want one for ourselves. And for it, we should love people truly”.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2022.
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