Independence Day blues

Published: August 14, 2010
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amina.jilani@tribune.com.pk

amina.jilani@tribune.com.pk

Independence Day 1947, 63 years ago, was fraught with violent birth-pangs, death and destruction.  So it was in the beginning and here we are today beset by violence, and by death and destruction, having along the way willfully shed half the country.

But that day in 1947 was different — hope there was in bundles. Today, hope has fled. Since 1948, all who have ruled, have contributed through their greed, corru ption and incompetence to the Pakistan which now stands tottering. Mass disregard for the environment — illegal and cruel deforestation, haphazard substandard development, and decades of provincial wrangling over the necessity of dams have ably aided the forces of nature, thus the present result of the massive floods is the death of some 2,000 people and the displacement and misery of an unknown number, as figures vary between six to 15 million.

So what is there to celebrate?  Tonight the roads of our cities and towns will be infested by flag-waving mindless youths on silencer-less motorbikes, tearing up and down, ‘celebrating’ they really not know what. Equally mindless messages of congratulations to the nation (for having against all odds managed to exist?) are issued by the spokespersons of this government which has admitted that the flood situation is way beyond its control.

Donors sought for the empty national coffers, both national and international suffer from fatigue — Pakistan is forever, even at the best of times, begging for money, money which is given and just disappears into a variety of national pockets. The people of Pakistan do not trust their rag-tag government and the world, which is more knowledgeable, trusts it even less.

In 1947, we had a head of state who relinquished his status as head of his political party, today we have a head of state who lords it over a government largely made up of constitutionally unsuitable individuals who would be hard pushed to manage a village well hand pump, let alone a country, merely because he heads his own political party from which his so-called power flows.  The head of state has just proved to be a total PR disaster at home and abroad — at home his presence has no relevance to the betterment of any situation, so he might as well move his HQ to Vanuatu. What is most disturbing about him is the grin which, like the Cheshire cat, seems to have a life of its own, and is totally and always misplaced.

Once again, the country finds itself with a government that is subservient to its army, and deservedly so the army has redeemed itself as the only institution of the country which actually delivers.  And this under a chief who has come to us as part of the old 2007 ‘deal’ drawn up by a down and out Pervez Musharraf and his American and European allies, a deal which by default also delivered unto us our head of state.  It was done, and it has held — for how long it will hold is an unknown quantity.

Terrorism has not abated with the floods, it continues on its own merry way, helped along by the government’s helplessness and irresponsibility. The army cannot entirely shed its old Taliban ties, quite naturally, and we have talk of talks with the ‘good’ Taliban, who just a few days ago in an Afghan province publicly flogged a 48-year-old pregnant woman 200 times and then shot her, and last week murdered eight foreign and two Afghan members of a medical assistance team who were providing care to their compatriots.

So all in all, quite frankly, what is there to celebrate?  Independence?  Has this country, with its begging-bowl, ever truly known it?

Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • rehan
    Aug 14, 2010 - 12:17PM

    //hope there was in bundles//….how can you say for sure?The masses have always been manipulated by the politicians.Ask those who saw their dear ones being looted,killed and raped in front of their eyes 63yrs ago and whether they felt any ‘hope’at that moment?No.A victim has always been a victim of despair.The ray of hope is this…if anyone felt any hope then ,it was out of faith in God.And that too will be the case today for many I guess.If hope is to be ‘born’ in us by gauging from ground realities..then I fear that that is an old obsolete touchstone..with only one outcome..DESPAIR.Recommend

  • Aug 14, 2010 - 1:05PM

    amina:

    after six decades
    an atomic begging bowl

    and look at others
    korea, malaysia,
    china, even
    puny singapore, dubai…..Recommend

  • Omer Soomro
    Aug 14, 2010 - 2:38PM

    Dear Amina,

    We are at the precipice of a great disaster..I speak midst all the misery in the flooded areas of Shikarpur. Instead of breaching the Indus at Ali Wahan, (which is where it was breached in 1976 by Bhutto) to divert the water through the dry plains of government land downstream to Kotri and the sea, the water has been diverted to Sukkur, Shikarpur and Jacobabad Districts. WHY? Because Syed Khurshid Shah (Minister in the Federal Cabinet) advised aginst it. WHY? Because, in collusion with the Revenuue and Irrigation Departments, he has cultivated government owned over the past decade or so and didn’t want the super flood to ruin his crops and land. He moved a thousand or so people in the area to create pressure and a “law and order situation”

    This is a cruel joke on the people of Sindh. It’s an open secret. Ask any agriculturist and he will not disagree.

    We have no business asking for aid before taking him to task.

    Regards,
    Omer SoomroRecommend

  • AA
    Aug 14, 2010 - 7:02PM

    I generally agree with you, but let’s not over-glorify the army at the cost of everything else. After all the money and resources the army is spending on rescue efforts is also coming from the same source — you and me. Recommend

  • Marjan
    Aug 14, 2010 - 7:39PM

    @Rehan,creation of Pakistan was announced in June 1947.The massacre and killings in August resulted because of infighting between Punjabi Sikhs,Punjabi Muslims and Punjabi Hindus.It had nothing to do with Pakistan Movement as the state had already been created.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Aug 14, 2010 - 8:27PM

    The question for most Pakistanis to ask is on this day- Was Pakistan created for the right reasons? Look at how a Secular Bangladesh is doing and how Islamic Pakistan is doing. One is among the fastest growing in South Asia, another is barely growing at all. Recommend

  • rehan
    Aug 14, 2010 - 10:16PM

    @Marjan.So what exactly do you want to say?Recommend

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