Lust for life

On Independence Day, nation will yearn for the country that Quaid visualised before vultures ripped into its flesh.

Fahd Husain July 19, 2014

When the roaring waves of PTI’s tsunami crash on to the political shores of Islamabad on Independence Day, much could go wrong — or right.

Known questions are chasing unknown answers like hounds after a rabbit. Uncertainty and dread are raining down as the system braces for another mega-shock. Constant turbulence is back yet again to haunt the jinns of democracy.

But wait. Turbulence should not be a natural state of being — a default mode screen saver — for a nation thirsting for a semblance of order. Something, somewhere is out of joint. And it is not hard to fathom.

Lust for power may explain this constant state of turbulence, but not fully. There is something else there too; some X factor that is forcing people to come out and shout aloud; some force, or sentiment, or emotion that is propelling them into action. In their eyes, there is a hunger. But for what?

Look around you. Look at your life. Look at the people around you. Look at all that you see is wrong and unjust. Do you feel angry, frustrated, depressed, and helpless? Do you feel marginalised, waylaid and voiceless? Do you feel exploited, manipulated and repressed? Yes, there is enough emotion to move mountains.

Emotions, however, do not fully translate into specific political demands. They drive movements, but they rarely shape policy. The hunger for a better life may not mean bringing down the government but it does mean a refusal to accept life as it exists now. It does mean a rejection of the status quo that blurs the line between right and wrong. It does mean a validation of the basic premise of democracy and social contract: rulers rule so citizens prosper. And it certainly — in fact definitely — means the willingness, readiness and eagerness for a struggle to win the life so richly deserved.

Turbulence is made of this stuff. It is such stuff that lights a spark and triggers an avalanche. For it taps into a deep yearning for human dignity; a dignity that is violated every day in every corner of our country. This is how we live in Pakistan. This is how our parents and their parents lived here — under dark shadows of injustice and inequality, incapable or unwilling to grab the rulers by their throats and force them to ensure the provision of the citizens’ fundamental and inalienable natural-born rights. Decades have passed by, and we continue to suffer a system where men are not equal before law; where the poor and marginalised are left to die; where the weak are tortured in police stations while the strong rape the law. We continue to suffer a system where justice is for the moneyed and the privileged, where power is for those who can afford it, and merit is for those who can buy it. It is in this system that cartels flourish, where leaders are in the business of politics, and money is made on the backs of children deprived of education, health, clean water and a basic right to a happy life.

And the rule of law? Yes what of this rule of law that forms the bedrock of modern societies? This rule of law is the foundation of our Constitution and our entire justice system but is mocked every time a powerful man or woman breaks it and gets away with it. The lawyers turned out in their thousands a few years ago to demand this rule of law. They transformed their passion into a movement, and this movement unleashed the deep desire within each of us to reform our society by adhering strictly to the rule of law. The movement restored the deposed chief justice, but it could not ensure the rule of law. In fact, the lawyers drowned in their own irony when they hoisted themselves above the law. The revolution does indeed eat its own children.

On Independence Day this year, the nation will yearn for the country that the Quaid visualised before the vultures ripped into its flesh and tore it apart. Imran Khan may want an audit of elections or even mid-term polls, but these political bullet-points do not even scratch the surface of the rot that we live in. Bombing a ruin will only shift the rubble. It is rebuilding that is needed.

No sir, Metro bus is not rebuilding. No, flyovers are not rebuilding. Neither are underpasses, laptops or bullet trains. This is like curing a sick person by buying him an Armani suit. Rebuilding starts from a very simple but powerful concept: Right versus Wrong. Yes, this is a moral equation, but it is also the root of every law. If law is supreme, Right reigns over Wrong. See, that’s not too complicated now.

This emotion is then what drives people to challenge their rulers. And they do so when they have had enough of hypocrisy, lying and cheating; when they’ve had enough of state brutality and injustice; when they’ve seen too many powerful people get away with murder while the weak rot in cells. They do so when they’ve had enough of exploitation, suppression and abuse; when they’ve had enough of injustice being thrust down their throats in the name of law.

Have we had enough? The moment will come.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.