Shuffle the rubble

Published: October 26, 2014
The writer is Director News, Express News. He tweets 

The writer is Director News, Express News. He tweets @fahdhusain

The prime minister believes his dharna troubles are over. The prime minister smiles. And exhales. The prime minister then thinks perhaps, there’s a bit of a problem with governance. The prime minister looks around to see where. The prime minister then decides to crack the whip on his cabinet and lacerate a few silky smooth ministerial backs.

The answer to our governance woes?

In December 2001, the famed author Arundhati Roy wrote a blistering piece on the US invasion of Afghanistan. She asked: “The question is, can you destroy destruction? Dropping more bombs on Afghanistan will only shuffle the rubble, scramble some old graves, and disturb the dead.”

If the prime minister’s solution to all problems is reshuffling his cabinet, then he may just be shuffling the rubble and disturbing the dead.

Afghanistan may have been bombed to rubble, but Pakistan has been governed into ruins. Ruler after ruler ravaged and pillaged this land, gnawing and clawing at its flesh till there was nothing left but bare bones. This is why there is now a wave of revulsion against all those who exercise authority by wearing the rotting garland of mandate. Yes, revulsion at the sheer audacity by which the mandated ones elevate themselves beyond the reach of law; revulsion at the nauseating arrogance of power that seeps out of them like blood out of an infected wound; and revulsion — pure naked revulsion — at their mentality that treats citizens as children of a lesser god.

Mandate is not a four-letter word, but it sure sounds like one now. What is this mandate, a carte blanche to do what you please, when you please, how you please? Is this a mandate to worship the status quo; a mandate to inject greater inertia in governance; a mandate to protect, preserve and promote lethargy across all institutions of the government?

The PML-N has been whipped, lashed and clobbered by the Khan-Qadri combine till it is a shadow of itself. But it has survived. Like it should have. An elected government must be brought down constitutionally, not slaughtered on D Chowk like Dr Tahirul Qadri’s camel. No, that would spell disaster for whatever weak and doddering system we have. Slaughter is not the answer.

But neither is the total lack of governance that this government has exemplified since May last. We thought the last PPP government was incompetent; but these guys are bent on proving us wrong. If you are given the crown for the third time, you just do not muck it up. No, you improve, you learn, you innovate, you lead. You don’t just tell the world, ‘Sometimes I sits and I thinks. And sometimes I just sits.’

Improving governance first requires an understanding of what needs to be set right. You cannot build a new structure if the extent of your plan is to shuffle the rubble. Pakistan needs serious and intensive care. Pakistan needs deep internal reform. But most importantly, Pakistan needs someone who can visualise a future that goes beyond planes, trains and automobiles; someone who is deeply and intimately aware of the dynamics that propelled medieval societies into modern ones. Yes, let there be no doubt that true leadership is an exercise in loneliness because at the end of it all, one man has to make the call. One man.

This one man must then be able to lead first with a vision, and then with action. The rest follow.

A former president of the US, Theodore Roosevelt, said at a speech in Paris on April 23, 1910: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

So Mr Prime Minister, shuffle your cabinet — but first, shuffle your priorities.

Your priorities in turn, are a reflection of your vision. Yes, that vision thing. Prime Minister, dare to dream of a future where Pakistan is recognised for its human talent; not its concrete structures. Dare to dream of a future where every single Pakistani child is in school; where every single citizen is equal before law; where every single penny of taxpayers’ money is accounted for. Prime Minister, dare to dream of a Pakistan where the state does not hunt its own citizens; where governments do not spend on themselves; where what you know is so much more important than who you know. Can you dream this dream? Can you live this dream? Can you make this dream?

Every citizen tortured by the police is a harsh reminder of an absence of vision. Every child dying of malnutrition is a harsh reminder of an absence of vision. And every time a woman is persecuted, a minority member is crucified; every time a powerful person gets away with raping the law, and justice is denied to the deserving — every time this happens, it is a harsh reminder of a serious, acute and aching absence of vision.

Our problems are deep. Our wounds are deeper. They will not heal with band aids. Or aspirin. This society has been brought to decay by those who were mandated to make it prosper. They were midgets. They thought small, and dreamt smaller. Pakistan today is screaming for reform. A cabinet reshuffle is not reform. A shuffle of the rubble will still keep us in a state of ruin. The prime minister is relieved the pressure at D chowk is evaporating. But if he puts his ear to the ground, he will hear the red, hot lava of discontent growling menacingly under the surface. All it needs is one small crack.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (34)

  • Dean
    Oct 26, 2014 - 1:05AM

    This rubble has been shuffling, recycling re incarnating for 67 years now. There needs to be a break, a change of course or it will be on and on and on forever.


  • Oct 26, 2014 - 1:17AM

    The pudgy man does not have any vision. He is not a leader. Not a statesman..
    Just an ordinary third class politician who was plucked, adopted and chosen to be
    Zia ul Haq’s portege. Maybe the vapidness is what prompted Zia the Hun to select
    him in the first place. Would be easy to mold, in any desired configuration. There is
    a double whammy here. A dour sour looking countenance is not an asset either.
    Relying on advice from sycophants and close imbecilic family members, the Epitome
    of Blunder has not been able to do anything. Let alone lead a country. Nawaz is a
    confused sack of ineptitude, a vacuous Mother of all Indecision. No, the man has to go.
    Enough is enough. The people are slowly recovering, from Under Heel Syndrome.


  • Sarah Rehman
    Oct 26, 2014 - 1:42AM

    Yes, all it needs is one small crack and the lava that would ooze out would burn the entire corrupt system to its bones. For now this nation, has stood up for its rights.


  • bilal
    Oct 26, 2014 - 3:30AM

    well said


  • PS
    Oct 26, 2014 - 4:24AM

    The day of reckoning for the corrupt leadership of PMLN and PPP is fast approaching. The masses of this blighted nation have finally woken up to fraud perpetuated upon them in the name of democracy and mandate. They are in no mood to take it any more


  • Asad
    Oct 26, 2014 - 4:44AM

    Wahh u a beauty Fahad.. Wish if intellect like u govern this country as well!


  • Anser Zaid
    Oct 26, 2014 - 6:41AM

    If you had to summarize Fahd’s brilliant, searing indictment in three words, they would be:
    “GO NAWAZ GO”!


  • John
    Oct 26, 2014 - 8:21AM

    Its not that N.S wouldnt like the country improving its over all economic and social outlook,this is simply out of his intellectual ability.He just doesent know what he has to do to invest in human resources and not concrete structures.When he wants to do something,he builds you another bridge or a fly over and then the whioe canbinet gets together to celebetate as if the undoable has been done.
    There is an urdu saying that goes like “Aap khachar sey Ghora Maang rahay hain”


  • Masood
    Oct 26, 2014 - 8:22AM

    An excellent article – but alas addressed to a wrong person.
    Fahad’s article is a concise tutorial on leadership, but his philosophical ideas may be a challenge to comprehend by our previous, or the existing rulers occupying the throne. These ideas require a higher intellect and personal traits than just knowing how to apply MUKMUKA or MUFAHIMAT politics.
    Leaders are born and not accidentally made. What Fahad says and quotes all applies to leaders. Unfortunately, we have been recently endowed with accidental rulers and NOT true leaders.
    Once people have made the decision to come out and go along with the right leadership, it will be an end the miseries of this nation.


  • Khurram
    Oct 26, 2014 - 8:39AM

    Absolutely fabolous article Mr. Fahd Husain!


  • Imtiaz Cheema
    Oct 26, 2014 - 8:43AM

    Bravo. Another gem of a piece.


  • U Jan
    Oct 26, 2014 - 9:05AM

    Great article: “But if he puts his ear to the ground, he will hear the red, hot lava of discontent growling menacingly under the surface. All it needs is one small crack.”

    The change us inevitable!!


  • Sajjad Ashraf
    Oct 26, 2014 - 9:36AM

    Excellent expose and with so much passion…


  • Yusuf
    Oct 26, 2014 - 9:47AM

    Lets complicate more, its about complication not reform. Must be a luxurious seat so one think deeper sitting. Yar, Kiya Mazak Hai.


  • Humair Khan
    Oct 26, 2014 - 10:27AM

    Thanks Fahad for showing mirror – Years of Injustice & Inequality is coming over now to near end – Hope Mr. Nawaz understands that Education is more important than Buses – If we don’t educate these 5.5 million kids out of schools- Brace yourself for next generation of suicide bombers that will burn all of us into mayhem. If we invest on them – We can be next Singapore.


  • wonderer
    Oct 26, 2014 - 11:09AM

    Well-said Sir!

    The point stands proven beyond any doubt. I too shall join in to shout Go Nawaz, Go!

    But, I cannot avoid wondering and asking, After Nawaz Who?

    I do not have the answer. Does Fahd Husain or anyone else?Recommend

  • Ali S
    Oct 26, 2014 - 11:51AM

    While the last PPP govt was a model of incompetence and laid a big nail in the party’s coffin, at least Zardari’s cabinet had the humility and resolve to sit down and listen to whatever problems other leaders (civilian or military) presented. Nawaz and Co. think they’re above that – their definition of a ‘fair mandate’ is a fiefdom over which they have a free pass to loot, plunder, share among themselves and get away with.

    I’m no fan of the cricketer or TuQ, who both have their fair share of issues, but kudos to them for sending the message clearly that such kingly arrogance will not be tolerated. It seems to have reached Nawaz, but he still doesn’t seem to know how to get with it.Recommend

  • Muneer
    Oct 26, 2014 - 11:57AM

    The pressure at D chowk is not really evaporating and could re-exert with much greater force in near future. The hot lava of discontent is now spreading all over the country.The crack you have talked about could still occur at the D Chowk. Perhaps, there is a change in the strategy of the combine of PTI and PAT.Watch out for the return of PAT and re-combination of Khan- Qadri at the venue.


  • Faraz Ahmed
    Oct 26, 2014 - 1:30PM

    Another masterpiece.

    It is a simple case of govt for the people by the people.


  • nadeem
    Oct 26, 2014 - 1:41PM

    where every single citizen is equal before law;

    In other words, generals and politicians when caught breaking the law are prosecuted just as vigorously as the common man is. Right?


  • Parvez
    Oct 26, 2014 - 2:35PM

    Out of many who are writing on the subject… Sir are decidedly the one with his fingers on the pulse, for you have over the last many weeks spelt it out clearly and forcefully.
    The one point that is missing is the sense of sheer apathy being displayed by our leaders, possibly because their exit strategies are in place, their children all foreign nationals and their wealth safe overseas…….but will that save them, is a moot point.


  • Kamran
    Oct 26, 2014 - 3:13PM

    Brilliantly written Fahd! Even if Dharnas end today, they have achieved a great deal already. They have ignited the idea and Ideas are bulletproof.


  • Xman
    Oct 26, 2014 - 5:00PM

    By author”s account it takes One Man? Yea right, so dont shuffle the rubble, instead persue “one man” whose politics and “dream” of naya Pakistan is nothing but a bubble.


  • ishrat salim
    Oct 26, 2014 - 5:41PM

    Thank you Mr Fahad. Brilliant article like many of your past ones. What Mr Fahad means, it is lull before a storm & rumbling akin to a earthquake. Status quo parties will be insha Allah swept away soon.


  • Naeem Khan
    Oct 26, 2014 - 7:29PM

    I re-read your article and it brought tears of joy because I am so proud of Pakistanis like your self who are standing up and be counted and there is no doubt that it will take one person to change every thing for the best. Sitting so far away from home but could see that people are awakening specially the young generation and the change is on the horizon, we should be patient and work with in the bounds of constitution and laws. It seems K-P government is heading in the right direction by educating it’s masses despite some corrupt elements still lurking around in the government. Education is the key for our success and investment in human resources today will give dividend in the future. I always say and think that Pakistanis are intelligent and hard working people and could compete with any one on this earth if GIVEN THE CHANCE AND PROPER EDUCATION. Great article, enjoyed reading it.


  • Oct 26, 2014 - 11:02PM

    @Naeem Khan: Any thing achieved by wrong means even though with good intentions by one or group is bound to derail from the declared path because of its supporters. unless a system is developed with checks and balances corruption will continue while its degree may vary .


  • Hedgefunder
    Oct 27, 2014 - 12:12AM

    Unfortunately, the People of this Land of Pure have really lost the plot, as they have decided to live in cocoon and have created a mindset, that everything that happens to them is conspiracy by others, hence a society of delusional people permanently on their illusions as to their self importance, because they have the Bomb !
    Just who elects this leaders, who habitually mismanage and steal to their heart’s whim !
    It is these very people who choose them again and again, so why blame the fools in charge, blame the society, which elects these crooks !


  • Aamna H. Fasihi
    Oct 27, 2014 - 12:34AM

    Sometimes I sits and thinks why genius like Fahd Hussain is just a columnist and a sheer idiot our PM. Nawaz may be more intent at prospering Pakistan than Zardari and Co. but still his priorities are absurd, vision limited and wisdom next to none.

    Eloquent piece! However, I disagree that hot lava of discontent still needs the crack. That hot lava has already found a crack on 14th Aug 2014. We’re lucky it’s just oozing bit by bit at the moment but it will surely cause massive havoc any day. I just hope God blesses PM with a bit of vision and intellect before that day comes.


  • Nabeel Nawaz
    Oct 27, 2014 - 10:38AM

    Excellent piece – shuffle the rubble indeed. But I believe you scratch the surface on the most fundamental point. Firstly do you think NS has the wherewithal and capacity to make the key decisions? To supplement this capacity he has a team of people that will guide and advise in decisions. NS might have the best intentions – if one is to give him the benefit of the doubt and thats a big if – but you rightly make the point that if he is unhappy with the advise he gets – he simply shuffles the rubble. IMHO the root issue is the composition of this rubble itself. Our culture does not permit us to talk rudely/wrongly to people of our own biradri – let alone establish internal accountability / set merit guidelines for recruitment and onboarding of the right people. This rubble is predominantly comprised of his own biradri or as close as it can be -> as long as they don’t recruit and let in fresh blood which is allowed to question – which is empowered to make decisions (gasp) – but is held accountable (strongly), the needle will not move….


  • Waqar Qureshi
    Oct 27, 2014 - 6:19PM

    Only good decision Nawaz could have made was refusal of his entry into this mortal world. This cruel world did not deserve an honest, innocent, poor and decent man like Nawaz Sharif!


  • Waqar Qureshi
    Oct 27, 2014 - 6:25PM

    If you never made a mistake, you never tried something new.
    No pain, no gain, no risk, no game
    Fortune favors the brave
    are all the quotes for people with mentality like you.


  • wonderer
    Oct 27, 2014 - 7:37PM

    @Waqar Qureshi:

    It is very kind of you Sir to let me know what you think of my “mentality”. In seventy-nine years that I have been on this lovely planet Earth, no one ever could fathom it. Obviously you are the chosen one Allah sends to stand among the misguided and show them the right path. I am humbled indeed. Thanks!

    I am certain you are the one who knows the answer to the question that bothers me. Please do share it with us lowly mortals. If not the precise answer, please do mention a few most probable ones.

    After Nawaz who?


  • harry
    Oct 27, 2014 - 11:31PM

    After Nawaz a fresh face. Someone who has had a genuine background check for original education, bank accounts, foreign reserves, property, etc


  • Single Factor Explanation
    Oct 28, 2014 - 12:54AM

    “…but Pakistan has been governed into ruins.”
    Is bad governance the only cause of Pakistan’s troubles? A nation’s troubles are a result of multiple factors. No single factor explanation is going to suffice. At best it is going to be misleading.


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