There live among us many people who have dark hearts and darker souls. They think in shades of black and act in tones of bad. The tide turns crimson as they grow powerful by the day.
Bad things are happening in Pakistan. Look around you and smell dread. A gale of loathing is blowing across this landscape, carrying with it a putrid stench of fear and uncertainty.
There is much disturbance under the heavens when the powerful stop caring for the weak. In this land of ours, there is great turbulence, misery, tragedy and heartbreak. Here people are shedding tears and blood. And here, dark men with darker hearts are ascending dizzying heights despite the fact that those who matter have stopped caring for those who should matter, but do not.
In this unfolding Shakespearian tragedy, the punishing desert of Thar is sprouting little graves, while brick kilns are being fuelled by human flesh. In this tragedy, men are flayed in police stations, women and children are shackled and manacled in private and official prisons, while big men in big offices build big buses and bigger bridges. A farce is being built around us. It is a farce that screams irony. But who’s listening?
Indeed. You listen only if you care. And care is dying a slow death in this land of ours. Yes, little babies are dying in Thar; yes, their death is a moral murder; yes, a crime is being committed in plain sight; and yes, no one in the Sindh government cares.
It’s not just the Sindh government that has stopped caring. Yes, every day humanity is brutalised in police stations across the country; every day men and women are beaten, tortured and killed by the upholders of law within these precincts. Yes, these men in uniform perform an officially sanctified ritual of plucking nails, crushing bones, lashing backs till the body of the victim is bloodied into a pulp. They do this, not just because they have grown hearts of stone, but because they know they are torturing and murdering in the name of the State, and often at its behest. They are murderers who are paid by taxpayers’ money, nourished by taxpayer-funded institutions that are patronised by taxpayer-funded rulers. They kill us in our name with our money.
How do you lose the ability to care? How do you infect yourself with a debilitating moral blindness? How do you amputate your sense of humanness and kindness? How do you transform your pulsating heart into a cold, grey stone, and then paint it black? And how do you live with yourself knowing you are responsible for so much misery, so much pain, and so much grief?
The tragedy of our governance is the tragedy of the government refusing to care for those it governs. It is the tragedy of a state abdicating its fundamental responsibility of caring for its citizens.
Why else would the rulers not acknowledge the obvious? Thar is a crime against humanity. But the PPP grandees feel no shame in justifying and defending their shocking response. Do they not have children of their own? Can they not feel, or imagine the crushing grief of a parent who has to bury his child? You think of the party elite sitting in their plush drawing rooms talking about their political ploys and strategies while Thar eats its children, and you shake with an uncontrollable fury at the heartlessness of it all. Is this the final revenge of democracy? Is this the cruel fate of those condemned to live under the rule of a party that is slowly turning into a rotting corpse?
But the PPP is not alone in this crime. The State itself is guilty. Who cares about material things and development schemes when human beings are being persecuted with state sanction? Who cares about democratic niceties and revoltingly hypocritical parliamentary posturing when governments cannot provide justice to the weak; when they cannot ensure the safety of life and property; and when they cannot educate every single child. A State and government that deprioritises its own citizens, is for all practical purposes, an illegitimate entity.
A state and a government that has lost the ability to care, has lost the mandate to rule. Period.
Yes, it has lost this right because it does not follow the Constitution. Enshrined in this document are all the rights and privileges that are accorded to the citizens of Pakistan. But it is a sign of the acute rot within this system that the blatant violation of the Constitution is considered the new normal by judges, lawyers and politicians alike. The sickness runs deep.
And so it is time to get furious. Fury at the way the State treats us; fury at the crimes perpetrated by governments; fury at the unimaginable arrogance and ineptitude of the elected rulers; fury at the callousness with which human suffering is treated; fury at the inability of those in power to recognise the duty towards the governed; fury at their refusal to consider everyone equal before the law; fury at their deliberate unwillingness to reform this rotting system; and fury at the grotesque realisation that they just do not care.
Fury is a call to action. It is a call to action against being taken for granted; against the official murder of little babies in Thar and the state sanctioned torture and killing of citizens across the country. It is a call to action against the selfish politicking of corrupt, inefficient and uncaring rulers, and against their horrible failure to take care of this nation like they take care of their immediate family. Fury is a call to action against all those who have ravaged this land and its people in the name of misplaced ideology, mismanaged policy and misdirected intentions. Yes indeed, fury is a call to action against all those who continue to grow fat on our tax money while our kids die unmourned.
There was never a better time to be furious at the dark hearts and darker souls who live among us and prey upon us.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2014.