The agony of ecstasy

Published: April 18, 2015
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The writer is Executive Director News, Express News. He tweets @fahdhusain 
fahd.husain@tribune.com.pk

The writer is Executive Director News, Express News. He tweets @fahdhusain [email protected]

There is trouble brewing in Westeros. And winter is coming,

The fresh season of the wildly popular HBO series “Game of Thrones” is back with a vengeance. There shall flow rivers of blood and tears as ruthless characters hack and slice their way through 13 episodes of pure unadulterated intrigue and power play. Many will die a thousand deaths, trampled under the hoofs of unbridled ambition and unabashed self-interest.

Prepare to drown in the delicious agony of excruciating ecstasy.

You shall not be blamed for confusing Westeros with our homeland. Rich in minerals, and in intrigue; blessed with fertile land and infertile imaginations; and brimming with potential, and a thinly-disguised death wish — this is where the action is. Hail the chiefs in all their glorious mediocrity.

For what else would you call a land that struggles to recognise what is good for it and what is not while sleepwalking through policy options? What else would you call a land that swallows the shrapnel of terrorism, yet retains an appetite for death beyond its shores? And what else would you call a land that buries its sons and daughters, and still remains ready to harvest its children’s lives in distant lands?

This is madness. No, This is P.a.k.i.s.t.a.n.

But wait. There is method in this madness. This is not a country that is willing any more to roll over and play dead. No sirs, that country is now a distant memory of generations past. Gone are the days when the mighty rulers stalked this land like hungry wolves, snarling at dissent and devouring all those who dared to think and speak differently. Those were the days when the Establishment was king, when the landed politicians dabbled in social and political mayhem, and when bureaucrats schemed their way to riches and influence. Back then this land belonged to the select few, who by privilege of birth or office enjoyed the best this piece of precious real estate had to offer.

Things they are a changin’ now. Kind of. The Lannisters, Targaryens and Baratheons are locked in a ferocious mortal combat of ideas and ideals. The clanging of steel and iron, the grunts of bloodied warriors, and the stench of charred thinking — all portray a society grappling with existential angst amid the ruins of its original dreams. There is the agony of elected leadership shriveling away from the challenge of terror, to the ecstasy of armed forces leading the charge against extremism. There is the agony of political midgets passing the shameful cybercrime Bill, and ecstasy of the citizens fighting back against this outrage. And then there is the agony of the government coping with the Yemen situation and the ecstasy of the nation standing united against sending our men and women in uniform to fight other people’s wars.

This is a country that is aching to be born again. Torn apart by internal fissures and external pressures, rent asunder by criminal governance and dishonest leadership, the land fights on for its dreams, its aspirations and its future that is still there for the taking. For where else would yesterday’s villains transform into today’s heroes; and where else would generations deprived of education and fundamental rights still produce an aware, motivated and galvanised citizenry hungry for a glorious tomorrow. No ladies and gentlemen, unlike many societies around us, we do not have a dead citizenry that consoles itself with a silver spoon. We suffer from hunger, and hunger drives motivation. We are a mammoth being straining to break free from the shackles of visionless leadership and its myopic policies. Yes, we suffer the agony of our imposed limitations, yet we taste the ecstasy of barrelling ahead against all odds. Roll over and play dead? Never.

Perseverance does indeed command success.

So smell the air around you — yes that’s the scent of hope wafting through clouds of despair. There is hope because this land is once again fighting for its promised future. In every street and bazaar, in every city and town, and in every forum and platform, Pakistanis are combating the demons of the past transmuted to the present through germs of heredity and tradition. Hope is backed by a plan of action, and good things are in store for us.

The strategic moment is upon us, and the dark forces of convention and tradition shall be put to the sword. The tide may yet turn. Karachi — the engine that will pull us into the bright future — is reclaiming its potential. This city will be rid of its horrors, and its scars shall heal with time. Every day promises a better tomorrow as bad men are brought to justice by good men. Every day promises a new beginning when incapable rulers and their petty interests are flung aside by other good men so law reigns over petty politicking. The agony of Karachi is making way for the ecstasy of Karachi. May the best man win the election this week and blaze a new trail of hope for this city of joy.

And may the shameful cybercrime Bill die an inglorious and painful death at the hands of those who cherish freedom of expression, and hold dear the liberties that define a modern society. It is not a bill; it is a travesty in the name of legislation. Those who have drafted it, and those who have passed it, deserve scorn. They are the Lannisters of today.

But the ecstasy of this agony is the promise that this bill will die a slow death like King Joffery — unmourned and unloved. And once it is burned at the pyre, it will herald yet another fantabulous defeat for the dark forces of convention, tradition and mediocrity. There will be time to celebrate, but not yet, for much work lies ahead for this project in progress we call our home.

There is agony in ecstasy, but perhaps a greater ecstasy in the agony that we endure, knowing well that a better tomorrow awaits us all. For Westeros, winter may be coming — but for Pakistan, spring is in the air.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Skeptic
    Apr 18, 2015 - 11:40PM

    Written like a true Aitchisonian. Hope for the coming generation is all we have…Recommend

  • Apr 18, 2015 - 11:50PM

    Beautifully written. Fawad waltz with the words. Always a pleasure to read him.Recommend

  • roarwali
    Apr 18, 2015 - 11:55PM

    Yet another master piece from Fahad Hussain. Loved the way he presented the scenario. Recommend

  • ajay gupta
    Apr 19, 2015 - 9:29AM

    this country is aching to be born again…….yes, then you couldn’t live with the hindus, now you can’t live with shias, ahmediyas, not to mention the drastically reduced hindu, sikh & christian minorities. This is the problem & the basic flaw behind the two nation theory. we in india see so much diversity that india does not belong to any one group. whereas, for u, everyone apart from yourself, friends and family, is the other. How much more bloodshed at this birth? wake up before it is even more late. accept that the idea of a homeland for muslims, or a specific sect of muslims is wrong. Bangladesh should have been an eye opener, but clearly its lessons too sank in the Bay of Bengal. rewrite history with a more inclusive founding theory to begin with.Recommend

  • Napier Mole
    Apr 19, 2015 - 7:28PM

    Your article displays an amazing lack of awareness about what ails Karachi. Like the oxymoronic military intelligence, you are also assuming, hoping, insinuating, believing and perhaps working on the belief that the solution to Karachi’s issues is a zero sum game of eliminating mqm after which rivers of milk and honey would flow on the streets of Karachi.

    No, it would not. MQM would always spring back with a vengeance and reclaim ground on the basis of those very issues which gave birth to it, in the first place. Granted that mqm has wavered from those goals i.e. the resolution of Urban Sind issues, if one wants to pull the rug from under mqm’s feet you need to resolve those issues. Give Karachi a metropolitan government, let the mayor be directly elected, make the police local, do away the quota system, stop modifying the demographics of Karachi, finish off the cantonment areas ….. the list is long and well documented.

    It is shocking when one reads such superficial analysis of Karachi from supposedly well exposed and well read analysts which just goes to proof that if not bias, then at least ignorance, keeps the establishment eyes blinkered over Karachi.Recommend

  • Skeptic2
    Apr 19, 2015 - 8:01PM

    How can the masses win or lose a game in which they are not even players, but just the ball boys.
    All such stories by pseudo intellectuals like you are no more than the drug called ecstacy to keep the agony bearable. However, perhaps this is all that can be done, i.e., pallative treatment. So, sure go on, earn your livelyhood, respect, fame and mind control, as long as it lasts.Recommend

  • skeptic2
    Apr 19, 2015 - 8:09PM

    How can the masses win or lose a game in which they are not even players, but just the ball boys.
    All such stories by pseudo intellectuals like you are no more than the drug called ecstasy to keep the agony bearable. However, perhaps this is all that can be done, i.e., palliative treatment. So, sure go on, earn your livelihood, respect, fame and mind control, as long as it lasts.Recommend

  • yousafhaque
    Apr 19, 2015 - 9:18PM

    Thanks for a brilliant article about my homelandRecommend

  • Naeem Khan
    Apr 19, 2015 - 9:35PM

    “Roll over and play dead? Never.” Kudos to you and the unfortunate but proud nation.Recommend

  • Apr 19, 2015 - 10:13PM

    wow! This piece is so emotional that should be acted in theater. Recommend

  • MJK
    Apr 20, 2015 - 8:01AM

    Us, who dare fight back the injustices, are still a minority. Still, it’s a breather that we ARE fighting back. Minority will soon turn to majority if we persist. Internet IS a curse for those who had extensive plans for fooling the masses for an indefinite period. Thanks to Internet/availability of info from all perspectives, they can fool no more. So yes, there’s wind of change. Hope/pray we don’t lose hope.Recommend

  • Aegon Blackfyre
    Apr 20, 2015 - 12:05PM

    Reborn Amidst fire and blood? I am going to pass.Recommend

  • Pakistan First
    Apr 20, 2015 - 3:08PM

    @Skeptic2:
    Its because of cynics like you that Pakistan and Pakistanis have such a low morale and low self esteem. The likes of you cant digest optimism. Pathetic.Recommend

  • Skeptic2
    Apr 21, 2015 - 3:21PM

    @Pakistan First:
    And the likes of you can’t ingest reality.Recommend

  • Motherofmadness
    Apr 23, 2015 - 8:48PM

    Game of Thrones has 10 episodes… not 13.. per season!! And I love the Lannisters!! why did you demonize them?Recommend

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