Monday, November 15, 2010

ARDESHIR COWASJEE ARTICLES : Sixty-three and down on our knees

Later, in that great tragedy, arch-villain Iago provokes Othello: “Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, Is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that filches from me my good name, Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.”
This latter quote was passionately used by Benazir as prime minister, defending herself in the National Assembly in her second round on but one of the occasions during which she was subjected to allegations of corruption, due in no small part to the suspected misdeeds of her husband-minister.
Now, many years later, the latest presidential capers have dragged Pakistan even deeper through the mud and surely put off to an even larger extent the already reluctant donors who keep it afloat.
The husband-minister was transformed accidentally, as a result of an unresolved tragedy, into the head of state of a wounded nation. His reputation preceded him, as it always has done since he married Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s daughter, and as it unfortunately magnified itself year by year. This month his country, and ours, has suffered most grievously, and his current reputation and that of his government with it.
Our president has made a mockery of his country and of the position of head of state. His prime minister has been made a fool of by his loyal aides, and his ministers and administration have shown themselves to be helpless, incompetent and concerned only with their immediate need to be projected in the media as saviours of an out-of-control situation — and this despite the prime ministerial admission that the government is as way out of its depth as are the inundated cities, towns, villages and fields of this unfortunate country.
No number of columns printed under his name in the western press can now come to the presidential rescue. The latest in the Wall Street Journal of Aug 11 under the misleading title ‘Pakistan’s project of renewal’, cannot offset the numerous news items and columns and write-ups that have appeared internationally detailing the presidential escapades in France and England at a most inauspicious time.
The excuses he gives do not wash and the reaction of the world and of his own nation to further pleas to come to the rescue of a bankrupt government is clear — no aid is flooding in, it is creeping in from wary sources who remember the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake and the lack of administrative and governmental follow-up in the ensuing years. Their wariness comes also from the reputations of the men to whom the aid will be entrusted.
Yesterday, the nation marked its 63rd year of existence — but of course it does not exist in its original form. Our dear leaders in the run up to 1971 saw to it that half the country was willfully dismantled and given away. The usual annual inane platitudes were issued by the current leadership without their realising that using the name of the founder-maker, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, is an insult to his memory, so distant has Pakistan grown from what it was intended to be and so removed are they themselves from the man that was in every conceivable way.
Is there hope of redemption? For what is left of my generation, the answer is no, as it is for a couple of generations that followed. For the youth of the country, there is always hope, as optimism flourishes in those who have not yet experienced the travails and turmoil of life. But what is for sure is that under this present dispensation we will not find redemption as it is so manifestly beyond its members to make any change other than for the worse.
It seems that even the mighty army is nonplussed. All we can do is wait and see what our mentors, providers and protectors have in store for us, how does the US now intend to tackle the problem that is Pakistan? The ‘deal’ it so laboriously set up between Pervez Musharraf, Ashfaq Kayani, Asif Zardari and its European partners after the loss of Benazir does not seem to have quite worked out as intended — unless the intent was failure.
The true number of persons killed, displaced and affected by these tumultuous floods is not known. But it can safely be said that man in the form of the Pakistani has most ably assisted the wrath of nature. None amongst the provinces has been able to agree on whether dams should or should not be constructed and so for years the possibility of massive flooding has been on the cards and kept in abeyance.
Hillsides have been illegally denuded by various ministerial and timber mafias, forests have been chopped down, development has been shoddy — in short corruption, graft and greed have all played their part in what is happening along the banks of the great River Indus, and other rivers — today.
We must all of us bear some responsibility for the death and destruction now visited upon us. We have cast our ballots, we have brought in and acquiesced with corrupt and inept governments, we have welcomed in military ‘great redeemers’ with flowers and ladoos and then seen them off with scorn, as we have the politicians. We, all of us, are not worthy of being citizens of Pakistan — because Pakistan was never meant to be what it now is.

No comments:

Post a Comment