Rats at the Dike
15 November, 2010
By Anwaar Hussain
It is with deep anguish that one pens what one must pen. There is no pleasure in writing this piece.
Frank Lautenberg, the oldest senator in the United States senate, once said, “One thing I have learned in my time in politics is that if one of the parties is shameless, the other party cannot afford to be spineless.”
On the Pakistani political scene, it is shamelessness and spinelessness all around. With a vile determination and barbarous statecraft, the so called Pakistani leaders have taken turns over the decades to assault the body and spirit of this blighted nation. They have plundered and ravaged it, tore its fabric, blemished it with hideous scars until now when it has become this broken, mournful land swaying like a drunkard in the wind.
Thanks to the bunch of pygmies that have been running the show in Pakistan since its birth, the country is now virtually on the brink of disaster. Perhaps like a leviathan out of the ashes, it can still rise up on its wobbly knees to the challenge but the chances are dim. And that is because Pakistan, gasping for life breaths as it already is, will have to do that with these leaders weighting it down from the throat downward, sucking its lifeblood all that while.
The irony is that the Pakistani leadership, by and large, knows it. They know it not by being some kind of visionaries but by that innate hyena like sense that tells them that the prey is about to fall. They know it by those eerie howls on moonlit nights that they find themselves and their kith and kin baying involuntarily to invite each other to the carcass. They know it by that sudden urge to join the frenzy, that monstrous perversion written indelibly on their genetic code.
That much is what they know.
What we know is something entirely different. Though telling it to them is like throwing water on a duck’s back, for they sit secure in their accepted littleness, one must jot it down nonetheless. Perhaps, if time allows, another crop of our national leadership will heed these words.
What we know is that we do not need leaders like these leading us out of these dire straits. It is impossible in fact. For no one has ever heard of the looters ultimately leading the caravan they had been robbing all along to its final destination.
What we know is that there are three individual values that all national leaders must possess i.e. moral courage, competence, and commitment. That these three values are considered essential for building the trust which must exist for the leadership of a nation. And that all these are alien to the aggressively selfish dwarfs going around as Goliaths in Pakistan.
What we know is that for the nation its leaders’ moral courage is much more important than their physical courage for it is this form of courage that will make them stand firm on their values, their ethical principles, and their convictions. That it takes special courage to support unpopular decisions and to make it difficult for others to do the wrong thing. That the ‘others’ may push them to offer a ‘slightly’ unscrupulous solution as the easiest or most expedient way. That we expect them not to do that; to stand up for their beliefs and what they know is right. And that if they believe they are right after sober and careful judgment, they should hold their position and keep on coming. What we also know is that such fine distinctions are foreign to their wicked nature. They consider these to be an affront to their ancestral creed.
What we know is that a duty is a legal or moral obligation to do what should be done without being told to do it. That duty means accomplishing all the tasks to the fullest of one’s ability. That it requires willingness to accept full responsibility for one’s actions. That if one lies or tells a half-truth to make one’s own self or one’s party look good, it may be called being loyal to the leader and the party, but in fact it is being dishonorable and unethical, neglecting one’s duty to the nation that has the first claim on that office. That, to put it in even simpler terms, a leader just cannot truly do his duty without being honorable. What we also know is that these ‘leaders’ laugh in our faces for holding such ‘idiotic’ ideals, calling it a babbling gossip.
What we know is that national leaders must put the nation’s welfare ahead of their own interests. That they must resist the temptation to put self-gain, personal advantage, and self-interests ahead of what is best for the nation. That as leaders, in fact, they must be the greatest servants. That their offices and position are not personal rewards. That they earned them so that they can serve their nation. What we also know is that for cherishing such standards, right now they are silently saying ‘go climb a pole’ and suggesting that we read their lips.
What we know is that whether they like it or not, they are on display at all times. That their actions say much more than their words. That the nation watches them carefully and is likely to imitate their behavior. That they must accept the obligation to be worthy role models and that they cannot ignore the effect their behavior has on the nation. That they themselves must be willing to do what they require of their countrymen. What we also know is that in their midnight congregations, when the truth serum rages wildly through their veins, they damn us for holding close such values and bawl out their midnight howls to show their contempt for us.
After having written all these lines, I now have in my mind’s eye the mug shots of the Zardaris, the Makh-Dooms, the Nawazes, the Hotis, the Raisanis, the Fazl-ur-Rehmans, the Adbullah Shahs, the countless feudal landlords and the many Generals of my unfortunate country. It instantly brings to my mind what Edmund Burk once said, “By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation.”
Here is a whole rat pack at the dike. How much time does Pakistan have?