Too late to head for shore?
21 January, 2011
By Roedad Khan
These days, like most Pakistanis, I feel very troubled in the head and heart. It is as if one is boiling inside all the time with some kind of helpless indignation, enraged to see such a good country going to hell with such cruelty and waste. Not every generation is given the chance to turn the page on the past and write a new chapter in history. Yet this was the opportunity before us on August 14, 1947. We botched it.
Today Pakistan looks exhausted, ossified and ideologically bankrupt, surviving merely to perpetuate its corrupt rulers. Never has the divide between ruler and ruled seemed so gaping, and perhaps never has it been so dangerous. Thievery at the summit of power, a totally new phenomenon introduced in this country by Zardari, inspires outrage and disgust among the people, especially the poor.
President Ben Ali of Tunisia had to flee the country in the darkness of the night in order to escape the wrath of his people. Isn’t it a great tragedy that General Musharraf, guilty of unspeakable crimes against the state and with the blood of innocent Pakistanis on his hands, was given a ceremonial guard of honour by the so-called democratic government of Pakistan and allowed to escape. Little did the people of Pakistan know that it was all part of the deal made in Washington, now unfolding before our eye. The Zardari regime is merely a facsimile of the Musharraf regime in civilian clothing and is awash in corruption.
Today the nation is clearly at a crossroads. We can follow the line of least resistance, turn a blind eye and follow the road that has led us to where we are today. Or we can choose the other road. If parliament is unable or unwilling to respond to public demands, people will, perforce, take the issue to the parliament of man, the parliament of the streets.
The American footprint in our country is growing larger and heavier by the day. Nuclear Pakistan is now an American colony and is used as a doormat on which the US can wipe its bloodstained boots. American military personnel cross and re-cross our border without let or hindrance. Their drones violate our air space with the agreement of our government and kill innocent men, women and children. No questions asked. No public outrage. No protest demonstrations. No self-respecting country, big or small, would tolerate such intrusions.
Men and women of Pakistan! Today we are engaged in a great battle. The lines are drawn. The issues are clear. Those who are not with the people are against them. It is as simple as that. The time to hesitate is through. Now or never is the moment when salvation from these highway robbers is possible. Too long have we been passive spectators of events. Today our fate is in our hands, but soon it may go beyond. “There is a moment in engagement”, Napoleon once said, “when the least manoeuvre is decisive and gives victory. It is a one drop of water which makes the vessel run over”. That moment has arrived.
Pakistan has only two choices: shambles and corrupt rulers or a rally of the mass of the people. Little Tunisia is a clarion call for all those who want to drive out their corrupt rulers. Both the president and the prime minister lack integrity and credibility. Any other person in their position would have resigned long ago. A Japanese would have committed hara-kiri. The tragedy of Pakistan is that both Zardari and Gilani are clinging to office like a dirty old piece of chewing gum on the leg of a chair and, like Ben Ali, will not leave voluntarily.
At this moment, when the nation is standing on the escalator of corruption and anarchy, right-minded citizens cannot afford to stand frozen in disgust and dismay. We cannot merely look upon the political development in sorrow and upon our politicians in anger. The problems facing the country have to be faced and their solutions sought without delay. We are racing against time. A problem avoided turns into a crisis, and the crisis not mastered can turn into a disaster further down the road.
I still remain hopeful we can rouse ourselves to save our country. But the time is growing short. We are fast approaching the edge of a huge waterfall and are about to plunge over it. Unfortunately, no one seems to realise that it is almost too late to head for shore.