By Dr. Haider Mehdi
Unusual as it was, Dubai in the UAE remained under dark clouds, chilled, and rainy for several days last week. Equally unusual, at about the same time, was the fact that Pakistan’s Attorney-General, Justice (retd) Malik Qayyum, a symbol of the neo-colonial mindset of the incumbent political establishment in Islamabad, was spotted shopping all alone, unattended by the subservient bureaucracy of the consulate’s office, in a Hypermarket at the Dubai Festival City. Indeed, it was an indication that the Attorney-General, wanting to be unnoticed, was on a secret mission in the Emirates.
Then came the news that Asif Zardari was also in town to see his children. What a coincidence! This was followed by other news that the Attorney-General had met the PPP Chairperson and offered him the premiership of an interim administration on the pre-condition of accepting certain government demands that included postponing the elections for another year. In the meantime, the General (retd) has been telling his audiences in Western Europe that there is “no way” elections could be delayed.
No less surprising, another media story surfaced: Shahbaz Sharif, President PML (N), had flown to Islamabad to inquire about the health of an old friend, a retired army officer who happens to be a close confidant of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. By absolute coincidence, it was claimed, the younger Sharif and the retired Brigadier flew to London for a medical checkup at about the same time.
In the meantime, the General (retd) continues to claim, abroad as well as at home, that by imposing emergency and dismissing the Supreme Court judges on November 3, 2007, he has upheld the constitution of Pakistan. How one justifies such an absurd and contradictory claim is only known to the General (retd). Ironically, in a similar analogous assertion, the General’s (retd) personal friend and staunch supporter, George W. Bush, considers himself “a president of peace” – notwithstanding a “holocaust” in which over a million and a half people have perished so far in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon. This human carnage has been explicitly orchestrated by his 8-year neo-conservative ultra-Right-Christian-supported regime in Washington D.C. This is despite the fact that the Center for Public Integrity in the US says that the top US officials, including President Bush, lied 935 to the American public and the world in a two-year period leading to the Iraq war – in spite of this, the American president maintains that he and his administration were merely the unwitting victims of “bad intelligence”. Amazing incidents of deliberately intended falsehood, aren’t they? What can you say about these shameful charades of the ultra-Right-Wing politicians?
An internet website is currently circulating two pictures of the former two-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. In the first photograph taken nearly 2 decades ago, Nawaz Sharif is seen on the mazar (grave) of General Zia-ul-Haq saying, “Hum ap ka mission poora karain gay (We will accomplish your mission).” In the second picture, the former Prime Minister is at Benazir’s mazar (grave) and repeating exactly the same statement verbatim, “Hum ap ka mission poora karain gay.” What is this twice- (in two different eras) promised mission exactly?
No human relationships, honorable, dependable, mutual, respectable and lasting can be built on falsehood – let alone solid, healthy and confident relationships between political leaderships and the national masses at large. The war in Iraq is based on falsehoods. So is the so-called incidental meetings between the Attorney-General and Asif Zardari. Contrary to the impression given in the media, the meeting between Shahbaz Sharif and the brigadier was pre-planned for specific political purposes. Similarly, the General’s (retd) assertions, in totality, are based on absolute falsehood and are intended to manipulate the public and the global audience. Just as Nawaz Sharif’s two declarations of “Hum ap ka mission poora karain gay” are purely rhetorical for public consumption.
Falsehood, at an individual level is precipitated by three fundamental psychological factors: (a) The people who habitually lie have no respect for the intelligence of others. They assume that others cannot figure out the truth. Also, they believe that if a lie is told consistently and continually, it will eventually be taken as “the truth” (this is the basis of the media-driven democracy doctrine in the US in the present technological civilization). Politicians (mostly the ultra-Right-Wing media-dependent majority) make another addition to this psychological equation: they believe that people have short memories, and there is no moral dilemma involved in lying to the public.
The second factor at the base of individual falsehood is that the feelings of others, in mutual interaction and human discourse, are not considered as important. What is assumed important is one’s personal agenda and its fulfillment. Politicians’ interpretation of this component is that the masses are too ignorant and lack basic intelligence to understand the dynamics of Realpolitik – It is not the public’s role to decide what and what not to be said in a given situational context. Nor does the public have the right to make judgments on national issues. It is simply a prerogative that belongs to politicians, who are obviously knowledgeable and in power.
The third element that operates within the psyche of individual falsehood is personal arrogance and intrinsic disrespect for seeking mutually and an in-depth strength of relationship with others: “If you do not like what I say and do, then tough luck. It is your problem, not mine.” Politicians extend this personal arrogance to another psychological level: “We are above and apart from the public. We make history. We know what you don’t. The common people neither have the right nor the knowledge nor the vision to question our judgments.”
The question is: If the politicians and the present ruling leadership in Pakistan (for that matter globally, especially in the US) are so aptly visionary, then why are we at the edge of an abyss today? One explanation of the prevailing chaos is the politics of falsehood that has become the “modus-operandi” of our political existence and the intended perpetuation of the said system.
At a time of a seemingly national political renaissance (thanks to the civil society, lawyers and the courageous judges of the apex courts), Asif Zardari did not have to lie to the nation about a pre-planned meeting with a top government functionary; all he had to do was to tell the nation that he wanted to find out about the government’s offer and make a counter-proposal to benefit the national movement for the restoration of democracy.
Shahbaz Sharif did not have to invent a story which no one considers credible; he simply had to say that he wanted to listen to what was being proposed to him. Nawaz Sharif should have remembered that people, after all, do not have such short memories, neither are the masses so remote from understanding what is going on in their country. Nawaz Sharif should have qualified his statements with a reasonable and sensible explanation.
As for the incumbent political establishment, we all know that its leadership suffers from an incurable paralysis of political incorrectness, lack of vision, poor management skills, and above all, from a futility of falsehood that cannot be healed – nor can it be restored to any meaningful dimension that is the call of our time. Judging from the severity of its misjudgments and flawed political decision-making this administration is beyond the possibility of redemption or salvation.
Surely, we as a nation have the right to know where the leadership of both the PPP and the PML (N) firmly stand on the questions of a national political renaissance movement – unequivocally.
Let it be known that the masses are not ignorant, neither are they willing to accept falsehood as the ideological “modus-operandi” of our political existence.
Perhaps the nation should listen to Imran Khan more attentively, more carefully – more diligently – that is where a clear line is being drawn between political falsehood and the political truth of our times!
Seek the truth – and the truth shall set you free…!
The Nation, January 30, 2008