You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of democracy, social justice and the equality of mankind in your own native soil. [Mohammed Ali Jinnah]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Roaring of the Lion and Glimpses into the Future

It is as though he has returned from the dead. Just a few days after destiny dragged him through the dark vale of death on the other side of the mountains of the moon, the Lion of Pakistan returned. And he was roaring. In a rare moment of mental concentration, our otherwise punch-drunk nation listened intently and agreed. We are a people who had almost forgotten what it feels like to listen to a leader who truly and eloquently voices our concerns. The all-too-frequent meek howls of jackals and the wily mutterings of foxes – they could never strike a chord with Pakistan’s aspirations. It was in the thunderous roaring of the engulfed Lion, that we finally found vindication for that basic right long denied to us – the right of representation in the highest halls of power.

When Nawaz Sharif came all out with his charge sheet against our praetorian overlords, who have yet again le the nation down, it was a great national cathartic moment. And more than that, it was a moment of destiny. Absolutely unpredicted by anyone. It wasn’t just the self-obsessed khakis who were taken aback. So inexplicable the whole episode was, that even after it has happened, the carrion-eaters who flourish on analyzing our multifarious miseries and misfortunes, the dementors who build personal careers and reputations by feeding upon whatever little is left of hope in our people, and the great political pundits, they are all dumbstruck. Bewildered, they are still trying “to explain the underlying factors” that might have “caused” this “political gesturing.” But they find nothing to support them; this time round, the Lion has roared and there is little that the misery-mongers can add.

The problem with the carrion-eaters is that their theoretical framework cannot accomodate a major factor which drives history - a factor that clearly does not hold complete sway over the unfolding of history but, equally so, can only be ignored at one’s peril. I am referring to the rare emergence of a moment of destiny accompanied by a man of destiny, who work in tandem to make history. This is what explains the roaring of the Lion. And it even offers us a glimpse into our national future – which turns out to be more promising that what the carrion-eaters would allow for.

At times like these, the professional cynics are left with little to say. By all rational calculus, the Lion of Pakistan had everything to gain by making his peace with the khakis, just like all the other political stakeholders did, even if this meant being treacherous to his temporal political sovereigns – the  People of Pakistan. Only a few weeks ago, as the Lion waged a personal battle for his life in a hospital in London, swinging every hour between life and death, back home, the carrion-eaters were predicting his political demise. And it was quite clear that the forces-who-must-not-be-named were making every possible effort to unite all those who stood against the Lion – so as to deny him an other expected landslide electoral victory, whenever the next elections are held. And yet it is that just two weeks later, when destiny offered the Lion a perfect chance to oblige the khakis for ever by saving them from the wrath of the plebians, he just wouldn’t do it. Right at a time, when the olive branch would make the greatest personal sense for him, risking further enmity and embracing political isolation, the Lion, true to his instincts, decided to roar. Some of his own aides tried to pull him back. But he went all out. Thankfully, the nation has listened, and stands mesmerized by this man of destiny.

The critics cannot make any sense of this because in their profane calculus, there is simply no room to account for a man of destiny and a moment of destiny, even when they do encounter one. This has happened before. It was not too long ago, when another man of destiny, surrounded by five towering men in uniform, trapped deep in the lair of the khakis, simply refused to bow down.  He stood. And the my people stood behind behind. That day, and long after that, the carrion-eaters couldn’t explain what was afoot. Yet, the man of destiny has not ceased to perform his daily share of miracles.

No less a man of destiny is the Lion. The People of Pakistan cannot agree more with him. He has taken a difficult stand and he will have to fight for it, paying a heavy price of blood, sweat and tears. Yet the People will stand with him, just at they stood, and even marched, not too long ago.

The critics still stare with disbelief. In the year 1999, the Lion took a stand. And then, in his hour of need, when he looked back, he found that there was absolutely no one standing behind him. He suffered long years of solitary imprisonment, exile and deceit. By all calculations, he should have learnt his lesson. And after all this, somehow he has again found the courage to become the Lion that he now is. What could possibly explain this? Destiny is one factor, clearly. But so, I dare say, is death.

Isn’t it amazing just how many times has death, both physical and political, engulfed him, and yet been turned back. In the early years of this decade, he seemed destined for the gallows, just like the equally popular and courageous ZAB before him. But in the last hours, destiny saved him. Then, in the opulent surrounding of a posh Jaddah neighborhood, isolated from his soil, he seemed destined for a slow political death – like a flower plucked from its roots. And yet destiny saved him. When the late Mohtarma returned to this country and made here NRO-guaranteed peace with the general and imperial powers, the Lion seemed destined for exclusion from the political process. And yet, just a day before the last date for filing nomination forms, riding on the wings of destiny, he touched Pakistani soil. Still, in the aftermath of Zardari’s election and being played around by the Dogar Court, under whose directions Shehbaz Sharif was disqualified, it again seemed that political death would finally get its long sought target. And yet again, he emerged unscathed. Now, just a few weeks ago, his failing heart seemed finally to be giving in to sorrows that surround my people. His enemies were multiplying, conspiring and consolidating. Yet, there he is. Back in the game. Repeated encounters with death have transformed him. And this is why, today, he is roaring. But where is destiny driving the Lion of Pakistan?

Here I can only share glimpses into the future which in the eye of the heart I beheld, even as I heard the Lion roar. This is the year two-thousand-and-fourteen. For all the critics’ warnings, Pakistan is still very much there. It has a more vibrant Parliament that ever before, now led by the Lion and his compatriots, both the young and fierce and the old and mellowed. Pakistan has the most civilianized executive it has so far had, and, in the wake of their embarrassment after the OBL debacle, the khakis are retreating, bit by bit, to their barricks, doing only that which they do best, leaving everything from governance to urban planning and education to those better suited for these jobs. And we also have the most independent and honest judicial system that we have so far had, since the cursed imperialists stepped in. I look back at 2004. Whatever I see there - a spineless judiciary, a corrupt executive led by khakis who worry about nothing more than their institutional interest, a pliant, King’s Parliament, a nation qietly digging itself a political and economic hole which it would soon plunge into – all of this seems history, by-gone, almost forgotten.

As the Lion roared, in the eye of the heart, this is the Pakistan I saw. The return of truth and courage in politics is an earth-shaking development. It is not just that we are seeing destiny at work, only amidst individuals and moments. My people are all a people of destiny. And it is their dawn, the spotless dawn which they are destined for, which has drawn nigh. Those ofus who can see things, can see it already. It is that close, I tell you. 

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