God-forsaken - Masood Hasan - Sunday, December 19, 2010

Source : www.thenews.com.pk

My mother spent her last days in Peshawar, and it is here, in a little graveyard nestled between the edge of University Town and a noisy airfield, that she is buried, along with my late brother-in-law, his sister and his son. A few years ago, Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan joined the plebs and raised the grades, so to speak, of this half-forgotten graveyard. Whenever I go to Peshawar, I usually visit there and say a few words of half-remembered, half-forgotten prayers and stand there in silence with so many memories.

Last week, I was surprised to see an armoured vehicle of the Frontier Constabulary parked outside the graveyard, tents behind heavy cement barriers housed with guards, and some more loitering about. A few enquiries revealed that the FC was out in numbers there because Sifat Ghayur, the young and dashing commandant of the FC who was killed by a suicide bomber in Peshawar in August, lay buried here.

While I had missed the news of Ghayur’s tragic assassination, being away from the motherland, I had heard that he had warned and then dismissed 700 FC personnel who were on the payroll but never showed up for work. This was intolerable for many people who had stakes in this business.. The suicide bomber who targeted the commandant at a traffic light knew precisely what he had to do, as must have his minders. To the best of my knowledge, the trail petered out into nothing and we can all rest assured that the real killers will never be found.

It was the same sometime back when another exemplary police officer, Malik Saad, was gunned down in Peshawar. He was honest, fearless and hardworking and he had started cleaning up the mess. Now a dirty, half-broken bridge over an equally dusty and traffic-choked bunch of roads proclaims his name upon itself. Not quite inspirational, you would agree.

They say Peshawar mourns the passing of these two fine men, and at their funerals there wasn’t a dry eye, but what has happened subsequently? Where are the killers, the plotters, the men behind the assassinations? Thriving, I would guess. And how many Saads and Ghayurs will rise from the ranks, knowing fully well that they too would suffer the same fate if they lead by example and unveil the thick clouds of deceit and corruption that mark all public life? How many will take their lives into their hands and go relentlessly after the thieves and the murderers? How many families would agree to send their children into the mouth of certain death and for what would their lives be snuffed out?

This is indeed the tragedy of this country, that there is probably no single man or woman who is not tainted and corrupted, all victims of a mindset which only encourages the making of ill-gotten money and a life of crime, petty or high. This is our position, and from top to bottom, one side to another, you see the worst-ever examples of our collective failure. It would seem that in a few years’ time, all the values that govern and regulate public life would be long forgotten, replaced by a mad streak of money-making by all means available. And each time these pock-marked skins rise, everyone throws up his or her hands in mock horror and swear undying innocence. Yet the people know, even the silliest ones, that those who protest most loudly are most corrupted.

And they are hardly ever wrong. As per script, the country’s leading scumbags do the needful and do it with aplomb – Milad parties, Quran lectures, setting up of madressahs, the Umrahs and the Hajs and the visits to every shrine to commune with the Maker. If God has a forsaken kingdom, it is none other than the citadel of Islam that has risen here. The recent Haj scam is just about the last straw, except that this camel’s back is past breaking. Even the most evil and depraved of people – no shortage of that variety here – think twice about committing outrageous acts against the very God before whom they tirelessly prostrate themselves from one end of the day to the other, but without shame they commit shameless acts and look as innocent as babes at birth.

The commandeering of poor PIA’s aircraft and the ensuing flight to the holy land, the confiscation of the aircraft by the Saudis, the fines imposed, and all that followed, is well-known and well-documented, but it has been neatly filed away. Polyester-brand ambassador Rehman Malik is busy touring the countryside, offering a helping hand here, a shoulder there. The hefty fine is buried somewhere, the holy joyride arranged by Mr Malik has not been questioned and certainly his job is very much secure, the party of the faithful that accompanied Mr Malik is back reconditioned and at zero-metre, to begin anew with newly found inspiration, and so life rolls on.

In the wake of the scandal, two ministers have been fired and prompted Maulana Diesel to resign from the government on grounds of “principles”. This is indeed news for morons like me, to learn that the 350-pound Maulana has principles – maybe he meant principals. As head of the Kashmir Committee – pray, what connection has he with that troubled land? – he has done nothing to further the cause of the Kashmiris. But the government eats out of his hand because he and a few other dodgy hairy birds are constantly playing off their small number of seats and general nuisance value to squeeze more favours out of a government that has as many scruples as a serial sex-offending rabbit.

Last weekend, Mr Riaz Malik’s son fled into oblivion after being a part of a badly planned, criminally negligent car race that killed five. So did another gent of a “noble family”, as they like to call themselves. So did the event organisers, well-connected and well-heeled as they are, and so is the man who snuffed five lives and had the gall to flee the accident, get on his Facebook and tell his admirers that, Allah be praised, he was safe and sound. No mention of those he killed! Yet there is no FIR and the cops, bless their black hearts, have already apologised to Malik Sahib that they raided his home looking for the offender.

All has been forgiven by the good Malik who claimed that he owed all he had to his mother’s blessings. I suppose she must have advised him to arrange that his son flee and remain lost till things cool down. In the end, little is expected to happen that will have any significance. In a few months, maybe less, the affair will be consigned to the dustbin of Pakistan’s shameful history and the guilty will be back, restored with full honour. No, there is no hope for the hopeless, as Zoro said, and added a few other things which I cannot place here since this is a family paper.

The writer is a Lahore-based columnist. Email: masoodhasan66@gmail.com

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