Chimera coalition - Mir Adnan Aziz - Thursday, March 17, 2011

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“The audience watched in awe, the circus where harlequins faint and cry; jokers wait their cues as thieves in the dark. They clapped and danced merrily, pierrots of the centre-stage. Secretly they grinned from ear to ear like the clown with that forlorn face and the king who washes his hands, playing safe, acting cool on his throne soon to be washed out. Like fireflies in the night, the show sparkled from a distance a thousand and one lights of magic and trance. Then the breeze of summer blew like a tongue of fire and the farce ended.” (Circus, by Watus Solis)

In Greek mythology a chimera is a fire-breathing monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body and a serpent’s tail. Over time, the anatomy of our chimera coalition changed, but the end result remains the same. Not surprisingly, President Zardari’s Karachi visit and Rehman Malik’s London trip gave the present chimera coalition yet another reprieve. The hopes of the masses, themselves wishing a reprieve, have been vanquished as the circus unfolded yet another act.

In medieval folklore, vampires, the fiends of the Underworld, were fabled creatures of the night. They rose from graves and roamed the earth feeding on the lifeblood of innocent victims. Today we are afflicted with modern “vampires,” the musical chair political leadership that simply refuses to fade away. They have honed and perfected their craft to levels of the most devious efficacy.

This new breed does not seek out blood; instead, they suck away the monetary and financial life of those ruled. No longer content to seek out individual victims, they now prey upon the entire nation. Greed and covetousness dominates; the craving a fetter that poisons the heart and deludes minds. This insatiable lust for wealth begets an excessive greed for power.

In this century the world at large has moved on, with the majority having accepted standards of civility and governance. Tragically, our own political landscape remains dominated by primitive greed, hatred and acrimony, while the citizenry is stricken by insecurity and hunger. The nation, in all respects, is sinking.

We have become a country in which ordinary people see no hope of advancement. They see political involvement as pointless, because to them in the end it is only the interests of the corrupt elite that get served.

At the national level corruption has been rampant in the executive, administrative and bureaucratic institutions. The contributing factors have been non-existent accountability and absolute politicisation of institutions. On the societal level, as a trickledown effect, it has seeped into the very fabric of our lives with the stark realisation that only money makes the mare go.

This affliction plagued us as public office gradually ceased to be a platform for rendering selfless service and morphed into a shortcut for financial and political empowerment. Since then, brigands of political and public officers have looted the nation blind with utmost impunity. After doing that, they adopt incredible plenty, without fear of anyone prying into the ill-gotten wealth they flaunt.

If somebody, like our court of last resort, does start questioning their brimming coffers, they create diversionary ripples and whirlpools. This chimera controls and holds the political and economic jugular of the nation.

Our bloated ministries and bureaucracies are packed with cronies who reek of graft, venality and inefficiency. “Government” has become the arena of self-enrichment with everybody who wants to be rich. When confronted with the fact, they engage in self-serving arguments to defend their conduct. Does governance stand a chance within this narrow framework of our political order?

What could be more ironic than a president cocooned in his presidential bunker adamant to have the accountability head of his choice, seemingly for the “immunity” that could provide from legal prosecution? The time served by this political dispensation has been devoid of any empathy; their indifference in the face of human suffering is a denial of their oaths of office.

The whole NRO show benefited thousands of criminals and plunderers. Unscrupulous politicians, bureaucrats and individuals sold their souls and yet were inducted in the hall of shame. National flag lapel pins adorn their hearts, they seek everything but a vibrant Pakistan. A few pointers that contributed to their collective failure are disastrous domestic policies, lack of vision, executive misconduct and a severe deficit of credibility and public trust.

Only when leadership is honest and inspiring can it mobilise a critical mass of people towards an agenda of real change. As Shelley says: “The rich have become richer, the poor have become poorer and the vessel of state is driven between anarchy and despotism.”

Let us hope and pray in this current crisis there evolves a new generation of untainted leaders. And that we will be rid of the NRO, targeted killings and bhatta. A tall order like this needs divine intervention. It also calls the people to take upon themselves the burden of reshaping the nation.

The writer is a freelance contributor. Email:

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