Wakeup call - Dr A Q Khan - Monday, March 07, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=34832&Cat=9

Josh Malihabadi is considered to be the most famous progressive poet. All those poets who were sympathetic to communism kept quiet against the British because of Britain’s support to communist Russia against Hitler. Josh, however, was not to be deterred by such considerations. He recited inflammatory verses against British rule and was promptly put behind bars. This “honour” was not earned by any other poet.

This column takes its title from the first verse of his famous quartet:

Suno ae saakinan-e khak o pasti

Nida kya aarahi-hai aasmaan sey

Keh aazadi ka ik lamha hai behtar

Ghulami ki hayaat-e jawidaan sey.

These “saakinan-e khak o pasti” is a reference to the slaves, the people of the subcontinent who were colonised the British. Josh inspired them with his message that it was a thousand times better to live a short life in freedom and independence than a long life of slavery. Whenever there is need for inspiration, determination and encouragement, there is need for a leader, a fiery orator or a redeemer—like Allama Iqbal and Josh. They had different objectives, but their course of action was similar. The people of the subcontinent lived under colonial rule for almost two hundred years, and this left such a permanent psychological effect on their mentality that even now, after 63 years of independence, the same inferiority complex prevails. They portray their cowardice as a sign of patience - sometimes as being advisable and sometimes as being pragmatic - and never take bold actions or let others do so. Poets are usually very sensitive, understand the passions and feelings of the people and express these in their work. They encourage people to rise up and sometimes even taunt those same people of cowardice.

In our own country an able prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was toppled by an ungrateful military dictator, Gen Zia. Bhutto was put in jail and hanged on dubious charges of murder. I still remember many bigwigs openly celebrating his hanging by distributing sweets. Ironically, one of those very people is now a prominent Zardari supporter and confidant and praises Mr Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. At that time there were no protests and no demonstrations were held; everyone was trying to curry favours with Gen Zia. Now the age of eulogising and worshipping the dead has dawned. People shed hypocritical crocodile tears and important buildings and educational institutions are named after them. Benazir was murdered in broad daylight surrounded by her so-called loyalists and admirers. There followed some rumpus, no more. Zardari and his colleagues have ruled the country for the past three years and the culprits of that heinous crime have not been arrested, even though Zardari and others have all openly claimed to know who the culprits are.

Elaborate functions are held on death anniversaries and processions taken out (at state expense). The person who was ultimately responsible for her security and was suspected of involvement was given a guard of honour and a grand send-off when he left the country. Now he is taunting all by asking who the holder of the two most important positions in the country is and who benefited most from her death. Well, we all know what (who) he means.

Things are changing very fast all over the world. In many Arab countries, and to a lesser extent in our own country, people are rising against cruel rulers. They are hoping and praying for change, either peaceful or otherwise. Their blood boils. The situation is like a keg of gunpowder—one spark will be enough to blow everything up. The corrupt and oppressive rulers will find no place to hide and they will have to answer for all their crimes, wrongdoings and corruption. We all know that very often a race car driver, ever-confident of his driving skills, dies in a car accident. Similarly, an expert swimmer often drowns. Those living a life of luxury may well end up dishonoured and destitute. We have the examples of Marcos, the Shah of Iran, Hosni Mubarak, Ben Ali and Musharraf.

Decades of dictatorial rule came to an end and nobody had any sympathy for the despots. The flood is moving mountains, obstructions are being swept away and, one by one, dictators are being toppled. Pakistan is awaiting its turn and it is bound to happen, rather sooner than later. After all, there is a Divine edict that states that Allah gives respite (to repent and behave) to the wrongdoers for a little while, but then He subjects them to sudden, severe and harsh chastisement. Then all their prayers, crying and lamentations will be of no avail.

On the one hand we have almost 150 million people living either below the poverty line or just above it, while on the other hand corrupt and shameless politicians and businessmen got Rs250 billion worth of loans written off, as happened during the last few years, and are living ever more luxurious lives. According to media reports, these people have stashed away about Rs28 trillion in Swiss banks. Analysts have calculated that this amount is enough for (a) a tax-free budget for 30 years, (b) providing employment to 60 million Pakistanis and (c) providing Rs20,000 per month to every Pakistani for 60 years. It could also free us from the clutches of the World Bank and the IMF. All this wealth is in the hands of a relatively small number of people while almost 150 million people are leading miserable lives.

In our country, crooks, manipulators and the corrupt have found ways and means of perpetrating their hold. All that is required is to be an American agent, follow the American agenda, and don’t worry about the masses suffering and starving as these helpless poor can’t do anything anyway. Some sane people, and many analysts, are worried about the impending eruption of the volcano. Some are also advising the masses to rise up and snatch their rights by force; when force is used, a lot of blood is shed.

The irony in our country is that the corrupt, sly rulers use provincial, ethnic and sectarian slogans to divide and rule and they have succeeded so far. Whenever there is some popular opposition, this is the policy which is followed.

There is an urgent and definite need for honest and patriotic members of all political parties to join hands to mobilise the masses to rise and make the necessary changes by force. The suffering masses should unite to fight current evils and consider themselves to be Pakistanis only – nothing else. If they follow such a course, they will definitely succeed. The chain reaction started from Tunisia and is knocking at our door. Rise and demand your rights and don’t allow yourselves to be treated like cattle by the corrupt and selfish rulers. There is not much time left. The young generation has a great responsibility to lead in this demand for change.

Email: ali4drkhan@gmail.com

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