“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act” — George Orwell.
Lady luck — the other name of the system’s failure — invariably offers the people of Pakistan the bleakest of alternatives, which, in reality, is a sheer mockery and hence ceases to be an alternative. There are those who, in the name of religion, simply wish to devour them and others who, at the cost of their blood and sweat, help these predators thrive while maintaining their institutional hegemony through coercion. Security, integrity or solidarity, whatever the tag this hegemony may carry, continues to lack legitimacy since it is the not the direct rule of a class but one of its tools that, albeit is loyal to the former, does not represent the interests of the majority.
It is akin to Bonapartism without a Bonaparte occupying centre-stage. Here to protect its larger interests and to keep the balance of power tilted in favour of the ruling class, though temporarily it is forced to yield some of its authority to its praetorian guards. It happens in one of those circumstances when the hegemony of the ruling class is openly challenged. Hence the nature of necessity demands this makeshift arrangement, since nothing remains more integral than the continuation of the status quo of class rule and that too by the same forces. After the French Revolution, the capitalist forces bowed before Napoleon who, while fleecing its mentors, accomplished the job given to him. The workers were pulverised. In recent history, to cherish the same memories, Hitler and Mussolini provided not dissimilar examples.
For the ruling classes of Pakistan, this catastrophic situation has never been new. Since the very inception of this state the gladiators always were far more invincible than Caesar himself, regardless of how heavily mandated the latter was. A virtue of being elected, which mostly stands on debatable and politically porous ground, tends to become more a vice than a virtue, not only proving counter-productive but tricky and tragic too.
Mujeeb and Bhutto, the only genuinely elected leaders, became victims of the same horrendous deed. Sharif’s second term was an exception. His electoral victory could be beyond any doubt but it was certain since the level of the playing field was made extremely dicey for other political parties. He, a product of the establishment, once having fulfilled his job, was sent packing to a distant land lock, stock and barrel. The chessboard was swept clean for another Bonaparte. The pawn acting as king was removed. No tears shed.
In Pakistan, the real power has yet again decided to put its foot down. This time, the venue is not the prime minister’s house in Islamabad but the peaks of North Waziristan. The target is its home-grown birds who, previously in the habit of coming home to roost, have chosen some other enclave to sustain themselves. The question is not about the victory of the mighty forces that is heaped with the claims of always being decisive and eternal but of the future of the people of Pakistan and the length and extent of their suffering, which equally has become eternal. The Pakistan army is clearly divided and polarised between pro-Taliban and secular elements, and has yet to put its house in order. Now it seems more likely it will never be able to materialise this dream if at all it has any intention to do so.
With every passing day the contradictions inherent in its policies are becoming evident even to a common person. On the one hand, it keeps taking a swipe at all the liberal and conscientious people who oppose its pro-Taliban policy, including the strategy of seeking enduring depth in the neighbouring country and sponsoring the malignant madrassas (seminaries) where terrorists are regularly harboured (Carlotta Gall: What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden). On the other hand, every now and then it restages a Shakespearean tragedy by attacking the tempest of self-created Calibans who turn impudent or over-ambitious and their splinter groups, which, in the recent past have become audacious enough to challenge its hegemony by inflicting wounds to its vanity.
Leaving madrassas aside — which are guided by the whims of the generals and their lone purpose is to produce youngsters intoxicated with the desire to depart this world for a utopian one — the education imparted to the students attending modern institutions is marred by the concepts of ‘enemy’ and ‘fear’. They are brainwashed by the ruling ideology in such a way that they even lose the desire to dream about any other better social possibility. The sole purpose of this education remains to make them succumb to conformity.
Montesquieu has precisely observed that “fear is what makes and sustains dictatorships”. Another tragedy which piggybacks this teaching is the distortion of history, which to quote Freud “is not unlike a murder”. It inculcates the false sense that prior to the arrival of Islam the world was more perverse and less provident. The “devil went about like a roaring lion while merely savages and hunters” ruled the world. The planet was merely in a state of flux, afflicted by primordial chaos. All previous societies were insane, unaware of virtue and were living presumably in the era of absolute ignorance. “Thinking,” which according to Hegel, “is essentially negation of that which is immediately before us”, has been shackled to the extent that the Archimedean point, which is capable of providing the dissenting note or an alternate view of reality has vanished. A negation ceases to exist. Reason against the established reality is not merely refuted coercively but attempted to be exterminated. The rebel who refuses to submit to this false consciousness is left with one option: “To revive the desperate laughter and the cynical defiance of the fool as means of demasking the deeds of the serious ones who govern the whole” (Herbert Marcuse).
How this present fiasco can be lighted with the truth, especially when ignorance and religious domination have come this far that the exploitation of humanity, according to divine law, is considered natural, the reality of class antagonisms is distorted and is presented as a divine order, exploitation is accepted as universal and submission to authority, religious or one perpetuating its cause, becomes a norm. Life with a concession of heaven has turned into a mere conceded existence. Where lies the redemption? Only in the revolt and emancipation of the masses. A revolt for the very survival of the people to break the fetters of this false consciousness, this indoctrinated consumer-based society that demands unconditional conformity with the manipulated reality of religion, patriotism and deception. Human wellbeing is neither possible in a competitive society based on illusions nor by tolerating the brutality of the established way of life. Rather than political jugglers, through spontaneity and belief in their own leadership, people will need to commence a long and protracted struggle. Only during this process will they be able to redefine the objectives and strategy to achieve the goal of their liberation. The passage will be thorny, agonisingly painful and cannot be promised without being drenched in blood and tears. There is no other alternative in sight. Liberation does not come without a cost. They will continue to bleed and to maintain this exploitative system and the gimmickry of the ruling class will continue unabated.
The question that often vexed me was whether being a social liberal in Pakistan also translates ...