Fear, Loathing, and the NRO

Farrukh Khan’s column in today’s Daily Times may be the best analysis of the post-NRO political climate that has been written to date. The reason is that that author appeals to his reader’s sense of perspective from the psychology of the common man, not through the lens of political rivalries and power struggles. This is something that is sorely missing from the discussion, and I’m glad he hasfinally introduced it into the discussion. His conclusion, that the political discussion has become clouded by our emotions, should make us take a step back and evaluate the current situation and think about whether or not our own opinions are too much being influenced by our emotions and not our rational thinking.

When the three fears are brought together you can understand our political dilemmas too. Everyday I come across someone complaining that the president is talking too much of the conspiracies from the invisible forces. Then the prime minister’s example is given, who refuses to admit that something at all nefarious is afoot. Why this stark contrast, I am asked and I have to control my grin with much effort. Is it not obvious folks? The monkey tamasha staged during and after the NRO hearing by the media persons must have given those in power silent chills. How we ever came up to struggle for the independence of the judiciary is beyond my comprehension. Otherwise it clearly seems that we media-wallas consider ourselves judge, jury and executioner at the same time. Consider our opening lines regarding the NRO case: “Mulk ki looti hui daulat keh cases” (the cases pertaining to the looted wealth of the nation). The hearing, if I am not wrong, was about the Ordinance that gave amnesty to those who were being tried in the courts after these accusations. Not only did we then conclude that the national wealth was actually robbed but that too by the very accused.

So is it not natural for the one being treated as the chief accused to feel paranoid, especially when he has lost his wife and father-in-law to the very conspiracies? And as for the prime minister, who enjoys better rapport with other elements of the state and is not being implicated in the NRO debate, perhaps knows things a tad bit better and does not see any lethal hidden motives. Our army, opposition and the judiciary then might also be suffering from the fear of the unknown. There exists regarding the consecutive PPP tenures enough propaganda that the one inhaling it might be seriously worried about the future of the country.

This is the paradigm of fear that extensively explains the politics of the Islamic republic. Let me now turn to the paradigm of love where I will try to overturn Freud’s judgements. Without going into the details of the mechanics of love, I can say with full confidence that true love does exist and true hatred does not. Hatred, like evil, to me is the absence of love, trust and the fear of the unknown. If you love your country and your people deeply enough to actually care for their future, your own future of course becomes a secondary consideration. And here I believe none of my nation’s leaders fails me. Then where lies the actual problem? I think in the above mentioned compulsions of society. One of our social conventions is that a leader is supposed to have a coterie of sycophants around him. And this bureaucracy of mediocrity works on you in eerie ways to manufacture consent. Politicians are told that they will have no future if they do not turn belligerent.

Contrary to others I never considered the Charter of Democracy (CoD) a desperate bid to survive by two marginalised politicians. I considered it a serious effort to undo the wrongs of the past. Check my writings of the time and you will know that I never believed the confrontation between the superior courts and Musharraf was the judiciary’s attempt at self-preservation. Likewise, the army’s distancing from Musharraf was not an act of dumping a liability but a serious desire to learn from history. And for a while all these forces struggled together in harmony. Please give us back that spirit and allow us to live with the distinct pride in our leadership. A part of our sociology is the desire to leave behind a legacy. But by stamping out a few fear-related irritants, our current leadership can leave behind a legacy that will never be forgotten. So let us shun the assigned roles of society and rise above the tide of history to make a difference.

We are living in very trying times. While we have the first democracy in decades, we also have lingering doubts and fears from so many years under the rule of dictators. Unfortunately, these cannot be swept away with a jharu and a smile. Actually, they sit in our minds and make us doubt ourselves undeservedly. Likewise, these fears and doubts hold us back from making greater progress. They make us defensive and closed when we should be open. They make us distrustful when we should be reaching out a hand of partnership.

Farrukh Khan makes an excellent argument, and I for one will be spending some time today considering how my own personal emotions may be clouding my judgment on issues. I will also take to mind his hope and faith that our political climate will smooth itself and the country will make greater progress. There are already signs of this in the calls by Nawaz and other opposition figures to support the democractic government and processes. Let us hope these trends continue.

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