Articles of the year 2007

The Shadow of Death
Published on November 03rd, 2007

Benazir is a brave lady, for having survived the horrific trauma of the bomb attack, she is resolute in her blazing return to the squalid world of Pakistani Politics.

Unfortunately she is too deeply set in her ways, of confrontation, and insists on creating opponents sometimes out of nowhere. Her attacks on the Punjabis, and at the Punjab are mystifying in their venom, even before she had boarded her flight to Karachi. She also played her mystery card of writing a letter to Musharraf giving three names of possible assassins. Then, after the bomb she lashed out indiscriminately naming many many people, and her followers multiplied this figure. Realizing that the conspiracy theory has been refined in Pakistan, but its indiscriminate use at this juncture is certainly not bringing about a reconciliatory atmosphere. The retaliation from the CM Sndh, and from the Punjab was swift, and will lead to more acrimony—not less.

The latest stance is that she would prefer her old nemesis Nawaz Sharif to Parvez Elahi and Arbab, indicating that she would get more respect from Nawaz than from the latter two. The retaliatory salvos may have unnerved her followers in Sindh and Punjab, enough to appeal to her guarantors. It would be far better for her to make soothing noises to all and sundry, including the extremists to sit and talk matters through, rather than hurl accusations, which are unfounded as yet.Living in the shadow of death is traumatic in itself, but belligerence towards all, garners goodwill from none.

Benazir has returned to a different Pakistan, from what she left in 1997. The people are better informed, and with the number of Channels, it may be difficult to cope with their probing, even though she is acknowledged as a media master, this may be tougher.She must also stop believing in her own rhetoric, as this has been the downfall of many a political leader, and fooling the Americans is that much easier than your own people. When you have sifted out the position and favour seekers, you are left with very few real contributors. And by not allowing discourse, with her closest not venturing opinions that may upset the leader, the course will be set for a repeat of earlier disasters. Democracy means, just that, a debate on issues, and a decision by many. In History it is a proven that a decision by many is infinitely better than a decision by one. That has been the hallmark of the shift from Kingdoms to Parliaments.

Dismantling the Madrassas is also not feasible, for the service to the Nation is more than a hundred Maulana Edhis can offer. With 1.5 Million children being provided three meals a day and shelter for those whose parents cannot afford to support their children, they are an essential part of our social fabric, and would destroy life for the needy in the areas where it is most needed. Far better to improve the curriculum by including Mathematics, and English for these two subjects would be enough to give the child an opportunity into worlds that are the future, and where the number of books a unlimited. Doc Salam was the product of a Madrassa in Jhang, where his Mathematics, caught the attention of his teachers, eventually getting him the Nobel. With Mathematics on offer in the Madressas many budding Salams could be discovered. Children are the future of any Nation, the madressas should be expanded and assisted by the Governments. However the managements of the Madressas should be taken into confidence, and are not to be dismantled. Civilization is known for the advances it keeps, and not for the books that it burns or the statues it destroys.Unfortunately our leadership believes that the rabble is expendable, and does not matter, and that the loyalty of the Jiyala is the birthright of the leader, even death in service of the leader is to be revered. However with this blind faith, it is incumbent on the leadership to also respond in kind, with direction towards their economic betterment. Which is not happening. Their deprivation is getting worse, and at a time when all the parties should be pulling together Benazir has opted out till the Supreme court's decisions are announced. Do the loyalists deserve this treatment after the sacrifice of over a hundred and fifty of their fellow workers? Has their blood been shed in vain.? It seems this is the true indicator that her priorities are personal rather than political.