Apr 272008

After the failure of the first Nawaz-Zardari meeting on the judges’ issue in Islamabad last week, a newspaper correspondent wrote that it seemed that Asif Zardari had learned no lessons from his long ordeal and is still wedded to his “bad old ways”. Wow! If he expected Zaradri to become a saint in prison he should have his head examined. Better still, he should ask to be sent to jail for seven years so that can show Zardari how to become a saint. It’s not as easy as that. Normal humans are fallible bar a few lucky ones, full of flaws – demons of the mind and weakness of the heart. It’s difficult to be a saint; it’s easy to be judgmental.
Zardari is in a bind. He balks at the reinstatement of the errant judges, especially their chief, for he thinks, almost certainly correctly, that it will be bad for him. But if they don’t get reinstated Nawaz might walk out of the coalition, make life impossible for him in the Punjab, grow in opposition and win the next elections. Nawaz Sharif too is in a bind. He knows that the judges’ return will be bad for the president, who is his real target. That it might also be bad for Zardari is a bonus, for it will get a competitor for his “throne” out of the way. So there could be a triple benefit for him – the president gone, Zardari neutered and himself cock of the walk. But if they don’t get reinstated and he walks out, Zardari could get into bed with Musharraf’s Q-League and he could lose Punjab the “bastion of power”. If Nawaz only withdraws his ministers but remains on the treasury benches he will start losing the high moral ground that fate handed him out of the blue. That all this unnecessary confusion is bad for Pakistan is neither here nor there. The country – because of which they are what they are – is not on anyone’s radar screens. If it had been “we” would not have been where we are.
Its self-interest for the sake of power, stupid! Just as countries do everything in their self-interest, so do people, particularly politicians. Morality, as old Henry Kissinger said, doesn’t come into the equation. Zardari is doing what he is doing in his interest. Ditto Nawaz. An early election after becoming a hero on the backs of the judges, neutering Zardari and knocking out the president suits him just fine. He is saying the populist things that people want to hear – “We too are against terrorism but not at the cost of our people” he claims to have told Negroponte. Zardari too is playing a clever game, trying to find a way out of the judges’ issue that satisfies the president, Nawaz and him all at the same time. Good luck! A bipartisan committee will try to conjure up a formula – restore the judges but retain the present ones, reduce retirement age and take away the powers of the chief justice to whimsically and vengefully encroach on the domains of other branches of government, as the deposed chief justice was doing. Why, he was even encroaching on the domain of the Civil Aviation Authority! With things having got this far (“Where were they?” asks Zardari, citing instances when the Supreme Court was somnambulant while he, his wife and his in-law’s party were in trouble and earlier when his father-in-law was hanged) the judges stand demeaned, the issue has lost its momentum, lawyer’s leaders seem apologetic and the lawyers look spent and divided.
The removal of the graduation bar on public office holders from president to provincial parliamentarians was also done in self-interest, not because it was undemocratic, for if that had been the reason it would have been removed before the elections, not before the by-elections, to enable certain “‘ineligible” people to win. I am not suggesting that it has been done only for Asif Zardari (like the NRO) as most people think, for I don’t know for sure whether he is a graduate or not, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t. But that is neither here nor there. What is relevant is that our leaders should understand the difference between literacy, education, knowledge and wisdom. More importantly, they need to understand the difference between functional and dysfunctional education – put simplistically, the latter means reading without understanding. The problem is that many of our lawmakers suffer from dysfunctional education themselves, even some of the Oxford-Cambridge types. If you set so much store by a piece of paper called a degree, then you are betraying your inability to understand the difference between education and knowledge and knowledge and wisdom and effectively disqualifying many of the greatest leaders and statesmen the world has ever known. Knowledge can come in an instant – “…and I gave him knowledge” was God’s third act after creating Adam “from susurrating clay” and blowing His spirit into him. What better education can there be than that? Alas! God forgot to hand Adam a graduation degree so he could contest elections in Pakistan.
What do you think Mairaj was all about, the night when Muhammad (PBUH) ascended to Heaven and got a tutorial from the Almighty in an instant? Or Lailatul Qadr, the Night of Power, the night equal to a thousand nights when the angels descend to the lowest heavens on one of the days of Ramadan? That was the night when the Quran in its entirety descended into the soul of the Prophet (PBUH) and he became the Quran himself, the ultimate momin, the perfect Muslim. I believe that it was this that is behind Iqbal’s famous verse, “Yeh baat kissi ko nahin maloom keh momin; Qari nazar aata hai haqeeqat mein hai Quran” – “No one knows the secret that though the momin looks like the reciter, in reality he is the Quran.” Understanding too can come in an instant, like a penny dropping. As Sairaj Aurangabadi said, “Voh ajab ghari thi keh mein jis ghari, liya dars nuskha-e-ishq ka; keh kitab aql key taaq par jiyoon pari thi tyoon hee dhari rahi” – “It was a wondrous moment when in an instant I received the lesson of Love; and the book of logic remained on the shelf where it had been lying.” Or, as Iqbal tells us, fired with Love (Faith) Abraham jumped into Nimrod’s fire while “logic stood by watching the spectacle dumbfounded.” But in this day and age of pure self-interest, who has time for understanding God’s poetry, leave alone the poetry of mere mortals? School gives the tools to acquire education. University imparts education. Knowledge comes with reading, listening and self-education. Wisdom comes from within, from experience, thinking, analysing and controlling the ego. I once said that, “wisdom doesn’t wear a suit.” Not even a designer suit. “Especially” not a designer suit.
God’s poetry is all around us – in the dance of the cosmos, the balance of the universe, the twinkling of the stars, the genetic code of our DNA, the song of the Nightingale, the whistling of the wind, the smile of a child, the blossoming of a flower, the stillness of the desert, the silence on a mountaintop, the darkness of a cave… If only we had eyes that see and ears that hear and intellect that understands. That requires stepping out of the rat race and getting “far from the madding crowd”, for they dull the senses. Then self-interest will be replaced by helping people wherever and whoever they are, high and low, weak and mighty, even those that hate you; empty slogans will be replaced by “mujhay hai hukm-e-azan La Illaha Il Allah” – “I have been Commanded to proclaim: Truth! There is no god but God!” We have all these strengths, and more, for God is within each one of us, “closer than your jugular”, which is why the great Punjabi mystic poet Bullay Shah said, “Why do you search for Him in the wilderness? Look for Him in your heart.” If only we could bring all these God-given powers to bear. That requires wisdom.
Where does self-interest come from – I mean a healthy national self-interest that some countries have and others don’t, not the greed-driven, power-seeking self-interest of individuals. Obviously, it comes from national pride and self-esteem. Where do they come from? Faith, from which springs ideology and a set of beliefs and values from which flow destination (Ka’aba) and direction (Qibla) – objective and the difficult road less trodden upon. From that flow a sense of identity, pride and self-esteem – khudi. I don’t know why I am in such a poetic mood today, but didn’t Iqbal say, “Immerse yourself in your heart to discover the secret (purpose) of life and become true to yourself even if you cannot be true to me.” When a people cannot hear man’s poetry, what chance is there that they will hear God’s poetry and see His Presence? What chance is there that they will have eyes and intellect to see themselves, that they are driven only by greed and self-interest, accumulating things none of which they will take to their graves except their knowledge, deeds and intentions?
E-mail: hgauhar@nation.com.pk
Source: The Nation, 27/4/2008

 Posted by at 8:27 am

  One Response to “The poetry of God – Humayun Gauhar”

  1. It is easy to cast aspersions and Mr. Gauhar’s article is a bold step in this direction.

    While it is easy to proclaim as self-less, it is rather difficult to see what type of bind are in and who have created them.

    Both Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif are trying their utmost to be on the same wavelength and sort out the legal mess created by PM. My hear goes out as these gentlemen are examining all options, including full reinstatement of deposed judges, despite all of the turmoil which can ensue whatever decisions they reach.

    Let’s hope that both of these gentlemen reach a compromise solution and bring Pakistan into the amity of nations through an independent judiciary.

    I have every hope that they will succeed.

    Zaheer Khan

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