It may happen that you will hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that you will love a thing which is evil for you. God knows, and you know not.-Al-Quran (2:216).
The inquisition ended before the impeachment could begin. Pervez Musharraf belongs to history now. History, however, is rarely accurate. It depends on who writes it. Only the Almighty is the final judge. He knows best.
Nothing is permanent, except the Almighty. All things come to an end, good or bad. Let the dead past bury its dead. Let those who belong to it worry about it. Look to the present – and the future. The new question now is: Musharraf may belong to history, but where does Pakistan belong? Where will it belong in a year? Where will it belong when the biggest of all the post-Cold War convulsions yet to come has consumed itself and the world finds a new equilibrium? Alive and kicking, on life support or… The answer lies in the hands of two unlikely men. Can they rise to the occasion? We won’t have long to wait. They have played the game before and failed under much easier circumstances. This is not a facetious statement. The victors have always reshaped the world after the end of every world war. The Cold War was actually the Third World War, the longest in history. The instant it was over the map of the world started changing. The Soviet Union collapsed into numerous independent states, some still in the process of being shaped, others yet to find equilibrium. Germany, divided after World War II, got reunified as the Cold War petered out. East Europe found new shape and new doctrines. The process has still neither peaked nor culminated, not until those countries of the Middle East, South Asia and Africa that were crafted by the victorious colonisers after the first two World Wars are reshaped again to meet the needs and demands of the new victor.
After the First World War we saw the emergence of Saudi Arabia, modern Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, the seeds of Israel were sown with the Balfour Declaration… After the Second World War came rapid decolonisation and we saw the emergence of Pakistan and later Bangladesh, a new India itself, Israel, the emergence of a victorious and independent communist China, so many African countries with their borders drawn in straight lines cutting across tribes…Both times the victors parcelled out the world amongst themselves, especially the division of the European spoils, with east Europe going to the communist Soviet bloc and west Europe to the capitalist US bloc. Now there is only one victor, so it is easier to refashion the world to his needs, with no tiresome allies to share the spoils with. But this will never bring peace: it never has, it never will. Peace will only come when the obvious choice finally dawns on the world: co-existence or no existence. This is the context in which the latest rulers of Pakistan have to operate.
It is good that Musharraf decided not to fight it out. He could have used strong-arm methods constitutionally and legally. But the country would have gone into a greater tailspin; greater perhaps than it’s fragile unity could bear. His was a decision based on wisdom. He left with dignity after making a dignified speech. I am particularly happy because finally a suggestion of mine has been accepted: don’t abort the learning process again. The people have sown their seeds. Now they have to reap the harvest. This is the imperative. Else they won’t move on. Unless they do, they will never learn to sow better seeds to reap a better harvest in future. It’s called growing up, evolving, maturing. Who said it’s not a painful process? If an entity is genetically strong, not only will it survive, it will also grow stronger and more vital through trial and tribulation. If not, it will die along the way anyway, whatever you do. That’s the way it is. The graveyards of the world are littered with the debris of civilisations, empires, superpowers and states long gone.
Given the ground realities, the new leaders of Pakistan will be tested soon, and tested heavily. It is Mr Zardari’s right to be the next president because the people gave his party the most seats. He deserves it and the people deserve him. But will he give up politics to become neutral or will he appoint someone else to be our next Head of State as President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Navy and Air Force and symbol of the unity of the Federation and continuity of the State? As the people’s living conditions deteriorate with rising prices, as gas and electricity become increasingly scarce and more expensive, and as the security situation worsens, with large swathes of the country outside the government’s writ and under the control of warlords and terrorists of various hues, as some areas already are, the army will again be asked, from within and without, to intervene and stop the rot, even if it is not inclined to. But history has shown that the army can stop the rot only for a time. The process that is programmed in a nation’s genes and a country’s DNA can only be delayed, not halted or reversed. That can only happen in the very rare event that there is a revolution.
Thus they should not waste time in chasing relatively irrelevant issues driven by huge egos. The first and foremost priority is to provide security to the citizens and the wherewithal for a decent survival at the very least. When one reads about fathers committing suicide because they cannot feed their children, mothers selling their toddlers for a pittance out of sheer hopelessness, hundreds of families left without breadwinners because of the satanic doings of terrorists, the fate of a handful of judges pales into insignificance, or hounding Pervez Musharraf for that matter just to satisfy bloodlust. Those who wish to hound him should remember Jesus: “He who is without sin should cast the first stone.” And they should also remember what God has said in the Quran: “I bestow honour on whom I wish and dishonour on whom I wish.”
The entity we call Pakistan and which is dearer to us than life itself can only be saved by three means. One, a revolution led by men with depth, vision and a native but coherent ideology and with the people behind them. Our genes have shown no such propensity. The second is to submit to America entirely. Forget Kashmir, recognise Israel, give up all nuclear assets and downsize your armed forces to a token level. Then see how the mare goes. But first decide whether there is self-esteem in this. The third and preferred path to salvation lies in wisdom. Wisdom demands that regardless of numbers, our rulers should put aside their differences and get together to form a national government in which every region, province, ethnicity, language and sect is represented to work together to take the country out of the perfect storm it is engulfed in. Sadly, wisdom is also something that has passed us by entirely, more even than our propensity to revolution.
The Greeks said, “Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.” Our people are not mad; they are desperate. They are desperate because the choices before them are all anchored in past military regimes, their leaders (and their continuation) born of military patronage. If they had a fresh new choice anchored in the people, without doubt they would decide sensibly. There is vacuum for a new political force to emerge and fill, a force that is anchored in a native ideology and rooted in the land and its people. “Let there be a community from among you that invites to all that is good, and enjoins the doing of what is [known by common sense and sound minds to be] right, and forbids the doing of what is [known by common sense and sound minds to be] wrong, and it is they who attain to success.” [3:104]. This is advice from the Almighty to form groups, associations, political parties and the like to take the initiative to invite people to the good, enjoin them to get on the correct path and forbid that which is evil. This is also one of the prime duties of rulers and leaders.
Sh’ar means path that leads to water, the source of life. When in trouble, seek guidance from that pure and pristine spring from which the River of God flows. “And incline not toward those who do wrong, lest the Fire should touch you, and you have no protectors other than Allah, nor you would then be helped.” (11:113).
“And devour not one another’s possessions wrongfully, nor offer them to those who rule, so as to wrongly and knowingly devour what is owned by others.” (2:188).
This verse on corruption applies not just to rulers but also as importantly, if not more, to the ruled as well, to those who corrupt rulers. Punishment equally harsh awaits the corrupters and those who spread corruption through the land by corrupting rulers by seducing them and exploiting their weaknesses.
The writer is a professor and a political analyst.
Source: The Nation, 24/8/2008