Thursday, April 9, 2009

If instability was a sport . . .

"Pakistan aik intehai nazuk mor se guzar raha hai"

Lit:' Pakistan is crossing through an extremely tricky curve,' meaning 'Pakistan is going through tough times.'

This is an extremely popular line in Pakistan, and we get to hear it a lot, usually in official addresses on TV by our presidents or prime ministers. Now it's a common phrase on the lips of almost every politician almost every time they speak.

Instability and Pakistan go hand in hand, so much so that it now feels absolutely normal to be living in an unstable country. We have accepted it as a matter of fact, and do not seem much bothered about it. In the 62 years of Pakistan's short life, we have seen instability of almost every form, shape and kind. First five years were relatively stable under the prime minister-ship of Liaqat Ali Khan, until his assassination in in 1951. From October 1951 to October 1957, six prime ministers were changed in the country, out of which one lasted only for two months.

In 1958, General Ayub Khan took over in a military coup, and ruled the country for over ten years. After his resignation in 1969, General Yahya Khan, another army chief, took over and his two years in office saw the division of the country in 1971 with East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh. This forced Army out of government and Pakistan saw it's first ever elected government under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto after the 1971 general elections. Bhutto's five years were relatively stable only to end in the infamous and controversial elections of 1977. The elections opened a road to another phase of instability and martial law in the country. General Zia Ul Haq threw Bhutto in the gallows and took over as a military dictator. His elevn years are by far the darkest in Pakistan's history. After his death in a plane crash in August 1988, Benazir Bhutto took over as Pakistan's prime minister after winning the elections in December, but only to be thrown out in 1990 after 20 months in office.

Nawaz Sharif was the new elected prime minster after BB's dismissal because of corruption charges. Nawaz didn't last long either and was sacked in April 1993 by the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Benazir's second term started in October the same year, and was dismissed in 1996, again without completing the full fiver year term. Nawaz Sharif's historic victory in 1996 elections, giving him 2/3rd majority in the parliament, gave him the second stint at power. He was ousted by General Musharraf in October 1998 after Sharif's alleged involvement in hijacking General's plane while he was on his way home from Sri Lanka. Mush's first 7 years were quite stable until his decision to dismiss chief justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Cahuhdary, starting country wide protests by lawyers. Before the elections of 2007, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated which made it even more difficult for the General to hold on to power. His party lost the elections in February 2008 and he resigned later that year.

Zardari, alleged to be the most corrupt person in Pakistan and widower of Benazir Bhutto, took over as President in August, which is an act of instability in itself. Since then, we have seen an alarming rise of Talibanization in the north western province of the country bordering with Afghanistan. Taliban now pose a serious threat to the country, and pushed at least one province into extreme instability.

So I can safely conclude that if instability was a sport, we'd certainly be its champions.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Irony - Only that its Goldy and Bronzy !

A call at my cell phone woke me up this morning. It was a call from a clerk in local MEPCO or 'Multan Electric Power Company' office. He's the guy who's been dealing with our applications for electrification of four tube wells at our farm, that I submitted over a year ago. Today he told me that hardware or 'material' , as he refereed to it, of my tube well electrification had finally arrived and I should meet this LS or 'Line Superintendent' in their office to get it released.

I told my father, as he has been pursuing this matter. We went to the office together to meet the clerk and inquired about the process forward. He started narrating a process which could easily take another 3 or more months till I could get my tube wells running, bearing in mind that we have a shortage of irrigation water in Pakistan. And I knew well that he was just making all this up. I got a bit irritated and wanted to go to his higher officer, but my father, with a nod of head, asked my to stay calm.

He (dad) then asked him if there was a shorter way to do it. And of course there was. He said that he would have to 'bend his principles' and would have to 'go out of the way' and 'off the book' to help us and it would cost us. Of course it would. Now I feel very awkward at such situations, though misfit for society.

Anyways, we paid him an X amount of bribe, unfortunately, to get a legitimate and legal work done and he accepted it without even a shadow of shame. He then offered us tea while paper work was being done, that we refused.

After exactly 15 minutes of asking for a bribe, and some 7 minutes of accepting it, he started lecturing us on Islam and morality.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Koi Ummeed Bar Nahi Aati, Koi Surat Nazar Nahi Aati!

With every passing day I'm loosing hope, hope of a secure, peaceful and bright future, if I'll have one at all, in my beloved country - Pakistan.

Every incident (like the one of lashing a 17 year old girl publicly in Swat for liking a boy) instills fear in me. I think of the days, months and years to come.. I think of my own daughter and it gives me shivers, just the thought that what the future might hold for her.

Every news item makes me feel that things have gotten out of hands, that there is just no hope, only fear. And when I see my fellow Pakistanis not realizing this almost certain threat, it saddens me even more.

So I ask myself once again.... Hope - All's lost, Or all that remains?