THE groundbreakings of Diamer-Bhasha Dam and Kohala Hydropower project and Mohmand Dam are landmark developments for water storage, flood mitigation, irrigation and generation of cheap and clean energy after a long frustrating break of over five decades. Most sadly, intervening period went down the drain, marked with expediencies, indifference and sloth by self-seeking leadership however, there also remained public apathy and helplessness which helped in attainment of their evil designs. Ironically, stone laying of these projects have been performed by a man who is constantly under the butt of contempt and disapproval on one pretext or the other. In an aimless fad, vigorously as well as casually, we are trying to portray him an outright incompetent and clueless man at instigation of same unsavoury lot who have robbed our future.
There is one thing more irresistible before moving further. This is commitment of his government to inquire into every scandal, inimical to collective good and make it public. It is again a breathtaking development in a country where every foul, perpetuated by ruling elite was kept under wraps. This act reminds about pristine age of Islam where uprightness and sanctity of law prevailed albeit it is a first step and has to go a long way to achieve the ultimate end. Notwithstanding their immense importance for socio-economic development and rule of law, both initiatives failed to fetch adequate public attention and spotlight on media screen. This is reflective of our sorry state in which we are passing through and impelled me to pen down this discourse.
Without fear of doubt and contradiction, there is no space left for second opinion about abiding conduct of our ruling elite. The plunder and treachery are inseparable particles of their chemistry. They could stoop to any low to satisfy insatiable desires of theirs and their progenies for power and material possession. They have wrecked everything under their watch which could obstruct their way. These include law, justice, institutions and wealth of the country. In process, people got reduced to rubbles and repeatedly gave them wild cards electorally to ransack them mentally, morally and materially. Consequently, as a whole, we stand hallow on these scores. Intellectually, people lost the ability to sift slogans from reality and discriminate between wrong and right.
Time in and time out, wickedly, crooked elite calls them highly awake people to keep them in good humour and blissfully, they also believed so. In reality, largely, at best, stuff of their awareness is superficial. It is evident from the fact that they called a swindler/upstart Zardari, Nelson Mandela. This was an absolute insult to actual Mandela. He must have rolled in his grave for such an absurd equation. A chicken hearted Nawaz Sharif is called a lion. He has always shown his back in adversity but generosity of people continues unabated. Morally we have weakened alarmingly. We vociferously speak against moral ills but embrace them readily if fraction of them suits to our convenience. Most glaring example is falsehood in which we trade freely even for petty gains. Honesty is no more best policy. The character building is no more special burden of our society. Materially, we again smell too rotten. Its ugliest picture, world saw in coronavirus pandemic when we gleefully fleeced the humanity at sky-high price. Without qualm, our business community makes cartel to suck dry rich and poor alike.
The cumulative effect of above, has left us with a mindset/behaviour which favours those who brought us to this impasse. We have grown exceedingly clever but equally unwise. Its abject manifestation is seen when there is some hiccup in flow of traffic. Instead of waiting in line, we quadruple the lines if space allows even scantly. The net result is a total traffic jam, causing loss to all. Such a mindset has rendered us greedy and grasping. We fondly hope for lotteries. In a rat race, we have also become susceptible to easy compromise/way-out even on clumsy grounds. This is much more on the cards if it on national expense/cost of others. This is what is happening with change of Imran Khan.
Along with him, people clamoured for change. Admittedly, under him, change is not finding its feet for plethora of reasons. Some are of his own making and many are products of others. The opposition to change is stiff and united within and without. All have ganged up against him for a last ditch battle. After finding no support from powerful quarters, they have now pinned hope on impatience of people and appear to be optimistic. They see fair possibility owing to their propensity to quick fixes. In league with partisan media, they are exploiting this weakness maximally. Unfortunately, people have once again started seeing saviours among proven hounds. The frustration of impoverished people is understandable. In case of middle class/above, it is nothing but unintended expression of above cited psyche of even accepting window dressing if actual one is hard to come by regardless of heavier cost it may extract later. They need to understand that change is never easy. It ought to encounter formidable opposition. Often it is a marathon devoid of short cuts. This is no time for resignation. This is time to stand up and be counted if they want to secure their future. An easy option may/may not give them half loaf but surely no bread next time or earlier if we accept past a guide. The choice is ours.
— The writer, a retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.