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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Meet The New Age Lincoln

Original Article: Daily Times
Date Published: July 12, 2012

I often feel a bit envious of someone we all know, and hear about every now and then. Well envious in the sense that it makes me wonder what is so special about what he has to offer in terms of talk that people are willing to pay thousands of dollars for his so-called lectures. The man is completely out of touch with ground realities back home, and continues to harp on old news and tries very hard to justify his coup of 1999. If your guess is our former chief executive/president, a former commando and the head of a political party that is on life support, Abraham ‘Musharraf’ Lincoln, then at least it tells me that you are fully awake while reading my weekly gibberish.

Our dear friend was back in the news again. He was at Aspen, Colorado’ s serene and scenic tourist resort town, attending a festival called the Aspen Festival, along with his family members. He tried convincing the audience that he was the new age ‘Lincoln’. Just like Lincoln, he had to unwillingly resort to an unconstitutional act to save his nation. He was referring to Lincoln’s suspension of haebas corpus in order to, perhaps, snatch people in the name of ‘national security’. The problem with this spin is that most of these people were supposedly shipped to foreign shores for interrogation. To Lincoln’s credit, for what it is worth, there is no such historical account. Don’t know much about the ‘captivated Aspenians’, but it was always an impossible buy for me. Or, if he was referring to his ‘emergency’ of November 2007, then I do not recall a civil war like the one Lincoln was facing in 1861, in our land. I am afraid I will not be able to alter my position, no matter what, even if the new age Lincoln offers a free lecture to me and then as a bonus adds his classical music renditions as well. Personally, I think he should spend more time perfecting his music skills, more than his political ones. That is one talent that he needs to embrace with all seriousness.

It was interesting to note that our ‘desi Lincoln’ made a reference that the people of Pakistan look to the military as a last resort. The event of October 12, 1999 is a completely different subject for another day. I am afraid I do not recall the people of Pakistan sending any SOS messages to our friend on that Colombo to Karachi flight that brought him to power. If saving one’s job by hook or by crook is considered as the voice of the people, then I disagree. Last week, I had touched on one of his predecessors too. General Zia’s takeover was sold to us as the people’s will too. Need I say more than that it was more of his own will, and very much so that his predecessors in uniform fulfilled their naked lust for power, calling it the voice of their people.

The fact of the matter is that we do not have any saviours. Expecting or labelling one, whether military or non-military, is the biggest disgrace to the human intelligence. Human beings are intelligent, regardless of their social strata. The men in khaki of the past have trampled the will of the people and made their way in. Is it me, or has someone noticed and felt this obsession of the khakis of ‘saving Pakistan’. It is their proxy in the political arena, toeing the line of their masters and chanting the same mantra over and over again. All of them very conveniently forget, overlook or pretend that in most armed conflicts, our valiant men have mostly brought shame to our name. When people like me bring this reality to the fore, we are often labelled as ‘sell-outs’, ‘traitors’ and ‘shameless’ and some other names, which cannot be penned here.

Interestingly or ironically, at the same venue was present another former general to give Mr Musharraf some company and perhaps some different perspective. It was General Stanley McChrystal of the US — a man much like Mr Musharraf who was relieved of his duties by an elected executive. Nevertheless, unlike Mr Musharraf, he was aware of his constitutional limits and gracefully accepted his boss’s decision. With its 236-year-old arduous journey, the US has gone through many upheavals and turmoil, but never in his wildest imagination could an American general think of what was heralded as Mr Musharraf’s ‘act of courage’. Very simply speaking, nations cannot be salvaged by dictators. Nations stand on the edifice of a constitution and its regard at all costs. Similarly, nations disintegrate and eventually perish if such crucial regard is compromised repeatedly.

The common cribbing one hears is that who needs the inept, corrupt and good for nothing politicians. I laugh this one off very often as the usual obfuscation of the khaki loyalists. People who have gone through some standardised testing would agree with the faulty logic. Just because some politicians are incapable and unworthy, to brand all politicians in the same category is illogical and inaccurate. Similarly, when this scribe refers to the khakis, his implication is solely towards the ones who disregard the constitutional supremacy and not the ones who offer their lives to keep this nation safe and secure — operating in many unimaginable posts, wearing a uniform, and following orders, so most of us can sleep at night. I will salute all of them, in awe and gratitude, perhaps until my last breath. There is not enough monetary compensation that one can shower on these selfless souls. These people of my land descend from the heights of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or hail from the remotest villages of Punjab — the ‘batmen’, the lance naiks, the subedars and the ordinary sipahis. These are the real heroes. These are the real defenders of the soil.

When people like our dear friend stand in front of the podiums on the world stage and open up the laundry list of the mean and ugly politicians of the land, they often tend to disregard something truly significant. They often disregard these real heroes, who become cannon fodder often due to their follies — be it the battlefields of Dhaka or the frozen posts of Kargil. Many of these brave souls in return do not see, witness or feel what it feels like playing a round of golf at some officers club or how a corner mansion overlooking the lush hills of the capital in some exclusive retired officers’ enclave makes one feel. I will leave you with this parting thought. The hardship and miseries of these poor souls cannot be squarely placed on the shoulders of the infamously corrupt and inept politicians, the ones who are kicked around every night, without fail, on the idiot box and perhaps every minute on the net.

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