All about interests


Came across this article in Daily Times. It was about the CJP issue & i was impressed by the way the writer has conveyed his views in rather a blog-impression style. What impressed me more was his simple way of presentation about a complex political issue without involving too much but yet rather touching few good points. I strongly suggest you to just read BOLD text in the end if in case you don’t have time at hand.

THE OTHER COLUMN: All about interests —Ejaz Haider

Before you bracket me with the venerable beards for not sticking to my word, given publicly, I may take the presumption of apportioning the blame for my reappearance on all the friends who wrote and chided me on my decision, out of which Khalid Hasan stands out, and who I cannot refuse

I was in Islamabad and sitting with friend Sherry Rehman when news came that the Chief Justice of Pakistan had been sacked. Suddenly, there was much activity; phones began ringing (not mine), there was excitement all round and, as is the wont of Isloo-ites, much speculation. Scenarios were constructed — this is going to become big; the regime has shot itself in the foot finally; this is the beginning of the end and so on, the motif being that the action would go down in history as the equivalent of the Boston Tea Party.

I was watching the excitement, sipping my tea and taking deep drags on my cigarette, almost as an outsider. Someone invited my opinion.

“Something can happen, surely; but then something can always happen. The question is: what could that something be?”

The person who had sought my opinion looked at me and, not having done his crypto course, wanted to know what my ‘deeply’ philosophical response meant.

That’s the wrong approach. If you really want to lose the profundity of a statement, make it accessible (inaccessibility, incidentally, is also the sign of great art — if someone can understand it, it is either not art or not great). How could I have said that nothing is going to happen; or at least, that nothing is going to happen in the way the people gathered around would have wished it to happen?

Still, it isn’t good sense not to respond to quizzical looks, especially after one has subjected someone to profundity. So I patiently explained: “Every action leads to some consequences. An action has been taken; it shall lead to something. What that something might be is of course anybody’s guess. But if by something happening you mean that something is likely to happen against the interests of the general-president only, then you might be putting too much premium on optimism.”

The gentleman was not amused.

I understood, settled back in the settee and focused on the tea.

Why?

Because I have seen lots of potential Boston Tea Parties in Pakistan. If even one had worked to our advantage, we would have been the United States. One reason we are not, of course, can be that one already exists and keeps roaring also, I think, to remind us that there can’t be two of the same kind. The other could be that all our Boston Tea Parties are just bad sequels to the original one.

Am still in Islamabad and a fly on the wall tells me the general-president slept quite peacefully after having done the deed. Perhaps Macbeth should have taken a leaf from the general-president’s book.

At one level, all of this is simple enough. If the opposition can get enough people to take to the streets, the political equation would change. But since it can’t, it keeps waiting for something to happen which doesn’t. Deus ex machina was a theatrical device; it doesn’t work in reality and definitely not in Pakistan.

Plus, life is all about interests. The general-president’s do not seem to jibe with that of the opposition and the circus goes on. The opposition gives out the customary statements, the judiciary takes it lying down, as do the citizens, while the gods on Mount Olympus, I believe, are involved too much in their own things. The general-president can have a stiff dram and relax.

But I don’t blame him for watching out for his interests, even if they be misplaced. A few days ago I was at the funeral of my wife’s aunt. Before the funeral prayers, the maulvi rattled off the procedure like the lumpun intellectuals of the Left. He was club-footed but reminded me more of Kaidu from Heer Ranjha than Lord Byron. After the prayers had been offered, I saw some cadet-maulvis from a nearby madrassa rush in and feel disappointed that the funeral prayers had already been offered. The entire procedure belonged to a different world, almost a parallel one to normal life. They then sat down on a mosque floor waiting perhaps for some other ritual to happen so there could be some meaning and excitement in their life.

I felt sympathy for them.

After the burial, the officer-maulvi started reciting verses from the Holy Book. He did it with practised ease, just like he held on to his crutch. Once done with the Arabic part of his ritual he launched into the usual prayer sequence in Urdu, most of which is sickeningly familiar to me. When everything was done and over with, and after we had been reminded by the maulvi that life was fleeting and ephemeral, I accosted him and asked him how much he had been paid for his services. He was uncomfortable but then said he had taken three grand.

It was interesting to see the human side of him, watching his mundane, but vital, interest. He earned his livelihood by leading funeral prayers and telling people that life was short and they should be preparing for death instead. And why not, when death brings him money so he can live.

So, while hacks are going around trying to smell out something and make sense of what is happening, or might, I have decided to write this column once again and feel like Qazi Sahib who said he would resign but did not. Such is life, as the French say. But honestly, dear reader, before you bracket me with the venerable beards for not sticking to my word, given publicly, I may take the presumption of apportioning the blame for my reappearance on all the friends who wrote and chided me on my decision, out of which Khalid Hasan stands out, and who I cannot refuse.

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