Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rats at the Dike

By Anwaar Hussian

It is with deep anguish that one pens what one must pen. There is no pleasure in writing this piece.

Frank Lautenberg, the oldest senator in the United States senate, once said, “One thing I have learned in my time in politics is that if one of the parties is shameless, the other party cannot afford to be spineless.”

On the Pakistani political scene, it is shamelessness and spinelessness all around. With a vile determination and barbarous statecraft, the so called Pakistani leaders have taken turns over the decades to assault the body and spirit of this blighted nation. They have plundered and ravaged it, tore its fabric, blemished it with hideous scars until now when it has become this broken, mournful land swaying like a drunkard in the wind.

Thanks to the bunch of pygmies that have been running the show in Pakistan since its birth, the country is now virtually on the brink of disaster. Perhaps like a leviathan out of the ashes, it can still rise up on its wobbly knees to the challenge but the chances are dim. And that is because Pakistan, gasping for life breaths as it already is, will have to do that with these leaders weighting it down from the throat downward, sucking its lifeblood all that while.

The irony is that the Pakistani leadership, by and large, knows it. They know it not by being some kind of visionaries but by that innate hyena like sense that tells them that the prey is about to fall. They know it by those eerie howls on moonlit nights that they find themselves and their kith and kin baying involuntarily to invite each other to the carcass. They know it by that sudden urge to join the frenzy, that monstrous perversion written indelibly on their genetic code.

That much is what they know.

What we know is something entirely different. Though telling it to them is like throwing water on a duck’s back, for they sit secure in their accepted littleness, one must jot it down nonetheless. Perhaps, if time allows, another crop of our national leadership will heed these words.

What we know is that we do not need leaders like these leading us out of these dire straits. It is impossible in fact. For no one has ever heard of the looters ultimately leading the caravan they had been robbing all along to its final destination.

What we know is that there are three individual values that all national leaders must possess i.e. moral courage, competence, and commitment. That these three values are considered essential for building the trust which must exist for the leadership of a nation. And that all these are alien to the aggressively selfish dwarfs going around as Goliaths in Pakistan.

What we know is that for the nation its leaders’ moral courage is much more important than their physical courage for it is this form of courage that will make them stand firm on their values, their ethical principles, and their convictions. That it takes special courage to support unpopular decisions and to make it difficult for others to do the wrong thing. That the ‘others’ may push them to offer a ‘slightly’ unscrupulous solution as the easiest or most expedient way. That we expect them not to do that; to stand up for their beliefs and what they know is right. And that if they believe they are right after sober and careful judgment, they should hold their position and keep on coming. What we also know is that such fine distinctions are foreign to their wicked nature. They consider these to be an affront to their ancestral creed.

What we know is that a duty is a legal or moral obligation to do what should be done without being told to do it. That duty means accomplishing all the tasks to the fullest of one’s ability. That it requires willingness to accept full responsibility for one’s actions. That if one lies or tells a half-truth to make one’s own self or one’s party look good, it may be called being loyal to the leader and the party, but in fact it is being dishonorable and unethical, neglecting one’s duty to the nation that has the first claim on that office. That, to put it in even simpler terms, a leader just cannot truly do his duty without being honorable. What we also know is that these ‘leaders’ laugh in our faces for holding such ‘idiotic’ ideals, calling it a babbling gossip.

What we know is that national leaders must put the nation’s welfare ahead of their own interests. That they must resist the temptation to put self-gain, personal advantage, and self-interests ahead of what is best for the nation. That as leaders, in fact, they must be the greatest servants. That their offices and position are not personal rewards. That they earned them so that they can serve their nation. What we also know is that for cherishing such standards, right now they are silently saying ‘go climb a pole’ and suggesting that we read their lips.

What we know is that whether they like it or not, they are on display at all times. That their actions say much more than their words. That the nation watches them carefully and is likely to imitate their behavior. That they must accept the obligation to be worthy role models and that they cannot ignore the effect their behavior has on the nation. That they themselves must be willing to do what they require of their countrymen. What we also know is that in their midnight congregations, when the truth serum rages wildly through their veins, they damn us for holding close such values and bawl out their midnight howls to show their contempt for us.

After having written all these lines, I now have in my mind’s eye the mug shots of the Zardaris, the Makh-Dooms, the Nawazes, the Hotis, the Raisanis, the Fazl-ur-Rehmans, the Adbullah Shahs, the countless feudal landlords and the many Generals of my unfortunate country. It instantly brings to my mind what Edmund Burk once said, “By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation.”

Here is a whole rat pack at the dike. How much time does Pakistan have?

(The writer is a free lance writer & a blogger).

NOTE:This is a cross post.


  1. Yes, but what is the remedy? We know all that. Words are different lament is the same.

    Khalid Iqbal

  2. Mail by Mr Malik:Mr Anwar Hussain
    you have said it all
    Most times it is a sorrowful and helpless rage that grips ones throat to shout and shout loud - But then the shameless have no affect and the pillage continues unabated. The voices of deception perhaps feeds them with lies and damn lies that they are the heart throb of the nation. The naivity also leads them to hide behind the photo of the slain leader as if it were a wailing wall. What a democracy, what a poetic justice!

  3. Mail by Mr M Bajwa:
    Rats on the Dike by Anwar Hussain is pretty woolly stuff and shows the frustration of the right wing middle class intelligensia. Actually you watch it on TV everyday.

    To transform a feudal and tribal society into a modern nation state needs more than idealism. You need to transform the economy as the Chinese or now Indians are doing. Otherwise you are just beating your wings in the air !


  4. Mail by Mr Khan Zia:

    What exactly is achieved by writing such lament other than demoralising people more than they already are? If the hope is to shame the leaders into changing their ways it is a naive and forlorn one. A change is possible only through action and example, not empty words backed by little else. People will only pay attention only if there is credible evidence that the proponent is doing something more than dispensing gratuitous advice.

  5. Mail by Mr Javed Chaudhry:
    We may be watching the recklessness of the politicians daily on Pakistan TV and yet the shameless political party in power is bent upon staying shameless while the opposition parties are no better. The opposition parties are not just spineless but equally shameless, they would not do any different or better if they were at the helm.

    No meaningful change can be brought forward until a few good people get to the top and stop the plunder and take necessary steps to improve industrial output, create means of power generation, reduce the corruption and lawlessness, get out of the USAID programmes, get out of the American war on terror – the important steps which are overdue for some six decades.

    The poor people of the unfortunate country can hardly see an improvement with the administration that believes in rental power generation system in the interest of kickbacks. The industry owners including food processing plants are mostly owned by those who are also the legislators. The poor public is facing a profit making mafia that runs the country for their own gains rather than the national interests.

    There is at least one way to bring a change without shedding blood. The public can observe civil disobedience and force another election. For the election, they must not vote for those who have been in the business of politics in the past. Changing the party is not an answer to the current Pakistani problems. The whole crew (almost 99.9% of them) who have been in politics are corrupt or incompetent or both. Removing PPP and putting in power (for example) ML-N will not solve any problem. All those who have money, influence and have been in politics for several years are nothing but Feudal Lords – they can only be removed from the political equation if the public is aware and fully determined not to vote for any of them. If this cannot be done then, either there will be no desirable change at all or the change can only be brought through bloodshed only as happened in France a few centuries ago.


  6. Mail by LOK SANGH:
    But for any revolutionary change, masses need to see a distinctly different leadership to lead them during and after the revolution.
    Shahid Zia

    Kissan Dharti
    642 St 46 G-9/1 , Islamabad, Pakistan
    Ph+92-51-2255242, 2255248
    Regional offices: Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Tobatek Singh, Layyah, Rawalakot

  7. I think its a very well written article . The speaks of the false sense of peace , which is more like a lull before the storm.
    it may sound more morbid, but the truth is that such are the conditions which have historically invited external aggression.
    A case in point is a must read ,and very interesting book 'Obama' war'.
    With the president of united states name affixed ,it is a piece of literature to be taken very seriously , for it indicates the shape of things to come and the American perception of our leadership ,including the military .
    As regards the negative ambiance of the article which Yasmin has eluded to , what is there to celebrate or feel positive and confident, about , even for the very tomorrow.
    The content of the article is similar to the laments of the numerous Semitic prophets in prehistory and history,who warned and spoke of the fall of the walls of Jerusalem .
    Unfortunately we are no way even close to the stature of Jerusalem, where soon , due to the crimes of the rulers, the owls made homes , and the jackals roamed !!

  8. Mail from Javed Chaudjry in reply to Lok Sangh:
    I agree, you are quite correct – people must be in a position to assess the incumbent politicians before voting. But, is that not an impossibility in a country where 60% people cannot even write their own names and they cast the vote only going by the picture on the ballet box?

    The universal suffrage, which is a necessary democratic requirement in the developed societies, is indeed an impediment for a country such as Pakistan where illiteracy is a universal phenomenon. The paid workers of the rich feudal lords round up all the illiterate villagers and the city dwellers, transport them in trucks and buses to the polling stations, offer a square meal, a bottle of coke, perhaps a few rupees and tell them what picture to look for on the ballot box when voting. How do you think the bunch of illiterates are going to vote in any rational way? BB’s assassination is a good example, the masses voted for PPP out of pity, and now every one is suffering – look who became the head of the party with the power of a hand written will. So, the party is not a public owned political party to serve the country, but a family dynasty conducting its money making business owned by the family share holders.

    The political parties that do not observe democracy within their own organizations cannot deliver democracy to the 175 million innocent but dumb public? Politics is a big business in Pakistan; they invest by the crores of rupees to get their cronies elected, then they all work together to recover the investment and make lot more for themselves. The only losers in this game plan are the poor public of Pakistan.

    I have drawn a clear picture of what goes on as far as the political parties are concerned. Now the question is how to get rid of the useless political parties and the Feudal Lords who run them? Any ideas?


  9. Even a laurret and intellect like Javed Chaudhry concludes his lines with same confusing statement..."I have drawn a clear picture of what goes on as far as the political parties are concerned. Now the question is how to get rid of the useless political parties and the Feudal Lords who run them? Any ideas?"
    Chaudhry sb: With due share of respects, If You think You Know it All, Do not ask for ideas just give your ideas. Otherwise wait and see..let the time take its own course of action. i am afraid Highligting problems without solutions means implicating problems and causing more and more frusteration to the common illiterate mind striving to survive in miseries.