Daily Archives: September 8, 2010

Goodbye, Mr. Hobbes

This is an incisive article sent to us byFeroz Khan. It argues that although the current year has been perhaps the worst in the living memory but signs are showing that  the society is transforming for the better.

By Feroz Khan

In many respects, the year 2010 has been Pakistan’s worst annus horribilus since independence. The floods, which swept through the country, seemed to have dredged up the worst behavior of its politicians and the lowest denominators of its public expressions, as witnessed in the mob rule in Sialkot. The flood waters crested in the humiliation of the entire nation, before the world, in the moral failure of its cricket athletes, when they apparently became victims of their own avarice. The present year of our national discontent did not happen by chance or misfortune, but had been gestating in the womb of a collective denial soothed by the words of an empty lullaby of hypocrisy.  In the wake of the natural and moral disasters which swamped us, voices were raised, which in turn were indignant and resentful, wondering and questioning the fate that had befallen on us as a nation and as a people.

The reality of our misery and the cause of our suffering is more benign than any tribulation of the heavens or any imagined conspiracies of the gods, because it is our own sense of responsibility, which is so estimable on a general level and so wretched on an individual basis that is at the root of our problems.  The reason we, as a nation, are the object of scorn and are despised as a people, is that we have substituted our sense of a civic responsibility for an ethereal pleasure of an amoral social hedonism made more intoxicated by the strong wine of personal apathy. What we do not seem to understand is that these series of ill omens, which have staggered us and has left us confused, is only the beginning of our national gloom of despondency and these bad tidings will not end until, we as a people, by a supreme effort decide to resist them and in the process, change ourselves as a people and a nation.

As we plod our way from the devastation of the floods and pick up the pieces of a life discarded, we will have to look into the abyss of doubts and ask ourselves, whether we are capable and have the required moral courage within us that will allow us to resurrect  ourselves as a people.  We should not deceive ourselves with false promises and reassure ourselves with hollow words, because we, as a people and as a nation, are in dire straits. The social contract which binds the legitimacy that existed between a people and its government has been shredded and our politicians have been proven as a failure in the manner in which they reacted to the public expectations. The image of our president, waltzing off to his Cinderella castle, while his people scrounged for a piece of dry land to escape a merciless nature, indelibly sealed the signature of political indifference upon the expectations of the people.

The failure of politics, in the monsoon drenched summer of 2010, was spectacular. To understand this loss of hope, between a people and its representatives, we need to delve beyond our favorite scapegoats. We need to look at the reasons governments are created and the source from which they derive their just powers to govern and these reasons have nothing to do with ideals of John Locke. The simple truth is that governments are created to offer an illusion of hope, to its people, and to reaffirm their faith in the continuity of a future, which is stable, predictable and comforting. This illusion, then, creates a sense of security and from it comes the formal legitimacy of the government to rule over a people, where the people agree to give up their natural and inalienable rights to life in return for the government’s protection of that particular right.

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Floods in Pakistan – A letter by A Desai to Dawn

Isa Daudpota has shared this letter which was sent to daily DAWN. This is the best piece I have read so far on floods and Indo-Pak relations. Raza Rumi

An Indian’s view of Pakistan is clouded by the Bombay attacks and the cricket scandal; a Pakistani’s view of India is no doubt similarly clouded by Kashmir and Gujarat. The floods in Pakistan, however, remind us in India that Pakistanis are human too. The tragedy is an immediate one, and is capable of an immediate solution. It is also a local one. Pakistan’s breadbasket is the Punjab; while it has been affected by the floods, there is a lot of it which has not. The Indus has caused most of the damage; the other five rivers are not so much in the news. Besides, though the floods will reduce the kharif, they will lead to a bumper rabi crop. If India had any sense, it would ship 10 million tons of grain now to Pakistan instead of letting it rot. If Pakistan had any sense, it would borrow 10 million tons from India and promise to pay it back next May. And it would buy drugs for cholera and diarrhoea, the immediate medical threats, from Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers, who are the cheapest in the world.

– An Indian

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