By Taha Kehar
The esteemed Urdu poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, has expressed the melancholy surrounding the concept of seclusion in a poem entitled Tanhaee. Strangely enough, his work is a pertinent representation of the post-flood scenario that has gripped Pakistan with a fist of iron. As attempts at rehabilitation at an administrative level continue in vain, the flood victims are still waiting to receive Watan Cards and remunerate flood-related losses.
But can we blame the government for its obvious ineffectiveness in this context? In a sense, the legacy of corruption is the prime target for all dissension against administrative incompetence. And yet, this argument has become far too clichéd to hold any relevance in explaining and resolving problems.
Therefore, the failure of the government in competently issuing Watan Cards goes to show how it has created a bogus system which mirrors the Occidental Welfare system to deceive the masses and reduce any threat to its own existence and stability.
PM Gilani’s speech in Dadu on Friday, 19th November, 2010, is yet another addition to this game. He has garbed the reality of the Watan Card dilemma as a threat to “democratic stability” when it directly impacts the impoverished victims of flooding more severely. More importantly, PM Gilani has also lauded the contributions made by Turkey in enabling rehabilitation efforts and has thus, quite convincingly, used this platform to strengthen foreign relations. However, no justifiable attempt has been made to explain how the acquired funds are to be used for the betterment of the flood-victims. Hence, what would otherwise have been a reassuring tactic and – on a deeper level – a strategy at improving foreign relation, comes forth as unpersuasive.
In the month of October, there have been various controversies surrounding the issuance of Watan Cards. It has become exceedingly difficult to acquire a Watan Card. Mob tendencies have intensified as a result of which the constabularies have been forced to take extreme action. The events that led to the death of one man when police personnel issued a baton-charge in the Shehr Sultan region of South Punjab, exemplifies the extremities of such a reaction.
Despite the violent reaction shown towards a distressed population of flood victims, the voices of those in need have not been easily suppressed. Complaints abound about the sheer inaccessibility of the promised funds. Those who have successfully reaped Watan Cards are facing problems in ‘cashing them’ whilst others cringe with fear as news of Watan cards getting stolen from centres spread like wildfire.
Their fears are neither groundless, nor easy to pacify. They spring from an hostility toward government mismanagement in providing what should be considered an entitlement and not a charitable venture. They depict anger against a leadership that is exploiting them to pursue its own interests.
What is needed now is a resignation to this fact and expecting nothing from an ineffective government. The solution is to embark upon a strategy geared towards self-help. Faiz has presented are similar view in Tanhaee:
“Ajnabi khaak nay dhundla dyay qadmoun kay suraagh
gul karo shammain! Barha dou meena-o-ayyagh
apnay bay khaab kiwaroun ko muqafful kar lo
ab yahan koi nahin, koi nahin aa’aye ga!”
“Unfamiliar dust has rubbed the traces of footsteps
Put out the lamps, remove the carafe and the cups
lock away your dream-less doors
Now, no one will come here, no one will come here!”
It is this resignation that will engender the urge to bring forth positive changes and lead to future prosperity. After all, no one will come here unless there is a sectional interest to be achieved.