Two legs not good

Forgive me for not sympathising with the passengers of the Karachi to Islamabad Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight that got delayed for hours because an ex-minister arrived late. In all the rejoicing going on about how VIP culture got a kick in the shin by the people of Pakistan, who threw Rehman Malik and another MNA off the plane, forgive me if I believe there will be no real dent in the prioritisation of the VIPs and nor will there be a definitive voice of the people for the cause. Mob justice and its auxiliary expressions are never going to create any precedence of justice; all it will create is precedence for the override of rule of law.
This shouting and sloganeering lot who could afford to fly by air are certainly not the most downtrodden and, if I was to bet on it, they are probably the beneficiaries of the culture to prop up those like themselves. I would also be willing to bet that they have paid their share of facilitation fee in cutting lines at passport controls and using underage maids to tend to their children. With all the judgement being hurled around these days, I will take the liberty to also assume that not many of the passengers would be too sympathetic to the people they oppress through their silence: the minorities and women.
What the footage of the video where Rehman Malik turns on his heels and heads back to the airport reveals is that there is a lot of pent up anger about how a certain group is to blame for the backwardness of the nation. First, things are never that simple. No single group can ever be blamed for something as complex as a developing world country. There is a multi-dimensional chess game at play here. Isolating one segment just because they have privilege or belong to a certain class is telling of something sinister: a hate that is a case of sour grapes more than a case of data on corruption.
It is not a surprise though. The political rhetoric is marred by cynicism and loathing with a broad brushed focus on the elite of Pakistan. Container politics borrows heavily from revolutionary style where it is being cooked up about how the rich have taken away all opportunity rightly saved for the poor and pocketed it. This is fed to the doe-eyed spectators for immediate consumption. The result will be many Rehman Maliks being thrown off planes and none of them will be deserving of this misguided wrath.
The problem with revolutionary style politics is that it dumbs down the discourse and equips everyone with an electric fly swatter. There is then a mass of people swinging in the air at anything that moves. The elite, even if we are to, for argument’s sake, put them in one basket, are the last people responsible for the challenges we face; militancy, terrorism, poverty, political instability and religious extremism are not happening because some people managed to get rich despite this. Moreover, if they are not contributing to the economy and setting up shop here, they are contributing by the charitable institutions they have either set up or contribute to. Almost all established businesses have a huge corporate social responsibility component. Giving back is something Pakistanis do graciously. It is tragic that without a sense of who contributes how much and in what realm, we are ready to admonish them all the first chance we get.
Most often, the passion we are exposed to in this post-revolutionary talk in Pakistan is limited to people’s personal discomforts like feeling claustrophobic in a standing plane. For those that involve others, we find silence, like in the case of being falsely accused of blasphemy probably because you are non-Muslim and vulnerable, like being subjected to social banishment because you do not conform to the majority or even forced conversions. For these, no one asks if we should take this for another 68 years. No one calls the oppressors derogatory names. Strangely, in these cases, the much-loathed status quo is sacred.
George Orwell’s Animal Farm should be required reading for all in Pakistan. Someone charitable should get it translated into Urdu and drop them from a helicopter over Constitution Avenue in Islamabad. Those who claimed that two legs were good and four better do not inspire much confidence at the end of it all. Even without reading it, a group of naya (new) Pakistan zealots actually tied up a four-legged wild boar, spray painted “Go Nawaz Go” on it and beat it to death. If this does not chill one’s heart of what the future in their hands holds I am not sure what does.

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