No matter how rational, reasonable and right a decision may seem at the time of making it, later on hindsight ruins it. As in hindsight — wisdom after the event — better options pop up making one regret the roads not taken and choices not opted. In our case, this regretting and rueing pretty much sums up the entire seven decades we have been alive and kicking. In the beginning, siding with the US of A sounded and felt like the best thing to do. Fast forward to here and now, does it sound and feel even half the same? Cowards, they say, easily get accustomed to anything. In our case, we, the cowards eventually get accustomed to way too many things.
A usurper looks, sounds and feels messianic when he grabs power from the degenerate democracy, a decade down the line, we begin to shed the illusion and once again search and find the same old, same debauched leaders to lead us out of the storm. It feels as if we keep on waking up, morning after morning, to realities we thought of, nah knew of, as zilch but make-believe charades. And keep on falling for the same tricks all over again. Of late, those realities have become starker, but does it even matter? Hardly. What is it all about? Well, dearest sirs and ma’ams it is about the same old cowards falling for the same old tricks, same old traps.
We are yet to dig graves, way deeper than our ancestors, and bury the wrong convictions we’ve cherished all our lives. The sooner we do it the better we’ll be as the games that we played to hoodwink the world at large are nearing their anticlimactic denouement. The world has learned to see through the ‘we are innocent know-nothings’ ploy as it has started to go stale and reek badly. And when the push comes to shove, how do we respond? We change the lap and smile our signature smile. We recently sacked the tough looking bald falcon and put cute looking adorable panda in its place while hoping that this time around, we are not the cowards making necessary adjustments.
Our hundreds of ‘if only’ scenarios have played perfectly well many times and made way for more ‘if only’ cravings. Remember when we had that ‘if only’ for a strong, upright man after successive civilian governments of 1950’s. We had Field Marshal Ayub Khan for more than a decade till another ‘if only’ for real, pure democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people caused us to send him home and finish the books he had been planning to read. Then we had the ‘If only’ we get rid of drunk on power Zulfiqar Bhutto, followed by an ‘if only’ we had more stringent, strict Islamic laws, we’ll be in a far better position. And we all know how that ‘if only’ played out.
The pious loathed the alcohol, and their ‘if only’ comprised banning it for all and sundry as a prerequisite for a prosperous, morally upright, sober and righteous Pakistan. Result? Those who drink it, still manage to get hold of it, from here, there or elsewhere. While as an unintended consequence Pakistan came under the rampant onslaught of heroin in late ’70s till now that has wreaked havoc to such an extent that around seven million drug addicts inundate the country’s landscape.
Not the only cowards in the neighbourhood
One can fight history, but not geography is the latest lesson nations have learned. We, for lack of better luck, live in a dog-eat-dog neighbourhood, where three out of four neighbours are utterly ill at ease with us and have on their fingertips all the instances when they were dealt a wrong hand and left in the dark by their now-friend, now-enemy neighbour i.e. Pakistan.
Our ‘brother’ on west side, Afghanistan, has a long list of grievances, be it from Pakistan’s role in ruining it in the first place, seeking an ever-elusive strategic depth or returning Afghan refugees at a time when the war-torn republic is under immense turmoil.
Also, the newfound affection between Afghanistan and India with later pledging a billion dollar financial assistance to show its ‘abiding support for a unified, sovereign, democratic, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan’ is being interpreted in Pakistan as birth of an evil nexus between a war ravaged, mercenary country and an old enemy turned regional bully. Whether the apprehensions are true or not is immaterial since it is the mindset through which Pakistan views the happenings around rather than the happenings themselves.
Our imagined and perceived misgivings about the doings and undoings of Iran are also endless. We smell a rat whenever any of our two neighbours sit at a table that has no seat with our tag.
No doubt, the responsibility does not squarely lie with Pakistan alone. India, Iran and Afghanistan too, at times, refuse to behave with neighbourly grace and restraint. They all, it seems, are yet to learn how to shed undue interest in each other’s ‘state of affairs’. Nothing can better sum up the regional situation and this write up better than this excerpt from Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’: ‘In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong’. And that, dearest sirs and ma’ams, is precisely what we’ve been doing for past many generations.