The octogenarian Lee Iacocca, father of the fabled Ford Mustang and the man who gave re-birth to Chrysler that recently died, laments in his latest book: “Where have all the leaders gone?” The septuagenarian Wajahat Latif, ex-policeman extraordinaire-turned columnist, asked the same question last Friday in his piece. Now let a sexagenarian speak.
The less said about Britain with its Blairs and Browns and Camerons in waiting the better, but look at us. We build grandiose theories on superficial knowledge and would thrust them down everyone’s throats. We make heroes out of villains. We no longer know what is good for us and what is bad. We regard justice as injustice and miscarriage of justice as justice. We talk blithely about “the people” and what they think without even understanding what “the people” means. We don’t know what it feels like to be a father who cannot feed his children and in sheer frustration and utter hopelessness contemplates suicide. We don’t know what it feels like to be a mother who in sheer desperation sends her young daughter out on the streets to sell her body, her flesh, her mind and her soul just to keep the family going. Raped girls don’t report to the police for fear that they will be convicted for adultery unless she can ‘prove’ that they were raped and did not actually consent. ‘Proof’ requires four sane adults to actually witness the “thread going through the eye of the needle” as it were. Is that possible? Our educated don’t understand that the requirements to prove adultery cannot be applied to rape. She fears being raped in turn by the police itself if she comes from a poor family. And she fears social stigma. I can go on, but why waste the time of a people who have run out of patience, where tolerance and moderation are no more and where common sense died a long time ago. We have lost the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong, good and evil – a sure sign of the demise of a nation.
Any wonder then that along the way we also lost our self-respect? Don’t you see this in the quality of discourse and debate in parliament, in our press, on our ‘independent’ television channels? Don’t you see this in the parliamentarians we have elected who regularly slap people, fight with airport customs for having the temerity to check a friend’s luggage or steal someone’s credit card from a gym and then go shopping at a jewelry store and then try and blame a servant. We extol mediocrity and dishonesty. The more a leader loots and oppresses us the more we love him – or her. Forget it. “Where have all the leaders gone?” Blah! First tell me what’s happened to “we the people”.
Mr. Iacocca: if a people could elect Bush two terms running and for years couldn’t even see through the fact that their financial world is a scam created by a few bankers mostly loyal to Israel, that the dollar is a legless currency based on hot air, that they were getting loans far in excess of what their incomes deserved and would come crashing down one day, then they can certainly produce criminal leaders like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the whole jing-bang lot of human rights abusers. And so will we.
Again there is talk of ‘change’ in September-October. Disgraceful is that this talk comes from the same people who wanted this lot back, but are they embarrassed? Not a bit. What that ‘change’ will be and how it will come about no one says clearly. Why should there be change? Either because of a clash between the executive and the judiciary or because after the army withdraws having beaten the Taliban, the civilian branch of government won’t be able to deliver and the extremists will make a comeback by entering the void created by non-delivery. But can the army deliver? It is not their job. Let me tell you this, my friends and compatriots. If the Taliban make a comeback after the army’s withdrawal, the world will lose patience with us. That is the most likely scenario. Then get ready for damma dum mast qalandar, as Mr. Bhutto would say.