Feb 28, 2009

Monkey business

Masood Hasan
The monkey-takeover is underway full speed– with all due apologies to many self-respecting monkeys that still live here, who have been supplanted by a more vicious strain of monkeys determined to grab whatever is left of Pakistan. The very word, Pakistan is one very confusing word. One word and a billion images piling up helter skelter, each one creating, adding and causing more confusion. Does that even begin to describe what is going on? Of course it doesn't. What about a trillion Piranha fish engaged in a mad feeding frenzy and ultimately turning inwards and feeding off one another? Perhaps that explains it but then again, not quite. In Rome it was a solitary emperor who mournfully played the lyre while the city burnt, but here there is a gigantic, super-space philharmonic orchestra comprising thousands of non-musical musicians, some with instruments and many with hoes, sickles, hammers, saws and whatever else they can lay their hands on. Instead of some harmony, a cacophony of shrill wailing and false notes echoes and re-echoes rising in pitch, till even plugging ears and burying heads in tons of soft sand cannot save you from this unearthly, unholy assault on whatever little remains of your senses. Pakistan has gone mad and we can't even blame the cows for it though the variety that now create the moves that create the chaos are not too far from what cows are tagged with and rabid dogs are known for.On top of it, everyone lies. That really causes confusion and conflict on a scale simply beyond human control. Everyone gets up everyday and starts to lie through the day. The higher they go, the worse the lies. The stakes can be huge or they can be petty but the lying goes ahead regardless. It is the new religion, the new creed and it prevails from one end of this country to the other. If anyone were to tell the truth, probably the rivers will start to flow upstream. The PM and AZ are playing what resembles a great game of ping pong, the people volunteering unwillingly to be the little plastic balls that go bouncing all over the place. In their hands, the two hold huge racquets and on this great table of chaos are millions of their supporters and abettors, all holding racquets and swatting the balls whichever way they can. There is no game plan. There is no need for one. Forwards and backwards the balls fly, apparently possessed with minds of their own and the mad game continues with shouting and swearing renting what little is left of the air. Those idiots who were hoping that things would settle down to some reasonable level and this country, shackled as it is in a million problems could begin the very long journey of starting to solve some of these problems, have now received so many resounding slaps that they can't see straight. It is a nation of cross-eyed people, miserably flailing about as they get hit by fresh dung cakes from their great leaders. Yesterday's foes are today's lovers and friends of yesterday are now arch enemies. You need a chart to plot and understand who is bedding whom and why and if not, why not. Thus the vision of the Chaudhries and the PPP sharing pajamas is – well what can one say?AZ apparently does not even get out of bed without consulting the PM who then announces to whoever is listening that he has secured the slippers which we all will understand to mean that AZ is out of his bed. This way the ping pong continues and the buck travels up and down, sideways and in loops without making any sense whatsoever. All this and more we all know so why mention it again? The answer is – of course there are no real answers here ever, that as citizens trapped here, we have no choice but to see and endure these painfully tumultuous times but since we are looking more and more like cattle, rulers are convinced that they can continue to get away with anything they can cook up at that dodgy eatery in Islamabad and other equally shady houses across the land. Will the people rise? Most of us believe that we are dead from inside, that nothing really moves us or shakes us, that the worst bestiality man can impose on man – in Pakistan it is mostly directed at the poor women, can occur here and people will not turn a hair. What is unfolding daily, this mad race for grabbing everything, is nauseating and it would be great to simply ignore it, stop reading the newspapers, switch the infernal TV channels off and throw away the radios, but we are caught in the big cycle and willing or unwilling, get yoked at random day after day to some grubby plan at the core of which lies money, power and control. 'This is no way to run a railroad,' as the man famously said, but this is the way the railroad is being run, even though it has gone off the rails.A 3 member bench in Islamabad issues a two liner and sets into motion more chaos. The question is why couldn't they issue a one liner? Why waste an extra line? It's something we will have to ask their lordships at the next wedding ceremony. And March has not really begun yet. The summer approaches in a most menacing way and none of us can really even begin to imagine what it's going to bring. We are broke, our much-touted 'Friends of Pakistan' have disappeared into the sunset, the begging bowl is bigger and more battered looking than ever before and it is asking for alms from anywhere that can spare a dime for this crumbly 'citadel' of Islam. Water, gas, power, money, law and order, good governance are all out the window. This is dog eat dog if you wish to demean the dogs – perhaps pigs might be a better way to put it. As our problems multiply at bewildering speed, all we seem to wish to do is go back again and again to the first room and start the fighting anew. Because solving problems requires thinking and serious, determined action; this 'democratic' order has absolutely no interest in going that way. All it seems to want is to get into bed with anyone which might help grab more of the pie. This may be interesting news for anthropologists or those studying the behavior of chimps; it does not do much good to the country. Immigration lines get longer and more desperate. Actually it is not half a bad idea. If we could, we should all leave Pakistan and let the 100 odd (indeed, very odd) power-brokers do whatever they wish to do. They can allocate all the land to themselves, grab whatever they see or wish for and be answerable to no one at all. With the people out of the equation, this could be paradise on earth. Other than that, none of us can see any hope in the days ahead. What more cheerful news can one ask for on a Sunday morning?

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