George Carlin wrote something in the eighties that still touches peoples heart and somewhat reflects present-day elite of Pakistan in my reckoning. An abridged parody of one of his poems is presented here:
The paradox of Pakistani elite, at present, is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers.
We have wider motorways, but narrower viewpoints.
We have bigger houses and smaller hearts to accommodate, more conveniences but less time.
We have more degrees (including fake ones), but less sense.
We more knowledge, but less judgment.
We have more experts, yet more problems.
We yap too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom with no conviction in God Almighty.
We believe in smart work and not hard work.
We cheat Pakistan and its people, and think we can get away with it.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We have learned how to make a quick buck, but not a life.
We have added years to life not life to years.
We have polluted the air as well as the soul.
We write more, but learn less.
We plan more, but accomplish less.
We have learned to rush, but not to wait.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and growing poverty.
These are the days of suicide attacks, no electricity, burning trains and shameless laughing in talk shows.
These are days of quick trips (at the cost of public money), disposable commitments, throwaway morality, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.
It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.
Having moved to Zimbabwe, we have seen Pakistan as outsiders for last six months with things getting from bad to worse. Our entire optimism seems to be getting diluted in empty space with few signs of hope in Pakistan. The scandalous behaviour of our elite has pushed this wonderful country to the brink of disaster. Can we do something about saving Pakistan?
We are day dreaming and struck with an idea of a grand reconciliation, nothing like an NRO, but real reconciliation. Not long ago in South Africa, we saw the dawn of a new era, where a century of hatred between the oppressed African people and the ruling white elite was turned into an opportunity by the great leadership of Nelson Mandela. Can we learn from it, especially when the ruling elite is not a foreign occupying power, but people from our own stock (although worse than a foreign occupying power)? What should be the contours of this reconciliation process and how can it benefit the common people of Pakistan.
Let us analyse the state of affairs before embarking on any concept of reconciliation.
Let us acknowledge that there are no angels in the elite of Pakistan, and the system has been rotting to the core as far as rampant corruption is concerned. Topping that is the fact that the elite has become shameless and possessive about the power that it derives from corruption and is not ready to shed an iota of it.
It is a known fact that the billions illegally possessed by the elite (either in form of real estate, industrial units or dollars stashed into Swiss banks) belong to the people of Pakistan and there is no way we can move to progress without that fortune.
We have tried hard to push this ossified system of pseudo-democracy to make some visible progress. But the ruling elite is one big selfish hurdle that is not ready to part away with its methods and intrigues and has to be either removed or made obsolete, rather cut from the body of Pakistan through ruthless surgery.
Despite tall claims and self-created slogans of “system will get derailed”, and that “Pakistan’s survival lies in the hands of these so-called democrats”, we are very sure that this ruling elite of approximately 3,000 families does not constitute Pakistan, Pakistan is the rest of 17,999,7000 people, who have been suffering from this very elite since the birth of this country.
Whereas a bloody revolt may be knocking at our doors, the ruling elite has still time left to save their skins, go for a grand reconciliation, not amongst themselves but with the 17,999,7000 people of Pakistan.
The formula is to make the ruling elite de-possess the riches, confiscate, and distribute to people of Pakistan by bringing a permanent change and not for the sake of the change.
A caretaker government, headed by likes of Abdul Sattar Edhi and Ansar Burny duly supported by the army and the judiciary and some clean names of the media and civil society, be formed for at least two years with the following targets;
Collect Pakistan’s $2,000 billion from the ruling elite. The ruling elite may be made to acknowledge through an open media trial that the money does not belong to their fathers and grandfathers, but the people of Pakistan.
An independent screening commission be formed to make sure that the members of the ruling elite are distinguished as black or white and no one is left with grey colour. The ones with black label be given a choice to work as common citizens of Pakistan (after confiscating their riches), but barred from holding any public office for lifetime with every one placed on the exit control list.
An independent Election Commission be formed (in real sense) to supervise the electoral process, including preparation of genuine voters list and delimitation of electoral wards and constituencies with a task to hold elections. Minimum qualification to stand in the Provincial and National Assembly election be graduation and that too of genuine and authenticated nature.
An independent development commission to supervise tax collection and spend the $2,000 billion of Pakistani money on education, infrastructure, poverty alleviation and fast-paced development, and half of this fund should be exclusively used for Balochistan with constitutional guarantees for continuity of these development programmes for at least the next decade.
We representing the youth of Pakistan have suggested a solution. It is only for the people of Pakistan to bring the change by bringing down these ‘big people with small character’.
n The writer is a freelance columnists.