Late President Zia ul Haq may have been blown up in the C130 in 1988 but the philosophy he espoused is alive and well and lingers on in a definite and tangible manner. It is not quite fair, because he may have needed it to stay the supremo and to outsmart the liberals, it should rightly have been valid for only as long as he was alive. Now a whole new generation 35 years on and born after his death remains stuck in a situation which is not of their choice or doing and cannot turn over the page.

He made so many changes to the constitution, to the mindsets and created a Pakistan that has aligned itself with the Kingdoms of the Arab world while we were, in actuality, very much conceived as a modern, muslim south asian country – with its own vibrant culture and colours. As Senator Aitzaz Ahsan points out that we have proven time and again that we want nothing else but the rule of law and feel good whenever a change is brought about by the resistance of the people, with the Lawyers’ Movement being a demonstrated case in point, and do not approve or want monarchies which most of the Arabs are. We were not meant to adopt lifestyles alien to us. Zia ul Haq also left us remnants from his times that are even holier than the pope, as it were, because the raids conducted by the Ministry of Interior this year on New Year ’s Eve were not even done in his time.

The rest of the world including the UAE and other countries where the majority belongs to the muslim faith have no qualms about celebration of this event while we, of the Islamic Republic, must be seen to be the policemen of the muslim world. Which is clearly not the fact because, we may be the ones with the nuclear abilities, Dubai had the most spectacular fireworks possible and had its citizens, across the board, watching in awe. Who cares about giving our people some respite or some moments of joy – and here I speak of the majority who continue to shudder in the cold without any gas or electricity. All the privileges are reserved for the power elite. The government instead of focusing on its main role does these token gestures and highlights their achievements at destroying private events so that it gets marks from the ever increasing right –wingers. Is it terrorism or sectarianism that we are trying to fight or is being seen to be hypocritically virtuous that is top priority?

In Islamabad so many raids were carried out and no-objection-certificates withdrawn from hotels at the last minute that it became quite a vendetta. Nobody can be encouraged to revel momentarily and be happy for the few odd hours of good times with friends apparently. (I heard the Punjab Club in Lahore now has a New Year party on a day other than December 31, to escape vandalism of any sort!) Security is the only reason cited for this act while no arrangements are made for providing the security cover to the citizens. This government seems to be providing succor and comfort to its own kind only and has the attitude that the whole other spectrum be damned. It is an undeniable fact that the calendar being followed around the world is the Gregorian or the western calendar so celebrating a new beginning should not be made out to be as big an issue as it was done. It is also the same for Basant festivities. Wouldn’t it be simpler to have one new law that just bans happiness! We have gotten so used to anxiety anyway that nobody would really have to make a big change! Although I will be so sad for all my fabulous, brilliantly witty stage actors who will be banned as a result too and jobless thus depriving us of the last modicum of happiness in our wretched lives!

The confusion that also reigns supreme in the minds of all is about who and what are we trying to change. We consider Talibanization of our country as the biggest threat to us but the government seems to have no interest in taking tough decisions on how to deal with them. We are reminded of this confusion today too on the death anniversary of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer. This gives the army confused signals too. The trial of Musharraf, notwithstanding the detour to the AFIC, is getting the limelight and creating further divisions. His supporters have the edge of recounting and comparing his time with that of the present rulers even while agreeing that democracy is the best option.

Then there are the sounds that Tahir ul Qadri keeps making on the sides. He just keeps punching us strongly with how all that he was protesting against before the elections has been validated. He also has the advantage of being a recognized scholar on Islam. I find that there is a lot of what he talks about cannot disagree with, in hindsight. The political space in Pakistan has all been taken up by unimaginative right-inclined and extremely right inclined. It is so open for new leadership who could check or replace them. We have to move on from being a country that is at war with itself to a better place in the global village. The tweets coming from Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are not reassuring either. The digs on Musharraf sounding particularly strange from someone whose father spent many many years in a five star hospital jail. BBZ we will wait for you to do some growing up before taking you seriously. Would like to share a perspective on the year 2014 as penned by a poet:

Natija phir wohi ho ga, suna hai chaal badley ga

Parindey bhi wohi hoan gai, shikari jaal badley ga

Badalney hain tau din badlo, badaltey ho tau hindsey hi

Mahiney phir wohi hoan gai, bechara saal badley ga

Agar hum maan lain Aabi mahina sath saalon ka

Batao kitney saalon mai hamara haal badley ga?

 The writer is a public relations and event management professional  based in Islamabad.

Email:tallatazim@yahoo.com

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