Ever since Pakistan’s birth, we have had numerous governments. Each government assured the masses that its only objective was to make Pakistan prosperous. Thus, all the governments had one common mission. Only the techniques used by the various governments were different.

Unfortunately, every government failed to fulfill its commitment. But we must not doubt the intentions of any of the governments. Each government failed because it had only a few years at its disposal of bringing about the promised revolution. Obviously, it was impossible to transmute an extremely poverty-stricken country into a prosperous land in a few years. When a government realised that the time at its disposal was horribly insufficient for the promised transmutation, it decided to make the best of time by working for its own prosperity. It was a very successful decision. Each government’s private economic affairs flourished like hell. As a consequence, the masses went on becoming more and more miserable and the rulers went of becoming more and more prosperous. Had the government not used the time available to them for their own prosperity, it would have been wasted and the wasted time would have been a tragic national loss.

If the governments could not give prosperity to the masses, they were morally justified. Prosperity, like charity, must begin at home. If the prosperity money is hardly sufficient for the rulers, the masses can go to hell. If the masses could not be accommodated, the rulers were not to be blamed. It was prosperity itself which was the real villain. Why didn’t it make itself available to the governments in abundance so that the governments could have showered it generously on the masses. Almost every government has made fools of the masses. Being passionately patriotic, the masses have always co-operated with every government in its national befoolery mission. Pakistan is a fool’s paradise. There is no fool like a Pakistani fool. Whenever a government comes to power, it forthwith declares that it is determined to make the masses prosperous. The masses go delirious with hopes. But when the government’s tenure is over the masses find themselves more miserable than ever before. Every government makes promises but emulates the conduct of its predecessor. The masses are never disappointed. They don’t bother about the fulfillment of promises. They religiously believe that unfulfilled promises are better than no promises at all.

A poor country is a country where the masses are fabulously poor but a small minority is fabulously rich. The richer the minority, the poorer the masses. The rich are rich because when their survival needs have been abundantly met, they are left with huge surplus of money. The poor are poor because they hardly have the means to satisfy their bare survival needs. The rich man’s surplus becomes a problem for him. His stomach cannot consume it. The stomach has its physiological limitations. If it stupidly tried to consume the master’s surplus, it must fatally explode. The surplus hangs heavy on the master’s heart. He does not know what to do with it. He is despondent. The eye decides to rescue the master. It whispers something into his ear. The master is jubilant. He puts the surplus at the disposal of the eye. The eye flies out on a shopping spree.

It flies back with a load of a wide variety of highly precious objects of decoration. The ceilings, the floors, the walls of the house are lavishly decorated with highly expensive objects. The house radiates splendour. The eyes beam with jubilation.

Let alone the rich countries of the world, there is not a single poor country where huge sums of money have not been burnt for the adornment of the residences of the rich minority. In our own poor land, you can see billions of rupees hanging on the walls of the houses of the people who have money to burn. If our starving masses are depressed by the wall-handing money, they are free to hang themselves. Unless man becomes blind, starvation must continue to flourish in the world.

Obviously, there is something dangerously pathological about the lust of the eye for unlimited ornamentation. The only unharmful lust is a dead lust. The lust must be surgically removed from the eye.

    The writer retired as professor of the Department of English, Government College University, Lahore.