The Pakistani Nation must have watched the speech of our Minister for Defence, as he fired salvo after salvo with reference to the very institution, whose integrity and dignity, his portfolio mandates him to protect. It appeared as if the gentleman in question had nurtured a dislike for the men in khaki, until his hostility erupted, magma like, on the floor of the Parliament. In this moment of weakness (which our venerable Minister is liable to label as courage) the orator, who often reverts to crude language on and off media, appeared to have donned the mantle of the infamous ‘hand’ tasked to stain his own political party, develop uncertainty, divide the Nation and bring about a conflict between institutions.
While one could criticize politicians to no end, the ongoing scenario also reflected our media’s ‘lack of wisdom’, manifested in an unnecessary spate of talk shows, without regard to the effects that this was likely to create. Regretfully, some channels and their talk show hosts appeared hell bent upon linking a conspiracy theory with what was an institution’s reiteration to safeguard its integrity and dignity.
It appears that the ministerial outburst in the Parliament created waves amongst the ruling party, whose leadership felt the need for immediate damage control. Consequently a string of Ruling Party stalwarts appeared on television and issued statements designed to diffuse the situation. This was at best, political firefighting - as the Minister concerned is more than likely to become the center of another controversy because of his ‘uncontrolled’ eloquence. It would therefore be in the interests of the party if the Prime Minister takes steps to reign in those amongst its ranks, who appear to be carrying a chip on their shoulders.
We have over the years somehow developed the psyche of blaming the Government for all the wrongs in the Land of the Pure. In doing so we overlook the fact that as a nation, all of us are equally responsible for what happens around us. We think that it is our birthright to ignore and break the law and we do this with impunity every day of our lives. The situation is aggravated because of our pitiful enforcement standards, but this part of the column is not about the enforcers – it is about us.
I had always praised the way traffic laws were relatively better observed by the Public in the Federal Capital as compared to Lahore or Rawalpindi - regretfully, I may have to review my opinion. I have on repeated occasions watched helplessly, while traffic violators flagged down for an infringement have sped away passing dangerously close to the cop, who tries to stop them. The only thing the man in grey can do is mumble something sheepishly into his radio and then return to his duty. One hundred percent of these traffic offenders are in cars and appear to come from the literate segments of society.
While littering is a public offense in civilized countries, we perhaps feel empowered when we nonchalantly toss coke bottles or wrappers out of car windows. We comprehensively put the seal on our civic superiority, when we stick our mug out of the window at high speeds and direct a stream of saliva into space with total disregard for the fact that what we are doing is not only unhygienic, but might land on the car following us.
Just this morning, while driving to work I had to brake and halt at an awkward slope, because a moron ahead of me had parked his car in the middle of the lane and was busy discussing the morning news with a friend leaning out of another expensive looking vehicle. My repeated honking must have provoked the idiot because he shot an arm out of his window and executed the internationally recognized gesture of contempt for my benefit, before proceeding to drive away – leaving me in a state of dumb frustration. It was then that I was suddenly reminded of something attributed to a Chinese Proverb which I had read a long time ago - “For the nation’s rise and fall, every citizen has a responsibility.”

The writer is a freelance columnist.