In our lives there have been many occasions when we have sadly reflected on the mistakes we have made and the wrong decisions that we have taken during our life time. Such moves which may have turned out to be fatal and we have been forced to ask ourselves, “If only I had ………..’.

There are also many instances in the pages of the world’s history books where great men and women particularly political leaders, with a shake of their heads, have regretfully asked themselves the same question, after taking a wrong or hasty decision. Such decisions have eventually changed the course of history, the destiny of many nations and the personal lives of the individuals. The most significant and historical ‘IF ONLY……’ is that of Adam. If he had not committed the original sin and had resisted the temptation of taking a bite from Eve’s apple, the planet earth would be a different place. But as we all know, that according to the Bible and other religious scriptures, Adam succumbed to the temptation and the world has been paying for his sin ever since. And if only our past and present governments, both civilian and military had adhered to the vision of the founder of this nation and his clarion call of: ‘Unity, Faith and Discipline’, Pakistan would not have ended up as a breeding ground for terrorism and a nest for the octopus of corruption.

And if only the Hon. Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan had not used the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’, to validate the army takeovers and facilitated the Generals in the past and instead, had come to the aid of the citizens and refused to endorse the takeover of the civilian government by the army, things would have been different.

A recent example in the case of Pakistan was the fatal decision by the late Benazir Bhutto, our former PM, who was persuaded to stand up in her car, to wave to the charged up crowd, which gave the assassin an opportunity to attack and kill her.

If only BB had not stood up, she might still be alive today and things could have been very different in this land of the Pak and the Pure. But sadly, that was not the case and her sudden death gave an opportunity to her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, a man with a murky past, to take over PPP; a party that was founded by her father, the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and eventually, as we know, AAZ, well known as Mr. 10%, became the President of Pakistan.

And if only Gen. Musharraf had fulfilled his promise to the nation and had sincerely implemented his seven-point agenda and established a zero tolerance policy to root out corruption from our system of governance and society and established an across-the-board accountability, to rid the country of the politics of corruption, things would have been different.

And if only the General had wisely used the funds that our allies had poured into our coffers after the tragic 9/11 bombing, to develop the education and health sector and strengthen the institutions, things would have been different and we would have proudly joined the other countries on the platform of the League of Nations. 

And if only the General had not been infected by the dangerous and deadly ‘Self above all’ virus and had remained a true General, with a no nonsense policy and had not tried to be a politician and embarked on the treacherous journey of Pakistan’s politics, then Pakistan would be a different country.

But of course that was not the case and the promised seven-point agenda was never fulfilled, while the funds were misused and wasted away on non-essential projects, which led to massive protests, street agitation and a long campaign of ‘Go Musharraf Go’, resulting in compelling the all powerful, iron-fisted General to resign prematurely. Today, he is in self exile and Pakistan is once again sailing in turbulent and choppy waters. In the case of other famous people, we have examples of Bill Clinton, a former US president and Tiger Woods, a well known golfer, who, like Adam, had succumbed to their sexual desires, by having extramarital relationships with other women and were embarrassed on the world stage and had to pay the consequences. If only they had resisted the temptations, then things would have been different for them and their families. Even conflicts and wars between nations could have been prevented, if only the leaders of the warring nations had foreseen the hardships and suffering it would cause to their citizens.

But sadly, that again was not the case and egomaniacal leaders started World War One and Two, unleashing death and destruction throughout the world, particularly, in Europe.

And if only the US had not dropped an Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima which obliterated the city and more recently not bombed and badly damaged the cities of Iraq, thousands of innocent citizens would not have been maimed or killed.

But such is the tragedy of this world and this simple phrase of ‘IF ONLY……’ has changed the course of history and nations and the lives of world leaders and individuals.   

However, there are many who feel that ‘If Only……..’ is not connected with the individual’s judgment or decision, but is linked with a person’s destiny or kismet, which puts an individual in a situation of decision- making which is regretted at a later stage in life and raises the question of ‘IF ONLY…….’.

(Email: trust@helplinetrust.org.pk)

 

Hamid Maker