There are occasions, when people who ‘wield the pen’ are afflicted with the dreaded phenomenon called ‘writer’s block’. This is what happened to yours truly last week. People from my line of work cannot afford to snooze, while commuting to office or travelling beyond the daily grind, for this is where, we find stories that make column writing worth it. It appears that ‘the block’ not only affects the ability to put thoughts on paper (in my case – the hard drive), but creates the illusion that stories have ‘dried up’, when in actual fact they haven’t. Mercifully, the condition disappears within a day or two, thanks to the interesting times we live in.

In my case, two things cured me. The first was a social event, where I found myself surrounded by a group of guests, who were wasting their time and ‘intellect’ by ‘shooting down’ the PTI Government’s hundred day performance and the shenanigans of the PM’s Team of Ministers. The second was an interesting comment on a social media group of which, I am an unwilling member.

The past few weeks bore mute testimony as the floor of the Upper House became a verbal battleground, providing ‘great entertainment’ for the people of Pakistan. Leading the assault from the treasury benches was the Minister of Information, while Mushahidullah Khan took it upon himself to respond from across the aisle. I re-ran the recordings of the proceedings, only to discover that what was uttered by Chaudry Sahib, was not far from the truth. If calling a spade a spade is un-parliamentary, then our most important ‘pillar of state’, needs a reputable company to carry out a moral audit of both the houses and those who sat (and continue to sit) in them during their successive tenures.

I also find it disconcerting and illogical, when people (and perfectly educated ones) gripe and point fingers at the present government for not doing, what its predecessors deliberately accomplished i.e. throw us into an abyss, escape from which, if not impossible will be nothing short of herculean. For those, who brought us to this point, I have nothing but contempt, when they unashamedly demand results in three months from a government that is desperately working to clean up the mess created by decades of corrupt governance.

One doesn’t need a fertile imagination to feel the panic, when on assuming the mandate given to it by the people, a new dispensation discovers an empty treasury, an unprecedented and gigantic debt burden, a huge budget deficit, an almost unbridgeable trade gap and people sitting in every department still loyal to their former masters. Mitigating this situation requires out of the box measures and even purges, much like radical surgery, where a festering boil has to be cut open, drained and then removed, until none of its vestiges remain. The entire surgical operation requires courage as far as the patient is concerned - from the decision to getting it done to the actual removal and there is no denying that the process manifests necessary pain, which has to be borne for the sake of survival.

However, I cannot but wonder, at the bankruptcy of our survival spirit when tough, overdue steps of the right kind generate pain, when illegal encroachments are razed to the ground; when the traffic cop issues a ticket for violation of law; when rules are followed in public offices (because following laid down procedure takes longer than bribing someone or using contacts to enable a shortcut). All this and much more leads one to conclude that perhaps we are collectively beyond redemption or correction. Of the greatest concern is the fact that there is no foreign hand to be blamed for this condition, but ourselves and our political leadership. Our concern aggravates, when we put our hopes in someone, who appears different from the dynasties that have run Pakistan in the past – someone, who desires a return to civilized norms; wants us to become honest citizens; inculcates patience and fortitude (through self-example) and above all cannot succeed unless we are willing to sacrifice and bear pain, so that we may ‘rise from the ashes’.


The writer is a freelance columnist.