Retribution


Mir Mohammad Ali

Sheikh Saadi in Gulistan says, “When Egypt came under Haroon-ur-Rasheed’s sway, he sent his slave Khaseeb there as the governor. Khaseeb’s ignorance was as legendary as Luqman Hakeem’s wisdom. This ignoramus was deliberately sent by him as a punishment because the Pharaohs had claimed to be Gods. This was as a retribution for their affront to the Unity of Allah.

Once when the cotton crop of the farmers living on the banks of the River Nile was destroyed by unseasonal rain, they came with their grievance to Khaseeb. He replied, ‘Why don’t you sow wool instead of cotton, rain doesn’t spoil it.’” He didn’t even comprehend the difference between plant and animal products.

Haroon-ur-Rasheed had sent Khaseeb as a retribution for the transgressions of the Pharaohs. Have you ever wondered what sins have the people here committed to suffer the likes of Musharraf, Arbab Rahim, Ishratual Ebad, Jam Yousaf, Owais Ghani, Pervaiz Elahi, Mushahid, Chaudhry Shujaat, Benazir, Altaf Hussain and of course Shaukat Aziz as rulers and deciders of our fate? The punishment has been unremitting and harsh with no hope of reprieve; its severity and duration indicates that colossal sins must have been committed to have merited this third degree chastisement.

Any crisis big or small immediately exposes the shallowness of the rulers and the frivolous methods of governance here; Arbab Rahim in a statement after the deaths due to toppling of huge hoardings in Karachi, had the audacity to say that the deaths were due to Divine wrath because, “Almost all the companies advertised their products through obscene and vulgar pictures of women in Karachi and it was an un-Islamic act in our Muslim society.”

So, all these people died because of the obscene and vulgar pictures of women. Nothing could be more asinine than this glossing over of the gross inefficiency, ineptitude and incompetence that passes for governance. The billboards have been there all the time that he has been ruling this God forsaken province in cahoots with the MQM and certainly he cannot be unaware that these boards were there illegally and they had been paid handsomely for these obscenities. What was he doing all the time that he has been the CM? Probably busy performing Umras at the exchequer’s cost and running to Islamabad to defend Musharraf’s illegal acts.

Even if for a second we were to accept this asinine theory of Divine wrath, then by the extension of this logic all the cities in Pakistan should have suffered this fate. Why was Karachi singled out for this divine retribution? Moreover, if this logic is further extended, all the cities in the West should have daily deaths due to the toppling of the obscene and vulgar billboards where the pictures are more explicit. The attempt to seek excuses for one’s gross ineptitude in divine wrath is as inexcusable as it is asinine. The situation in this province is pathetic but the conditions in other provinces too are not alluring either, because there too the Khaseebs hold sway.

Myths of very doubtful veracity have always been floated around wilfully with the purpose of reinforcing the mindset that becomes used to accepting the supernatural vindication of all matters so that the rulers can get away with blue murder. When myths becomes the fundamental source of the rules for governance, then the inexorable rot and disintegration sets in and this is exactly what we are witnessing in this ‘citadel of Islam’. The situation cannot improve until and unless reality replaces fantasy and illusions and this at best seems an impossibility.

The hope that rationality may supplant myths seems a faraway dream as a recent news item in a national daily proves. It said: “According to the legend, Abdullah Shah Ghazi (RA) once inverted a bowl at the seashore and deflected storms from Karachi. ‘There is no such ‘bowl’ — Karachi is kept safe by the saints’ prayers alone,’ clarified Nazim Jamaat Ahle Sunnat Sindh Sufi Mohammad Lakhani. ‘Praying for social welfare is a sunnat practiced by saints.’ Four saints are said to keep Karachi safe with their prayers: Samandari Baba on the National Highway, Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Clifton, Yusuf Shah in Manora, and Manghopir Baba. ‘The city has been saved from disasters countless times by the prayers of these saints,’ Lakhani asserted.”

Others believe that saints’ prayers can make disasters sent by Allah suddenly subside, said former member of the Islamic Ideology Council of Pakistan Haji Mohammad Haneef Tayyab. “After the 1965 war, Indian General Arorah visited Pakistan. During his visit, the general met Maulana Maududi. Arora told him that he didn’t understand why so many Pakistanis had survived the war, especially since Lahore had been bombed so heavily. Maududi asked Arora what he thought was the reason. ‘Our fighter pilots reported that whenever they tried to bomb Lahore, they saw a saint catch the bombs in his green kameez,’ Arora told him,” Tayyab related.

Probably the Ulema sincerely believe and make many others believe that green-robed saints with flowing white beards stood on the Ravi Bridge in 1965 and caught bombs released by Indian warplanes in mid-air and lobbed them into the river. They also believe like Haji Mohammad Haneef Tayyab that whenever the Indians bombed Lahore in the 1965 war, the Indian fighter pilots reported that whenever they tried to bomb Lahore, they saw a saint catch the bombs in his green kameez.

Nobody bothers to inquire from them where these green robed saints were during the 1971 war and why didn’t they come to the help of the pathetic General Niazi when he was ignominiously surrendering at Paltan Maidan or for that matter help out during Kargil’s misadventure. Had they gone AWOL? One also wonders where the saints who save Karachi from the cyclones were on the 12th of May when the carnage was going on. Perhaps those actions do not fall under their ambit.

Coming up with supernatural and mythical explanations is the favourite national pastime for the politicians and the Ulema. The politicians and Generals use the Divine Right and Divine wrath theory to cover up their illegal seizures of power and to give their ineptitude and incompetence a religious cover, which people may feel embarrassed to challenge because anything with connotations of religion automatically becomes sacrosanct. Haven’t you noticed that the Army is always projected and presented as being the army of the Ummah and Islam? Our A-bombs also fall into that category, but no one bothers to poll the opinion of people in Chaghai and Balochistan.

It is under the influence of this obsolete and petrified mindset that the General himself and his minister Sheikh Rashid take pride in smugly saying that they have been on the roof of the Holy Kaaba and consider themselves notches above ordinary mortals like us; what they fail to understand is that their being able to go there has nothing to do with their superior piety or their being the chosen few of Allah. It just means that they have a good rapport with the rulers who on quid pro quo basis allow them to go there to satisfy their inflated egos.

This attitude is not something that comes about on the spur of the moment. It is something very much ingrained in their psyches and mindsets and it is this reasoning that guides the spiritual and terrestrial affairs of our society and the country. This flawed and warped reasoning doesn’t provide any hope for corrective or preventive measures against mis-governance. Little wonder that tragedies and catastrophes abound and the country is engulfed in chaos and anarchy. The people ruled by the politicians and popes of this mindset are certainly deserving of boundless compassion and commiseration.

It certainly is most disheartening and disappointing to see that of the multitudes living here, it is only the Khaseebs who rise to the top to become an unending punishment for the people. The honest and the dedicated certainly outnumber the Khaseebs by the hugest of margins but somehow it is only the Khaseebs who know how to progress.

I will invoke Hafiz of Shiraz to put the issue into its true perspective. He says,

Assab e Taazi Shuda Majrooh ba Zair e Paalaan

Tauk e Zareen Hama Bar Gardan e Khar mee Beenam.

It means,

“Forlornly I see thoroughbreds sore-backed under rough sacks

While the golden necklaces adorn the glorified donkeys’ necks.”

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at mmatalpur@gmail.com

This article was first published in The Post on 03 July 2007

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