The mother of all solutions


Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

All my life I have wondered why this country with so much potential has lagged so far behind even those European countries that were decimated by WW II or Japan which was minced and milled with A-bombs for its affront of Pearl Harbour. This country was unscathed by any disaster of those proportions.

The human material’s quality at the top has always been suspect here, but then too laws of natural development do take their course in spite of human follies. Something of titanic proportions must have been awry here to have taken us backwards instead of forward.

The answer to my query literally fell providentially in my lap. It had forever been in front of me but I had been blind to it. The news that the National Assembly decided to outlaw criticism of the President and other pillars of state, solved the mystery for me. It was with this that it dawned on me that the reason for our backwardness has been our national, but deadly and noxious, pastime of criticism.

Among our other national habits the outstanding ones are, cowering before the US, grovelling for favours with the oil-rich Sheiks, leering at women in the streets, destroying properties here for blasphemies committed elsewhere, occupying children’s libraries to impose demands, seeing children killed for the sake of Basant and selectively applying the ‘writ of the state’.

Our habit of criticising has been the greatest obstacle to our progress. Criticising all and sundry just for the heck of it has become a national trait. Critics do not realize that criticism is an unnatural process which leaves its victim psychologically traumatized, stunted and disoriented. It curbs, curtails and contorts his/her natural abilities and talents; in short, it totally wrecks the person. A person can only flourish and live up to his/her potential when free from the vicious curse of criticism.

Friday, February 23, 2007 may prove to be a truly momentous and auspicious day in the history of the country, thanks to the passing of the Amended Draft Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business 2007 by a majority vote in the last sitting of the 39th session of the National Assembly. These new rules prohibit criticism of the president, army, judiciary and judges. The Speaker said under the Constitution, no one could criticize the president, army, judiciary and judges, adding that rules couldn’t be made against the Constitution. It was presented by the master turncoat Minister Sher Afgan Niazi. The ‘mother of all solutions’ had at last been discovered.

When the Assembly reconvenes for the new session, the honourable minister should present an amendment to the Constitution in which Pakistan should be declared a ‘criticism-free zone’. Desperate times demand desperate measures. This blessing should encompass the entire country to produce extraordinary results. The ruling Gujrat Dynasty should be able to muster enough votes for a constitutional amendment (remember the 17th Amendment?). The MMA will certainly oblige; haven’t they got the Jamia Hafsa mosque back?

In fact after passing the Amendment, abolishing the National Assembly and all provincial Assemblies would be the best move. These too are chronic critics. This would also remove the headache of providing perks and privileges to those who do nothing but criticise and rubberstamp bills. Moreover it would do away with the problem of rigging the elections. Those at the helm now could remain there at their own pleasure.

With the passing of this amendment, this country should become a land of peace and bliss. Imagine the blessings it will bring in its wake. The garbage that passes for talk shows where the participants lunge for each others throats, or where some defend their viewpoint with forceful ‘bazaari’ language, would go off the air. The impending energy crisis would be averted with this measure alone, as there are too many talk shows and too many watch them. The sadists who derive pleasure in seeing politicians or ministers writhe and cringe in front of the host will however be deprived of entertainment. They may have to switch over to the healthy outdoor sport of bear-baiting.

The country would save precious foreign exchange on paper because the newspapers would neither have editorials nor op-ed pages, which are dedicated to criticism of the sacrosanct. The newspapers could well be printed on two sheets if criticism is expunged from their pages, although this may create a crisis of unemployment as the newspapers thrive on criticism. These unemployed could be gainfully employed at the arenas of bear-baiting.

Filing petitions in courts for missing persons is tantamount to criticism of the Army, so they will naturally be disallowed. As the buck stops at the teak desk of the President, filing petitions against spurious and sordid deals like the sale of the Steel Mills or Gwadar land also amounts to criticism of him. Because the country is in fact run by the President and the Army, any challenge to their actions amounts to criticizing them. The best thing would be to do away with the judiciary and this way too a lot of money will be saved.

The crime graph would plummet dramatically because the police, safe from all criticism which hinders its performance, could go all out against those criminals who refuse to share the booty with it. There will be an unpleasant aspect of unreported surge in extra-judicial killings and the amassing of ill-gotten wealth by the police because reporting this would be criticism. These should be considered a minor irritant if the nuisance of criticism is to be done away with and the good of the country is at heart.

There will be very smooth working of all the departments of the federal, provincial and local governments once the irritant of criticism is removed. There won’t be the Assemblies to check them, there will no Public Accounts Committees to drag them over the coals, no judiciary to reverse deals. They will be able to use all their ingenuity and talents to serve the criticism-free country to the best of their ability. That they will be unhindered in their opaque dealings should be considered a minor nuisance. We should be magnanimous for they will be running the country as they deem best and we should be thankful for little mercies.

The country will progress rapidly after becoming a criticism-free zone and soon outstrip the Asian Tigers because all the vast potential of the bureaucracy, Army and the Presidency will come into play for the first time in our history. I can already feel the warmth of our over-heated economy.

There will certainly be a few glitches and snags but then there is hardly a law or convention that is free of them. The snags will occur when the holy brigade wants to criticize their counterparts in the other sects. This they consider as a God-given right and will not give it up without a fight, amendment or no amendment. They need to go for someone’s throat to keep healthy and fit. Without their favourite pastime they would go into a mental stupor. The women danda brigade could occupy Kahuta to forcefully present their viewpoint.

A major problem would surface when the almighty Americans, because of their strategic interests in our very immediate neighbourhood, come visiting the criticism-free land. They have never been thankful, let alone appreciative, for the enthusiastic and eager services received gratis, which include the U-2 bases, the first Afghan war, the second Afghan war and the present air bases. They are like rude and uncouth guests who derive pleasure in insulting the host to their heart’s content and to add insult to injury, praise the opponents. Now who is going to tell Condi that she is violating our virgin, sacrosanct constitution by criticizing us for not doing enough to control the Taliban? This will be a hard nut to crack.

But anyway Mr. Speaker Sir, kindly pass the bill for this ban at the earliest!

For he, that once hath missed the right way

The further he doth go, the further he doth stray.

This article was first published in The Post on 13 March, 2007

The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at mmatalpur@gmail.com

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