By: Salman Azeem
The dictionary explains ‘ho hum’ as being an ‘expression of tediousness or boredom’. Ho Hum, therefore, best describes the state of minds in Pakistan. There was a time several months ago when the media, political aspirants and others created the hype of an imminent change of government. Media debates and writings ranged over various possibilities. Politicians in the opposition ran around trying to forge alliances and hurl derogatory epithets at others. An activist judiciary was seen as the torch bearer of change and the ‘establishment’ was seen as being in support of the judiciary and the secret behind the scenes manipulator. Each new event whether on the streets of Karachi or Baluchistan or in FATA or Punjab was seen as another nail in the governments’ coffin. Lurid details of corruption, mismanagement and cronyism were being shouted from rooftops.
This is no longer the case now. The politicians in the opposition are running around like headless chickens – outwitted and out maneuvered. The media continues its diatribes but these are accepted and no longer make waves or even ripples – they are seen for what they are, ploys for revenue generation from advertisements. The judiciary is independent and going about its business with some cracks visible – no one expects miracles. The establishment has been accepted as having broken from the past and is seen as a bystander with its work cut out. Scams and scandals surface and disappear into investigations and court procedures. Lawlessness is being accepted as kidnappings, murders, random killings, bombings and street rage become a fact of life – not even making headlines any more. Bizarre incidents like the Davis killings and the Taseer-Bhatti murders provoke rage that peters out into despair. The government continues to function and the country gets run somehow. Economic decline, rising prices, increasing poverty and joblessness are topics for discussion because there is nothing else to discuss. Life goes on and the name of the game is acceptance and compromise. No one is excited anymore – not even by the 2013 elections.
No longer is the nation waiting for a savior to come galloping on a white horse. No one is expecting the strategic ally – the US or the much touted Friends of Pakistan to work a miracle in Pakistan. If anything the suspicion about US intentions has reached a crescendo. Reality has kicked in. The reality is that this elected government is going to complete its tenure – its accomplishments are being slowly seen from between all its warts. Political shenanigans are exposing people as never before. No one has so far said anything profound, strategic or visionary – the future looks dreary. There is grudging acceptance of the fact that the country has weathered difficult situations – some of Tsunami strength and held its own. Dire predictions continue to be made but they lack conviction and those making them lack credibility. The ‘establishments’ hands-off policy is being accepted as reality and even the pronouncements by the US fail to create a dent. This is a classic case of a game having been played to the finish leaving everyone exhausted – no one is crying foul and if someone is then there is no listener.
The time has come to move on. The media needs to revamp with meaty futuristic debates. The political scene needs new faces below thinking brains. The US needs to rethink strategy to change its image in public opinion. The ‘establishment’, the bureaucracy and the judiciary need to deliver – to the people. Those in power need to see the snowball that might roll on despair turned into rage to gain size, momentum and power before.