The new normal should be authenticity.
Why do you think the world cares for Malala Yousafzai? Why would it want her as Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year?’ She came in a close second to Obama, beating the Apple CEO who was 3rd. Pakistanis know the answer. They acknowledge her chutzpah in defying the Taliban. Malala’s victory has swung open the doors for an ‘architect of new Pakistan.’ Someone authentic like herself. Wait we will have to until late next year when the ‘Big Four’ exit. They have merely pulled Pakistan in different directions.
If Barack Obama can be called the ‘architect of new America’ and bag the ‘Person of the Year’ title, who in Pakistan can engineer change? “We’ve gone through a very difficult time,” Obama told Time magazine’s editors. “The American people have rightly been frustrated at the pace of change, and the economy is still struggling, and this President we elected is imperfect, and yet, despite all that, this is who we want to be. That’s a good thing. All right?”
Obama has the humility to call himself “imperfect.” This word, I believe, is unknown to the Pakistani ‘Big Four.’ Visiting Malala in the hospital in England as President Zardari recently did is a ‘photo-op’ moment. He wants to look good. Owner of castles and mansions and penthouses scattered in Europe and US, a mere gesture like a hospital visit for a wounded school girl from Swat is next to nothing.
Pakistani people want smart, sincere and straight talking leaders. They have lived with empty gestures and words for too long.
Leaders who sponge on the nation’s wealth. Authenticity is what they crave for the chiefs at the wheel driving the executive, legislative, judiciary and defence. Ensconced in the Presidency, Prime Minister’s house, Supreme Court and the Army House, the ‘Big Four’ have exhausted their energies in a power-wrangle game instead of lifting the life of their citizens.
The first to go in 2013 is Zardari (September,) followed by General Kayani (November) and last is Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary (December). As for the prime minister — heaven knows how many more we will suffer in one year. Unsung the chiefs will depart. The zero-sum game each played would have ended in the total of all their gains and losses in a zero!
The losers would be the 200 million Pakistanis.
Flashback to a December five years ago when Pakistan lost its last flicker of faith — Benazir Bhutto. She pledged to change herself and the country she failed twice as the prime minister. We waited to be rescued after a 10-year reign of terror by Zia; instead the nation got ripped; it is national wealth stolen. This time BB arrived alone. She died leaving her promise invalidated. Her husband, we were told, was to carry on her mission.
Asif Zardari, had he wanted, could have fulfilled his wife’s wish and earned the blessings of a people living with crushed hopes for far too long. He took the wrong road; not the one BB had vowed to take.
When tragedy strikes, the burden to envelop the nation under one giant umbrella of comfort falls on one person — the president and the supreme commander.
Priming to say goodbye to 2012, the Americans have within a span of two months been twice knocked out by the name ‘Sandy.’
Imagine how a name can sometime be an ill omen. The superstitious among us often thump out the Urdu word munhoose (someone or something that brings bad luck) when hit by a catastrophe or a tragedy. Hurricane Sandy arrived on the East Coast of America on October 29, destroying everything in its path killing more than 100 people, leaving communities in coastal New York and New Jersey homeless. The loss, still being calculated, is in billions.
Federal and state governments were on hand to help the Sandy victims. President Obama along with mayors and governors of New York and New Jersey worked tirelessly to save lives, provide shelter and offer assistance to the neediest. Their visits to the destroyed areas were not photo-ops like the Pakistani leaders whose main motivation is to be accompanied by TV crews and press photographers. But our citizenry is not fooled anymore. The masses see their leaders not as their protectors but empty vassals heavily dependent on the title that props them and the moneybags they own. Strip them of power and their wealth, you will find under their overconfident façade a fraudster.
With Sandy behind Americans, a week later, the television cameras trained themselves on the victory that Obama triumphed.
Twice in two months — after his re-election and the death of 20 kindgarteners, the cameras focused on Obama choke up; hold back his tears that still rolled down as he tried wiping them with his fingers when overcome with emotion. The name ‘Sandy’ struck yet again when a deranged 20-year-old Adam Lanza first killed his mother with the guns she kept at home, then drove off in her car to Sandy Hook Elementary school and massacred 26 in a blink of an eye.
President Obama wept at the news conference immediately after hearing the killings and later when he flew one Sunday to spend private time with the bereaved families. He hugged the parents; kissed their kids and held toddlers in his arms. It was not a president but a father who grieved their loss. Later at the vigil, President Obama broke down as he mentioned each dead child’s name.
Yes, even presidents of America cry. And they are not ashamed of the tears that freely fall from their eyes. Have you ever seen a president or any other big gun in Pakistan cry? Personally, I have no recollection of seeing such an image. In fact it’s the opposite: when Zia hanged Bhutto, his eyes glittered with cruelty; when Zia perished without a trace in a plane crash, none cried except PTV anchor Azhar Lodhi. Watching Lodhi during the so-called funeral procession-turned-tamasha, was the biggest pain in the neck! The man couldn’t stop howling.
One cannot predict good tidings for Pakistan as the year turns and becomes 2013. Until and unless the ‘Big Four’ fade into the sunset, the narrative remains unchanged. The storyline as I have explained is called the ‘Zero sum game’ enacted by each player whose grand total comes to a zippo!
An authentic game changer is what Pakistan requires urgently.