Pakistan is clutched tightly by the cohort of generals, feudals and industrialists and their cronies, our homegrown Troika. The system or the lack of it is well suited to the Troika, yet from time to time, when the resentment inflates to a certain extent, the air is let out through up for hire charlatans. Zaid Zaman Hamid along with Ahmed Qureshi where hired for these services by our latest savior, General Parvaiz Musharaf.
So, how do these characters fit the scheme? What is the purpose of having these mouthpieces, (at times) voluntary preachers? Before we take this avenue let us first assess our environment. Today, decadence, humiliation, exploitation, (price) inflation, corruption, lack of values, depleted morality, intolerance and social disintegration – a great confusion – is rampant in our society. The self proclaimed puritans of the land of pure are giving sermons and speeches around these subjects, subsequently, aggravating the confusion. Differences of opinion, the hallmark of human progress, are shunted as intolerance and frustration peaks. Everyone becomes a party and starts yapping and dismissing others as ill-intentioned or ill-equipped.
Despair, decline, scarcity, confusion and an urge to change are the traits which charlatans relish on. The power of fantasy is so overwhelming that people rarely believe their problems as a result of their misdeeds and stupidity. There is always someone, something to blame – the others, rulers, enemies, etc. Salvation becomes the immediate need and more appropriately the most profound vulnerability. Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) encapsulate the situation as “Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived”.
Let us now look at the core objective of having a hired or voluntary propagandist. These charlatans, through their extempore further ignite the emotions, making it impossible for rationale, strategic and visionary thinking to be exercised. They provide far fetched goals, though highly luminous yet unachievable. There is no clear cut time frames or timelines rather an endless lists of tasks and sub tasks. This provides ample room to con-artists (politicians) and the purest and most superior, the infallible generals to conduct business as usual.
Over the ages charlatans have perfected the art of deceit and although we know their pricks it takes us a while to realize when we ourselves are victimized. They come and deprive us of rationality, clear thinking and judgment. Grete de Francesco, a Swiss journalist, after studying a good number of such characters concluded, “The charlatan achieves his great power by simply opening a possibility for men to believe what they already want to believe …. The credulous cannot keep at a distance; they crowd around the wonder worker, entering his personal aura, surrendering themselves to illusion with a heavy solemnity, like cattle”.
They hit us with a combination of simple ideas expressed in vague terms, camouflaging their statements while engaging our minds through teasers. There is always something big, something profound, a higher calling that only a man of higher cadre and contemporary thinking (the charlatan himself) is capable to comprehend. They undermine the intellectual amongst us to the more visual and sensual, the former being more prone to skepticism are not easy targets. The source of income is always kept a secret and there seems to be no accounts for expenses incurred in propagation and promotion of the mission. After attracting a certain number of dupes the charlatan adds an Us-vs-Them dynamic to intensify loyalties and strengthen cohesion.
They divide our intellingtsia, which in turn spirals into infighting amongst them and those who feel elevated enough to be part of this war of words are engaged with non-issues or convinced to direct their attention on issues of higher degree, bearing no implications on the matters at hand yet perceived as the root cause. The worst part is that our emotional instability and hot headedness facilitate these self proclaimed messiahs (Zaid Zaman Hamid and Company) to engage our masses and utilize their energies as they deem fit.
In our lust for change we simply parted ways with rationality. Through out the last month and a half, Pakistan emerge victorious, as there was hardly any day without a lie been caught, folly been exposed, claims refuted and their idiosyncrasies revealed. We, atleast some of us, experience one of the phases of denial, realization, acceptance and vengeance. At this last phase, we become the voluntary soldiers of the “troika” which planted, if not, than certainly nurtured them, taking care of their (Establishment’s) unfinished business.
So what Zaid did was nothing new but his phenomenal success is largely attributed to our (masses’) ignorance. As the curtain falls on this theatrical, we should reflect and analyze our learning, if there is any. Will this chapter end here? Will we rewrite the script? Did we come all this way after a certain someone (in affection or vengeance)? Are we nearing the end of enlightenment and awakening with the departure of this peculiar someone? Are we resolute in our quest for change or was it all blind fellowship?
Aye mere watan ke fankaro (maimaron), zulmat pe na apna fan waro
Ye mehl sara’on ke baasi, qatil hain sabhi apne yaro
Wirsay main hamain yeh gham hai mila, iss gham ko nayaa kia likhna
Zulmat ko zia, sarsar ko saba, banday ko Khuda kia likhna