NOTES FROM A SOCIAL SCIENTIST
“…Who is stopping them?”
By Dr. Haider Mehdi
“Our time of awareness is a lightening flash
A blinding interval in which to know and suffer.”
Mirza Ghalib, translated by Adrienne Rich
Consider it the ultimate blinding lightening
flash or a slap in the face of the nation, or whatever your intellect or political affiliation allows you to believe, the title of this column is a verbatim quote of Pakistan’s convicted Prime Minister, in response to a question asked by a CNN interviewer in London recently. The British interviewer had sought the PM’s opinion on media reports that a sizable number of Pakistanis wanted to leave the country because of rampant corruption, political and fiscal mismanagement, breakdown of law and order, safety and security concerns, and lack of appropriate governance in the country. The convicted Prime Minister, in a matter of fact manner, and with an air of absolute belief in his judgment on the question, quipped “And why don’t they leave…Who is stopping them?”
Let me take you back in time a bit: Marie Antoinette, queen of France, married to Louis XVI, when informed that the people of France had no bread to eat, purportedly said, “Let them eat cake.” This was prior to the French Revolution (1789) when eventually the French people, tired of poverty, deprivations, class society, bad governance, corruption and massive excesses of the nobles and ruling elite, publicly beheaded them.
But that was the 18th century. France was a monarchy. Queen Marie Antionette’s response was rooted in her ignorance and alienation from the people of France. What else could have been expected of a ruling monarch that considered the common French citizens as their “subjects,” entitled to no better treatment or rights than “slaves” and whatever the monarchy willed it to be. Indeed, the king/queen was the embodiment and the law unto themselves – France was king and queen, and king and queen were France – French people existed at their pleasure and perished at their will – and that was that.
In recent times, Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Emperor of Iran, the “darling” of the West and their front “henchman” in the Middle East, prior to the Iranian People’s Revolution in 1979, is reported to have “asked his opponents in Iran to leave HIS country if they did not like him.” This showed the incredible ignorance and preposterous arrogance of a Shahan-shah who, intoxicated with power and wealth, considered himself omnipotent — Reza Pahlavi was Iran and Iran was Reza Pahlavi. The state existed for the emperor, and the emperor was the state. In this mental disposition of alarming political and conceptual “madness,” Reza Shah’s personal view of “state” and its citizens is understandable – that is, if one is inclined to believe that a nation can be governed by a ruling elite and its leadership that is gruesomely insane and grotesquely suffers from a complete and lurid lunacy.
The question is: What is Yousef Raza Gillani’s excuse? This is May 2012. Supposedly, Pakistan is a democratic country. The convicted Prime Minister was elected by a democratically-elected parliament – and the Prime Minister’s conviction came after due process of law in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Understandably, logically and rationally, that is if one believes in democratic norms, the citizens of Pakistan are not the “subjects” of the incumbent PPP ruling regime or its Prime Minister. The “state” of Pakistan is not Yousef Raza Gillani, nor is Yousef Raza Gillani, the Pir from Multan, the state or law unto himself. Citizens of Pakistan are entitled to full civil, political, legal and democratic rights, and no one, not even a sitting Prime Minister, has the moral-ethical-political authority to tell them Well, you don’t like me, then leave the country. Who is stopping you? Read the rest of this entry »