Is dystopia a literary genre or a lived reality? And what qualifies as a dystopia? Can the status quo and status quo ante in this country be called a dystopia? While all and sundry are in agreeance that the Republic has run amok some of us still believe in false truths like the decade of prosperity that was the 1960s.
Disabusing Pakistanis of their myths and fixing the collective amnesia is usually reminiscent of the proverbial banging head against a wall, but one should believe in a human’s ability, per se, to let go of their untenable beliefs when provided proof of their falsifiability.
The good old 60s when dams like Mangla and Tarbela dam were built by the funds given by India, World Bank, and a bunch of other Commonwealth countries because the dictator relegated control of three of the country’s rivers. The land reforms were just another hoax. The Green Revolution that enabled high-yield cereals was made feasible by American scientists, and not our Field Marshal. Assets that were mainly held by 22 wealthy clans, and Islamabad–a city under construction– where the smell of East Pakistan’s jute was palpable in the air.
The 1950s was another decade marred by the palace intrigues, the judiciary sanctioning illegal overthrow of the elected assemblies and sullying itself in the process, and the gang of three brownnosing US for supplies. Similarly, the 70s, 80s, 90s, and so on can be described by a bollixed up version of the same banalities and cliches.
The Anna Karenina Principle tells us that, “each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” What it doesn’t tell us is that some families, while they survive, stay unhappy because they stay obsessed with neighbors are waiting for some serendipity, or keep on whining ad addendum.
The messiah that we chose in 2018 to resuscitate the system taught us that there are no quick-fixes –or jugaads– to a system that was built on undercutting democracy and the social contract. Post-modernists can argue against these grandiloquent master-narratives, however, scholarship agrees that to understand where we are today and how we got here needs an understanding of the same narratives as the incessant need for foreign aid, the relationship between the deep state and Islamic pressure groups, and the military co-opting every institution in the country to become the Leviathan it is today.
- A. Jinnah didn’t bring a messy democracy, a breed of Frankenstein monsters, and a perturbed civil-military equation in a pandora box with him from Bombay. These maladies were sowed in the ground that was prolific to their growth at various points in our history. Whenever a decision gets taken there are people who warn us of the adverse effects of the decision, but the power-wielders are too short-sighted, self-interested, or downright evil to give a damn.
When Hindu members of the first Constituent Assembly inveighed against the Objective Resolution and requested that a motion be moved to elicit the public response they were not listened to, and Liaqat Ali Khan poured a smokescreen of words browbeating the concerns of minority members.
The country has been on a rampage from 12th March 1949 in undercutting everything that is a recipe for liberal democracy. A real course-correction will need that we reckon the barrage of mistakes that were made, from Objective Resolution to letting the Taliban run their self-styled sharia-based republics in the country. All of that eventually led to the radicalization of the entire country from top to bottom.
Every problem in this country should be viewed against a backdrop of an omnipotent military chipping away the power of civilian institutions and religious fanaticism. Violence against any shade of minority, be it under the garb of purging and protecting religion or muzzling dissenting voices because they don’t share Milord’s version of national interests kill the purpose of a state that was formed to protect us from living in another state that would be unjust to us in the same spirit this one is. I mean, look at us now. Dystopia, like everything when left to itself, begets dystopia.