Line of Ire"
By Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
Tando Mir Mahmood
When an ordinary
individual becomes a victim of misconceived notions
about his place and position in the Universe, his
fallacy can be tolerated because he cannot do much
harm. The situation changes radically when the one
afflicted is someone who guides the destinies of
a country and its people: this spells disaster for
all. The consequences are there for us to see and
Coveting the mantle of statesmen and historical
legends is the easiest part of the job and donning
it too may not prove an insurmountable obstacle
given the compliant nature of courtiers but doing
justice to that position and status is not within
everybody's ambit. It is in the crucible of practice
that unrealistic dreams evaporate.
The spineless sycophants and eloquent courtiers
who inevitably gather round fonts of power weave
their magic on kings and autocrats, they being vulnerable
to the extreme because of their yearning for becoming
living legends and their desire to leave benchmarks
for history. Sooner rather than later they ardently
begin believing what is said to them, sycophants
can convince a person to become a Field Marshal
without his having seen a battle.
Praise and flattery would lead anyone astray but
when practised on a susceptible subject who already
has idealistic notions about his status in the plans
of Providence, considers himself a gift of Providence
and obsessively believes in his 'tryst with destiny',
it proves devastating. It becomes his firm belief
and an integral part of his psyche that without
him the Universe would come to a standstill.
Illusions in the subject become permanent especially
when worked upon by eloquent courtiers of matchless
ability and calibre who are abundantly found in
corridors of power in the Land of Pure. They reinforce
the belief of the subject in his 'tryst with destiny'
and as the chosen one of Providence. Their survival
depends on his survival and with time they become
The book 'In the Line of Fire', though it has become
a bestseller for various reasons, will certainly
put the General 'in the line of ire' of the people
because of his smug, self righteous, confrontational
opinions and assertions about people, events and
situations. Many have been irked by the needlessly
disparaging comments against them. Not many have
been amused by incidents that made the General roll
with laughter. This book is but a symptom of the
deeper fault lines within the system.
I fervently hope that the success in sales doesn't
prompt Simon & Schuster to come up with the
idea of presenting his philosophy in print, if that
happens we will then be able to empathize with the
misery suffered by the Libyan people who have been
tormented with the 'Green Book' of utterings of
late lamented Col. Qaddafi. His avowedly anti-imperialism
rhetoric was given a decent burial quite recently.
The General's book will continue to be the object
of interest as the pearls of wisdom in the sea of
words are analyzed. I on my part would like to restrict
myself to just two points. The first is regarding
the attempt by the General to prove his unflinching
loyalty to the US and his usefulness in the 'war
on terror' by handing over suspects for money to
CIA. The second regarding our lack of spine and
Richard Armitage's comment about bombing us back
to the Stone Age if we did not fall in line.
The former was retracted by the author and the latter
refuted by those to whom it was attributed. In both
cases the value and worth of the book depreciates
significantly and raises the spectre that a lot
more will be recanted and much more will be refuted
with the passage of time. When something is stated
in a book it assumes an aura of finality because
down in time not many will know what was recanted
and refuted. The onus is on the author, the 'ghost
writer' plea notwithstanding.
Bounty hunting is a contemptuous calling for all
except 'soldiers of fortune' and mercenaries and
here it has been accepted as honourable and is paraded
with pride. Aimal Kansi, Yusuf Ramzi, Khalid Sheikh
Mohammad and hundreds of others were handed over
to the CIA for bounty money. To quote the General,
"We've captured 689 and handed over 369 to
the United States. We've earned bounties totalling
millions of dollars. Those who habitually accuse
us of 'not doing enough' in the war on terror should
simply ask the CIA how much prize money it has paid
to the government of Pakistan." Shouldn't we
give these words a standing ovation? Applaud them
to the end of the world.
No self-respecting person or government would wish
to be branded as bounty hunters but we have the
audacity to praise ourselves and even conceitedly
give figures of our sordid and dubious achievements.
Those who have a 'tryst with destiny' act differently.
Extraditions, even if necessary, have to be civilized
and justified; you can't buy and sell people like
cattle for bounties. Little wonder so many unaccounted
disappearances blight the country.
We have to suffer these chosen ones of Providence
who have imposed themselves upon us and do not hesitate
to violate whatever self-respect remains for the
sake of measly and grubby dollars and then arrogantly
thump their chests and slap their backs in self-appreciation.
Their ideology is power and pelf, be it supporting
Taliban or be it the war against them.
In the ‘80s the persons, now handed over for
bounty, were a source of income to them as US and
the Arab world footed the bills and sent their unwanted
elements here to pursue their agendas. When the
tables turned the same individuals became a source
of income but in another way - bounty money. They
were the first to recognise the Taliban and the
quickest to drop them like a hot potato. Not that
they deserved to be supported but going back on
your avowed policy so fast is as hard as their spin
doctors may try no where will the element of principles
or moral values creep into the equation. Here self-respect,
sovereignty, dignity and pride are commodities for
sale to the highest bidder. Principle and values
be damned, give us our much cherished dollars.
Now to the subject of threat by the US: Is this
the spine that we never tire of flaunting and parading
with examples of valour of past Muslim personalities?
The preposterous claim 'I war gamed with America
as an adversary' is as childish and naïve as
it is ridiculous.
To war game US as an adversary a certain type of
psyche and training is required and our institutions
certainly do not nurse and nurture that kind. It
requires a Che Guevara or a Gen. Nguyen Giap to
war game US and to defeat it in Bay of Pigs and
Vietnam. Our leaders aren't made out of that stuff.
To acquiesce is our second nature, particularly
when acquiescence tends to add longevity and lucre
to our political lives. Dreams are made of a different
Those who have 'tryst with destiny' transcend the
ordinary; they have characters that distinguish
between the greats and the run-of-the-mill leaders.
They rise above the pettiness of power, its glamour,
misuses and abuses and its accompanying trappings.
They enlighten the world not with enlightened moderation
or some such ploy but with the force of their unimpeachable
and untarnished character and integrity. They need
no garb military or official to stamp their authority
on the world and move it forward, they move it by
force of example. They exercise authority but san
armed hoodlums to back them up. Their personal integrity
and propriety and decorum in use of power or finances
are unquestionable and unimpeachable. Their sagacity
in decisions and in conduct is impeccable; the veracity
of their words is unchallengeable.
Hello! Know anyone in the Establishment here with
these characteristics and Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara
and Nelson Mandela come to mind as examples. They
are the true role models. Such people deserve to
rise and should rise here too. But unfortunately
there is an incontrovertible truth in a law of physics
that it is the 'hot air' that rises the fastest.
Sadly this law also holds true in the law of politics
as practiced here in the Land of Pure.