The Season of Subtraction

Published May 30, 2013 12:30pm

Illustration by Khuda Bux Abrro
Illustration by Khuda Bux Abrro
There is no season in our country for the katoti. It doesn’t even stop in winters, so why cry over the katoti in summer. But this time, it has increased and will continue to do so. Just before the election, the politicians promised an end to it. The resulting public applause resonated in their ears so loudly that they forgot themselves as they continued to bask in the praise. But now as they stand on the threshold of power, they are dissociating themselves from their earlier promises of ending the katoti. According to them, those promises were made hastily and it’s not easy to end this problem. Let’s see if the one who instigated the riots against katoti in his own government in order to deteriorate the law and order situation, does the same this time or will he call in the law enforcement agencies to do that for him.

This poor innocent nation is now used to getting lost within the labyrinths of the politicians’ latest slogans. The nation had anticipated to enter the new Pakistan the day after they had cast their vote. But this new Pakistan is moving increasingly further away from us. To enter into the new Pakistan, we require Taliban’s permission, which it still hasn’t given yet. So how could we enter the new Pakistan? Initially, we didn’t even have their permission to hold the election as according to them, it was against our religious doctrines. Elections were only allowed for those few parties who are slightly more religious than the rest. But the public ignored them and came out to exercise their right to vote, publicly disagreeing with the Taliban.

Congratulations to all those who succeeded in the polls, whether it’s their first, second or third victory. But nobody is prepared to tell us what they plan to do about the katoti. Will we ever see a day without its torment? Apparently, the katoti is now going to spread to other sectors as Pakistan is in dire need of budget cuts in most sectors, with the exception of the defence institutions because nobody has the guts to consider cutting their budget as it would be tantamount to treason. But it’s okay to implement budget cuts in all other areas.

Every new government begins its term to find its coffers empty. The previous government spent a memorable last day in power emptying out the coffers so now the new government would have to support the economy from scratch and exempting the defence institutions. Mian Sahab must take each step with great caution. He has already gathered those people around him who settle down wherever they find a corpse. And these people are still not finished. Sometimes they change their names and sometimes their parties (ideologies don’t matter to them anyway). They must get as near to the living corpse as possible anyhow so they can gnaw as much flesh as possible off it.

It’s still possible to breathe life into this living corpse. The passion, dedication and sincerity with which the public cast their votes on May 11 could make the corpse walk again. The katoti should be done where it’s needed the most. Instead of cuts in basic amenities, electricity, water and gas, the katoti should be made to the profits that enable these profiteers to have their head up in clouds. The number of ministries should be cut because the nation can easily operate with fewer. After the army of ministers in the previous government left, the country was run by a small number of caretaker ministers, so therefore, it can continue in the same way in the new government.

The last government was in the hands of plunderers and looters. For God’s sake, let go of these plundering habits now and adopt some economising measures. Instead of emptying the pockets of the poor to line your own, empty your own pockets instead because you have stuffed your pockets enough. Now it’s your turn to put in some individual contribution into our economy. We get electricity bills when our electricity hasn’t even been restored. The bills aren’t for the electricity we have used but for the amount you use in your houses. If we can’t pay our bills, our electricity connections are cut, even if our bills are a few thousand rupees, while you can get yourself exempted from paying utility bills worth lacs of rupees. Either that or there’s a new connection waiting for you.

Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro
Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro

Mian Sahab! It’s time all of this stopped and you discarded all the rubbish you’ve collected around you, just to increase your numbers, as it’s not going to help you. They will take you down, just like they took everybody else down with them. For once, believe in your vote bank and the sheer strength you possess. We have already heard the tune of reconciliation and have seen its consequences. By all means, feel free to complete your numbers but please don’t repeat the same game. It would be better if you don’t. You have gotten your third turn so you can give something back to the people, instead of taking everything from them again. You’ve already taken much from the masses, so it’s better if you give something back to this nation this time.

There is a lot more than roads, bullet train, metro bus or bomb blasts that you can give to this nation. For instance, education, employment, commerce and most importantly, you can deliver the masses from all the plundering, hooliganism and terrorism that has flourished with the consent and assistance. If you can stop them, many things can be prevented from happening. Let the poor earn their bread with dignity. At first, they weren’t safe outside their homes, but now they aren’t even safe inside. At least implement measures that would make a decent person safe inside his or her home.

All the votes you and Khan Sahab received this time weren’t for you but for this country. Those votes were cast for ending the katoti; they were cast against the looters and those who rob us of our votes at gunpoint. The votes were cast in resistance to the hooliganism and terrorism, as well as against those who used nationalism, religion and sectarianism to divide this nation and considered the divided masses their vote banks. By now, all of them should have become aware of this and especially you, as the burdens on your shoulders are by far the greatest as compared to the burdens on your colleagues’ shoulders.

Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro
Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro

If nobody understands the public’s vote and its voice this time and continues to consider the country their private property, things would go on as they always have and these 100 days would be not enough. The public has voted extremely cautiously this time and I hope you would also exercise great caution in fulfilling the promises you made to the people. The people came out of their homes on May 11 to cast their votes and will come out again too because now they know the consequences of waiting for hours in scorching heat to cast their vote. I am sure you are aware of Bhai Sahab’s condition!


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The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (9) Closed




Riaz Ahmad
May 30, 2013 03:00pm

PTI can play a very important role, they should get monthly utility bill data in KP and put it on their website, the people and parties who are stealing power or not paying the bills. If people do not see accountability in action, they should surround the KP parliament building till it is done. Your politician are champions of false promises, but now you the people must remain one step ahead of them, make their life impossible till they deliver on every promise. YOU HAVE SUFFERED ENOUGH, WITH PEACEFUL AND POSITIVE ACTION, YOU CAN SAVE YOURSELVES AND YOUR COUNTRY..

Parvez
May 30, 2013 03:08pm

How clearly and well you have spelt it out...........now if only someone high up in the PML-N could........sorry, would just read it.

Interested
May 30, 2013 05:11pm

After reading the article... not clear whats katoti? Load shedding, budgetary cuts, taxes, inflation... or a generic term for all these...

Tahir
May 30, 2013 05:14pm

Sorry not being Urdu literate, have I missed out on the description of "katoti" explained somewhere in your article

Pakistan
May 30, 2013 06:07pm

We are all good at scrutinizing, pointing out problems and raising questions but could some body just come up with a solution as well.... as far as Taliban are concerned they are a bitter reality of Pakistan, we have fundamentalism in our roots and our brains are infested with fundamentalism. Madressah culture in our streets is evidence of this , so we can't extract our roots , we have to some how treat the problem without disrupting the society. As far promises made near elections are concerned they were need of the hour, I always knew this problem can't be eliminated over short period of time.... problem will be addressed in stages Inshallah so please show some patience don't jump to conclusions.

Junaid
May 30, 2013 07:28pm

@Tahir :Literally, katoti means discount. In the context of usage here, it refers to discounting the errors of those close to the ministers.

Junaid
May 30, 2013 07:30pm

Literally, katoti means discount. In the context of usage here, it refers to discounting the errors of those close to the ministers.

AA
May 30, 2013 09:34pm

Right on spot. Bravo!

Hopeful
May 31, 2013 02:04am

Hope some one with right mind reads this article to Mian saheb!!! First of all give us "RULE OF LAW" ,Corruption free society, health and education for common man... bullet trains & everything else will automatically fall on its own track. Thank you Mr Abro