Expecting different results…

Published April 2, 2022
The writer is a Karachi-based lawyer.
The writer is a Karachi-based lawyer.

I HAVE been closely following the extremely insightful commentary and discourse on the no-confidence motion and the legalities that surround it. I have read riveting articles on Article 63A of the Constitution of Pakistan, which offer ‘bendy’ and creative interpretations that could put a gymnast to shame. I have also witnessed a titillating discussion on the voting timeline for the no-confidence motion, a discussion that has seen so many permutations and combinations that any mathematician could die proud.

I have read about how Prime Minister Imran Khan’s days are numbered, how his political career has ended, how autocracy has been defeated and how the joint opposition has delivered a master stroke. One side is telling me that democracy is in danger, whilst the other is celebrating democracy’s triumph. One side condemns the opposition as being part of an international conspiracy, and the other targets the government, accusing it of working on a Jewish agenda.

Be that as it may, in this polarised debate on the no-confidence motion, Imran Khan’s political future and the opposition’s democratic credentials, it is safe to say that we are losing the plot so to speak, or in other terms, losing sight of the real questions that deserve attention. What questions, you may ask. Well, for starters, what has suddenly changed that has resulted in the current state of ‘no-confidence’? Is this parliament’s final act of expressing no confidence in Imran Khan’s leadership, or does this lack of confidence in him stem from somewhere else? Even otherwise, are these events cause for celebration?

Let us not forget that Imran Khan had been making blunders from the very beginning, the opposition has been trying to oust him virtually from his first day in office, and the credibility of the defectors was never really beyond reproach — in other words, their loyalties were always questionable. And yet, he was going nowhere. So why is he going now?

We should all hope for a better tomorrow when we actually awaken from our slumber.

Many say it is because of the establishment’s ‘neutrality’. Neutrality implies a lack of alliance with any particular side or a lack of preference for any one over another. It is always good for institutions to be considered neutral and to act as such as well. But a painstaking and consistent attempt to ensure one’s neutrality, along with efforts to emphasise it at every stage, also indicates something else.

It alludes to the fact that the new-found position of neutrality is exactly that: new-found. It appears in negation to the erstwhile policy of non-neutrality or, at the very least, the tolerance of partiality. Obviously, if I proclaim to be neutral today, it would be reasonable for someone to think, rightly or wrongly, that I am shifting away from a partisan position to an indifferent one. After all, if I were neutral from the beginning, why would I have to announce it every now and then?

Secondly, neutrality today does not mean there will be neutrality tomorrow. It may simply mean that in the totality of circumstances, in the prevailing situation of the country, it is better to stay aloof and do one’s job as opposed to getting caught up in the quagmire of political intrigue. But that ‘could’ change. For that matter, at some point in time, it may be felt that that ‘needs’ to change. In essence, this may simply be a temporary phase and not a ‘forever’ decision.

Read: The neutrality of neutrals

And there is reason to suspect that things are not actually turning a corner, but rather, coming full circle. Nothing has really changed since the last intervention. Our economy is still in the dumps, our currency is still losing value, no large-scale reforms have taken place, our politicians are still considered corrupt and incompetent, justice is still a pipe dream, our masses are still deprived of basic education and sustenance, and the power structures are still skewed in favour of the unelected and against the elected.

The game of musical chairs continues, our prime ministers continue to not complete their terms, our judiciary appears divided, our debts continue to soar, our internal divisions continue to increase, and our disdain and lack of respect for the role of our past in changing our future is palpable to the point of being disheartening. The puppets cheer for the new champions of democracy today and shall support their replacements tomorrow. In fact, they’d even cheer for the puppets who will eventually replace them. Sadly, it’s more of the same. We just fail to see it, again and again and again.

We seem to relish deluding ourselves and continue to live in the theatre of the absurd, where we do the same things over and over again and expect different results. Albert Einstein called this insanity, but we in Pakistan call it a ‘revolution’, or in some circles, the ‘presidential system’. You may chuckle or grimace on reading this, depending on your worldview, but sadly, there is truth to it.

Be that as it may, we should all hope for a better tomorrow when we actually awaken from our slumber and own up to our absurdities. A slumber so deep that we can’t even see how we are killing this country and its people with our own petty version of the game of thrones, and absurdities so absurd that even national interest now appears to be a national joke.

Let’s hope that when such a time comes, when we finally wake up and pledge to improve, when the clouds part miraculously and the sun shines down without a care in the world, we are willing and ready to seek the treatment we need to get better, get sane, and not, for heaven’s sake, to get even.

The writer is a Karachi-based lawyer.
basil.nabi@gmail.com
Twitter: @basilnabi

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2022

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