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The politics of sacrifice

July 06, 2012


-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.

A sacrifice comes in many forms and means many different things – it is offered, as well as accepted. The only difference between an offering and an acceptance of a sacrifice is that of the giver and the taker.

As is shown daily on television these days, the hand that gives is better than the hand that takes. However, here, the situation is reversed. Usually, the sacrifice giver is poor, oppressed, subjugated and somehow predestined to giving sacrifices. Whereas, the sacrifice taker is always happy, healthy, both wealthy and wealthy-looking.

The authority of a sacrifice taker is directly proportional to the number of sacrifice givers backing him, and vice versa. Hence, sacrifice takers now believe that their future will surely be prospective in accordance to the large following of their sacrifice-givers, fueling his power.

Conversely, there are numerous other forms of sacrifice. From hanging political flags on electricity poles to driving around in a political leader’s land cruiser, everyone is giving some sort of a sacrifice.

A good example of a sacrifice giver is Noora. He flung himself on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in an effort to save him from an attack. Then, the whole world watched Noora, who lived near the bank of Phuleli, travel worldwide and meet many Heads of State.

Previously, sacrifices were offered out of passion, and sometimes ignorance. But now, a sacrifice giver knows fully well the cost of a sacrifice. From bringing their leader a drink of water to massaging their head, a sacrifice giver does it all hoping that one day or another their sacrifices will pay off and the sun of truth will rise for them, bringing their dark nights to an end.

Every sacrifice giver has their own sun. And if their desired sun doesn’t rise, they simply switch to another party, offer yet more sacrifices and so, every sacrifice giver is perpetually in search of their own sun.

The sacrifice giver, whether he belongs to the field of journalism, politics or literature, carries with him the story of his sacrifices. Peons, ministers or diplomats – the bigger the sacrifice, the bigger the reward. In fact, it’s almost as if there is a placement bureau set up for those who gave sacrifices in the previous government.

“Brother, so what if I can’t write my own name, I need to be employed as a Custom Officer … and I will settle for nothing lower.”

Whether a medical examination or an engineering examination, in this part of the world it is passed while attending rallies and demonstrations – because anyone knows the true ability really just comes from giving sacrifices. These diligent sacrifice givers are duly reward, they return as heads of the department of their choice. As a result of which those who have actually worked hard to be able to pass their examinations and with flying colors eventually come work under these sacrifice givers.

There is no need to clear the commission exam. There is no need to clear any other additional exam – just become a yes man and watch your problems dissipate. When your leader’s picture is posted, yours will be too and people will begin to notice you and slowly but steadily you will arrive at the top of the list of sacrifice givers!

Of course once the party assumes power, even a body guard becomes a solid candidate for a minister. After all, Sindh is home turf. The rest can be handled by the expert advice of a journalist who will be sure to point you in the ‘right’ direction. No matter if no one knew you before, once that valuable advice is dispensed, top leaders and the DSP of your city will be sure to frequent your neighborhood.

A sacrifice is not merely being imprisoned or killed in a rally, enjoying a trip abroad can also be counted as a sacrifice. And in the case where one is not rewarded for ‘the trip’, one can always just become a Nawaz Sharif for the nation.

Over here, if one is not rewarded for their sacrifices, all hell breaks lose. Whether an artist, a literary personality or a leader, everyone complains about not receiving what they deserve and by default blame the nation for it.

We involuntarily just assume that we are doing the nation a favor by writing a few words and painting a few pictures while on the other hand, the entire unfortunate nation is completely unaware of who Falana Khan is and just how much he is sacrificing for them.

By design, first we reprimand the nation and ask what they have given us, and then we’ll accuse the government. The government, oblivious to our death stares, makes sure everyone is given their due rights; hence after it has had its fill of the food, dutifully passes it on to its relatives, then its acquaintances and finally the sacrifice givers. The leftovers are then distributed amongst the elite. The nation does not receive anything – they are simply expected to offer sacrifices, whether in ignorance or compliance. And all the while the dying nation is giving these sacrifices; it’s hoping that the elite don’t sneeze.

So for Pakistan, what medicine? What cure? And as for education, it warrants change. It will only make the nation knowledgeable.

An all-knowing nation will eliminate the feudals and their systems, signs of equality will start showing. And if such equality were to prevail, who will give sacrifices? And if there are no more sacrifice givers then there will be no more sacrifice takers. After all, the sole existence of sacrifice givers relies on sacrifice takers. One exists because of the other. Surely, you know what happens when the hand that gives becomes the hand that takes …

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.