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The hungry ones

October 18, 2012

Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro

There are those who sit on the throne of power enjoying the bounties of ruling and then there are those who are still far from achieving a spot in the governance and have been eying the throne, getting thinner as they wait for their turn on the throne.

The one waiting for his turn on the throne often gets disoriented due to this hunger but continues making sacrifices upon sacrifices in the hope that he will be able to sit upon the throne of power one day. Those drunk on the power of governance, who are at present constantly accusing the ones not in power of being selfish towards the country, will continue to assert that only they can take Pakistan to the heights of progress – the turns keep changing, not their statements. The ones not in power always give the same statements against those in power; and those in power never change their statements either.

There is another, however, who cannot be kept away from the throne of power as he has a hidden control without whose assistance no one can even think of coming to power. His hunger is never-ending and he belongs to the sada suhaagan; the hungriest of them all. She always satisfies her hunger before anyone else, then she might throw around a few leftover bones, a couple of morsels to the rest of the hungry ones. She gobbles down the whole budget and doesn’t even burp.

When the leaders of this naked, hungry nation are not in power, they give statements upon statements about the sada suhaagan and oppose it in order to attain power. When they manage to attain power with her “blessings”, their statements change accordingly. Then it is them who become the guardians of her interests, even going to a point where they render those who oppose the sada suhaagan. This game has been going on for so long and seems to be never-ending – the turns keep changing, the problems stay the same. Every time we think: “This time we will move two steps forward!” We just end up moving four steps back.

They try to satisfy their hunger by providing the public with attractive slogans, creating various divisions between them. The public, oblivious of all these games, keeps screaming on the roads, all the while priding themselves on the fact that they sent Ayub and Musharraf back home and can use their vote once again to send whoever else they want back to their homes too. The current leaders came on the strength of the public’s vote, or so the public likes to think.

Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro

What the public doesn’t know is that if they asked to sit on the throne of power tomorrow, they would start spouting the same rubbish; shouting those same rote-learned speeches. They will say exactly what the goddess of power wants them to say. The ones who come into power will speak like the ones who are not in power only for the two weeks of their reign. Later as their hunger starts to be satisfied, their tongues start to slip, serving as a reminder of the masses’ mistake. “Look, who you sent into the Assembly.”

Only the turns change; the public keeps on making the same mistake. Whoever stands by their side on the roads keeps them believing they have his support. But when that person loses themselves in the mazes of power, the public turns away and begins to follow somebody else who is prepared to stand beside them on the roads. If anyone comes into power, it is only because they wish to satisfy their hunger and on the condition that the public be kept hungry. After all, once the public’s hunger is satisfied, they will make things difficult for those in power.

Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro

At first the public managed to get three meals a day but now they yearn for a single meal, deeply entangled in the quest of sustenance and employment. When the common man or woman comes home, exhausted after a long day, he/she finds that there is no electricity at home and if there is electricity, then he/she is sat down and overwhelmingly told by the TV about who was killed, who is a kafir, who is the real traitor, who is the enemy of the faith. The public has been led into web, entangling them into less important issues so that no one is able to focus on the real issues of the country, like unemployment and poverty. The masses are involved in issues that do not actually concern them and will not bring about any change to their situation. The public is compelled to come out on the roads to protest against these useless issues and for them they will burn down cinemas and cars.

The invasion of such problems into the television, radio and social media has kept the public entangled. One doesn’t even die down, when the next crops up. Be it sada suhaagan, or a politician, an officer or even a businessman, they’re all silently attempt to satiate their hunger. Deals are being made overnight. Prices decrease one day and increase the next day. Trillions of rupees are taken out in the public’s name, in your name, so that loans upon loans can be taken out for your “welfare”. Not only are you in debt but your unborn future generations are all in debt too.

Previously, the hungry used to only line up at the nihari shops, outside the Abdullah Shah Ghazi or Data Darbar; they would somehow manage a meal or two. Now they all line up anywhere and everywhere; and the line just keeps getting longer every day. On one hand, there is an abundance of righteous people, whereas the numbers of the poor are increasing day by day. They don’t provide employment opportunities to the poor, which would teach the latter to work hard for a living. Instead if someone has any amount of strength, the next best thing to do is picking up weapons, snatching and looting. If not, standing in a line for free food after killing their dignity is the best they can do. If not even that, then they could join the “big beggars”. Then they can travel the world with a begging bowl. If the hungry are already lined up outside the assemblies and the corridors of power, then why should there not be lines of people on the streets too? One is earning divine rewards by attempting to provide free food to people, whereas the other is shedding tears over the loss of his dignity by standing in a line to get that free food.

The public stands on the roads awaiting change as they send one hungry lot after the other in to the corridors of power - the turns keep changing, the hunger never dies.

Let’s see who the public takes on a tour of the corridors of power this time; let's watch from the roads, as they satiate their hunger.


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.