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Dreams of change and the change-seekers

December 20, 2012

Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro
Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro

Everyone dreams of change. Dreams of change occurring within their nation, society, education, development and even their circumstances are both seen by many and shown by some. Electricity, water, gas and other basic amenities of life are becoming extinct. Yet there are still those who continue to show us new dreams of change.

There are those who showed us some dreams before coming into power. When they attained power, they made their dreams come true for themselves. After five years of not being in power, they are now gathering in the election battleground with new dreams. Then, there are those who are proud of themselves of leading the first government of Pakistan that will be completing its full term. The dreams of change that they had shown to us five years ago have been fulfilled for themselves and now they are showing new dreams to people. They are, at present, preparing to show the public new dreams for the next five years on Dec 27.

Some of them have been connected to the chambers of power  forever and have been a part of every change that occurred. They sell dreams to the masses in order to bring a change to their lives. At first, they claimed to bring a change in the city but now they attempt to extend their proposed changes to the entire country by showing the same dreams to the entire country. They are like the urban feudal lords, yet have taken up the responsibility to eliminate feudalism from Pakistan. The city continues to scream; it is bathed in blood everyday. They can make an entire city become deserted, as if no one ever lived here. Two drops of rain that fall in this city can wash off all the progress this city made under them. In the city where people breathe in numbered breaths, the self-proclaimed leaders now show us new dreams at gunpoint.

Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro
Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro

The same dreams were seen by the educated, enlightened sections of Sindh. They realised these dreams in every era through their associations with those in power, whether it was a dictatorship or a so-called public government who has always been the slave of the sayeds, pirs, meers and waderas. They participated in both kinds of governments, allying themselves with revolutionaries, class struggles, the progressives and the nationalists, subsequently bringing about a change in their own lives and homes. Establishment is the other ‘party’ who has dreamt of change in Sindh. It has consistently worked hard over the years to keep all revolutionaries, nationalists and the progressives of Sindh under control.

But this time, it is a young man who has dreamt of bringing about change. He used to address the rallies of Jamiat-ul-Ulema Pakistan – Noorani Group held in Hyderabad. But now he has exchanged his beard for a French cut to become the thinker and the leader of the Sindhi change-seekers of the modern Sindh. But as he is a businessman, he must earn some money along the way so he has stopped spending too much on bringing about change.

This time, the arrogance over their votes in Sindh shown by Sindh’s ‘rulers’ and how they forgot everything in their race for power has made the establishment’s job easier. They can now see their long-standing dream coming true.

The ghoul of Kala Bagh Dam sleeps until it is woken up. Punjab votes for its building and Sindh votes against the proposal. It will never be built but the poor politicians cannot do without it. A trick was played by the establishment in Sindh. The establishment’s old friends, the staunch supporters of dictatorship, allied all the nationalists, progressives, revolutionaries and other activists with the religious parties.

Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro
Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro

All of them have now united under a single pir. All red flags have now become lost under the green ones. All dreams of change have merged into each other. Forget ‘Roti, kapra aur makan’. Obtaining gas, electricity, water and petrol are going to become a dream too. Yet the rulers continue to show us the same old dreams.

The plan is to divide the public into classes, ethnicities and sects in order to reach the assemblies. The previous elections took the sacrifice of Benazir. Everything that happened in Musharraf’s era was repeated in the last five years, but in her name. Only the faces changed. But changing the system is not possible for anyone. The patriarch of the house runs the system without anyone having a say in it. It will always run like this, no matter who comes and goes.

Sindh was always ruled according to the orders from the President House and continues to be ruled by the President House. The assemblies have always been for imprinting thumbprints and still are, despite the degree requirement. There is no room for debate. However, verbal abuse, degrading each other and brandishing one’s shoes threateningly are allowed. All laws are ready for implementation so all you need to do is remain quiet and apply your thumbprint on it. The laws that should have been actually passed remain in pending as no orders have been issued to pass these laws. But a law would be passed in assemblies and implemented overnight if orders are issued.

Seats were reserved for women in the assemblies during Musharraf’s rule. But those seats ended up being occupied by the female relatives of the feudal lords involved in politics. People whose fathers and forefathers had not been graduates managed to get into the assemblies. This way, the family seat remained in the family.

Five years have gone by. The domestic violence bill hasn’t been passed yet because no one is ready to pass it. We won’t be ‘respected’ at home, in front of our family members, thought the assemblies’ members.

A strike was called in Sindh on Nov 30 to protest against the indecent behaviour that two women legislators of a party nurtured by dictatorship were subjected to in the Sindh Assembly. But not once has there been a protest against the indecent behaviour towards the women in Sindh. Nobody has neither discussed nor raised voice for this. The legislators and politicians are not prepared to pass the domestic violence bill because they all protect the culprits who have sexually assaulted women. After all, it is a question of our ‘national honour’.

But the change is coming. If you take a look at the billboards around the city, Benazir and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto are slowly being removed from them. Soon, they will be limited to birth and death anniversaries. If only, the ones who have eaten in their names could take some time out from their activities to focus on their leaders’ ideologies. Those who did have an ideology have now forgotten everything and have gathered under the green flag. The dreams of change are still becoming a reality. The green is dominating the red. By the way, let me tell you secret, the result of mixing green and red is always black.


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.