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April 4th is here again

April 04, 2013

Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro

It is April 4 again today; the same April 4 that our crippled democracy, which later became deaf and blind too, had turned into a public holiday when it came into power. This day has been celebrated as a holiday for five years. The provincial caretaker government continued the tradition and today is a public holiday once again. This was the first holiday that the democratic government announced and was followed by a whole myriad of holidays later. Not only the birth and death anniversaries of its two martyrs were celebrated but Sindh’s Suriyeh Badshah was also embraced to accommodate the Functional league and announced two holidays for the Eid Milad-un Nabi to keep the Sunni Tehreek agreeable, according to a reconciliation policy.

At least a week before April 4, the city is decorated with billboards that feature pictures of the public’s blind and deaf representatives whose faces keep getting bigger than Bhutto and Benazir’s pictures. In fact, the pictures of Bhutto and Benazir are slowly disappearing from the billboards. Sometimes, neither of the Bhuttos are seen on the billboards now, nor do there remain any people to say their names. Only those who have access to former Nawabshah’s ex-nazima, who handles all matters as she is the sister, remain.

She was powerless when she was the nazima because the real power lay with the deputy nazim. But when her brother became the president and the Supreme Court began to focus on him, she began handling all matters of political maneuvering and transactions. The remaining powers went to the adopted brother. Party workers and leaders were now only responsible for implementing the commands issued from the top. The party whose politics was of the people had now relieved itself of the people. Only the people who can haul in immense capital (in the name of reconciliation for their poor party, of course!) have the privilege to represent the public.

The public will do what it’s meant to do. The poor souls have no other power except the right to vote, which is in danger of being taken away by the same pickpockets. For five years, the country was run by drawing-room politics and transactions in the name of reconciliation. Now they want votes while they sit in their drawing rooms.

Neither Bhutto remains nor Benazir. This time if you see Benazir’s posters anywhere, you’ll also see ‘Syed Ovais Muzaffar’ written on them, a name that none of the poor party workers have heard of throughout their struggle. But how would they know that this is the same man, commonly known as ‘Tappi’ and who runs the affairs of Sindh after the sister? But now measures are being taken to bring him into power through votes as the court and the public have begun to ask who Tappi is.

Photo by Khuda Bux Abro
Photo by Khuda Bux Abro

The courts, as well as Mian Sahab, are also quiet about the return of an absconder involved in several cases. Neither Mr Chief Justice is ready to take notice of it, nor is Mian Sahab ready to spill the beans. Chief Sahab, the poor soul, takes notice in only those matters where he’s allowed to do so. He’s perfectly aware of the power of the uniform and always treads carefully in these matters. He leaves them alone and instead gives justice to politicians and bureaucrats. As no political government exists now, his focus is on the Election Commission, which he wants to be followed by. He also wants to take credit for ensuring free and fair elections and has already expressed his wish to do so.

Look how I started from April 4th and ended up talking about the court. But what to do when this date was actually gifted to us by the court? All topics of conversation lead to the courts. The court can hide its face and make big promises as much as it wants to but those who cannot be touched by them roam around fearlessly. Those who are protected by the real possessors of power cannot be harmed in any way.

Photo by Khuda Bux Abro
Photo by Khuda Bux Abro

Today, the offices in Sindh shall remain closed just like they have been for the past five years. Fearing that there might not be a large-scale rally on the occasion, the party simply announced that the rally shan’t take place, saying that the party leaders are too busy with the election campaign to address a rally. The billboards with ministers’ photos sprout up across the city around April 4, not with their ‘halal’ earnings but with those of others. These billboards are absent this time and the city looks deserted without them.

Those who were leaving relinquished their last holiday in order to ensure that they took the maximum amount with them when they left because even they don’t think they’ll be back. A saying goes, ‘bhagte chor ki langoti bhi achi’. Similarly, these gentlemen have taken the outgoing government’s langoti away with them. Now let’s see what these caretakers do. All that is expected of them is that they get the elections done within 40 days as they can’t do anything else.

Be it April 4th or December 27th, the public continues to observe these because the leaders it was bestowed with were taken away from them. However, there are many parties and leaders who believe in reconciliation or are ready for it at all times. This time though, there is a huge game being played. The enemies have joined each other’s parties and everyone is the same now, no difference at all. Everyone knows about each other’s strengths and weaknesses perfectly well. They will all enter the legislative assemblies through votes and then use reconciliation again to run the country, just like they did previously.

Only they aren’t supposed to look in the forbidden direction. Everybody is going to eat together and run this country in any possible manner because at this moment, the nation needs to exist. Our poor public, meanwhile, can manage to live their lives. You know that problems, slogans, rallies and protests are the beauty of democracy and will, therefore, outlive any other ideology.

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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.