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The legend of the phoenix

Raoof Hasan
Saturday, Dec 02, 2023

The qualities associated with the legend of the phoenix are symptomatic of our times in an uncanny manner: that each phoenix lives for 500 years and there is only one phoenix living at a time. When it’s time is up, it will build a nest and set itself on fire for a new phoenix to rise from the ashes. In simple words, it is a legend of self-infliction leading to the birth of new life. Does it stir your imagination?

The process of self-infliction cannot be born out of pursuing a pragmatic strategy. It usually is the result of faulty thinking which, inadvertently but often, results in causing severe damage to the orchestrators, yet the possibility of making a personal sacrifice leading to the birth of new life remains lurking. Where we are parked today reminds one of a juncture amidst sprawling wilderness with the path that would lead us forward remaining elusive.

This is not the first time we have landed in such a situation. It is often that we have confronted similar circumstances in the past, yet the graph of our learning has shown little improvement as we have continued to sink deeper into a fathomless pit owing to an absence of a variety of implements which are needed to steer one’s way out of trouble. These encompass conducting a proper evaluation of the problem/s faced and the reasons why they are there, and then move on to script the framework of a remedial strategy and mechanism that would not only bring immediate relief, but also chisel the contours of a well-thought-out plan that would deliver long-term sustainable solutions.

At a different level, it would also require a process of speedy accountability and justice to be deeply embedded in the system that is practised, coupled with a resolve to always remain within the parameters of law with no exceptions irrespective of power or pelf that one may command. It is this collective subservience to the dictates of the constitution and the laws that flow from it that would spell the difference between nations that are inflicting damage upon themselves, and those which are on course to progress and eminence.

We are perched with the former category. We have been there for long and, going by visible indications and intents, we have exhibited little will to walk out of the quagmire. In fact, we are either insensitive to the problems that we are surrounded with or, being their direct or indirect beneficiaries, we are not interested in tailoring any kind of change which would put the fruits of corruption beyond our reach. Thus, we are caught up in the trajectory of a free fall without even an inkling of where we are going to land and how we would be able to steer ourselves to safer sojourns beyond the pale of trouble.

What matters for most of us are the immediate dividends that we are reaping owing to a combination of creating a class beyond the reach of law, application of discriminatory justice and brutal liquidation of state institutions. This has enabled a miniscule beneficiary class to continue enjoying lucrative fallouts to the deprivation of a vast majority of the country’s population that languishes on the fringes of life.

Intellectual and moral collapse have led to this disastrous situation which, apparently, is only worsening with time with no concern or remedy in sight. It is as if this has been accepted as fait accompli. Attempts are always underway to partake of illicit benefits filtering through the caveats intentionally left there for stealing state assets. The more powerful individuals have wide holes to suck in their stock of pelf while the weaker sections of society fight desperately for their measly morsels to survive another day. This makes for a humiliating spectacle which has denuded people of their dignity as they go around holding begging bowls in the fading hope of securing another meal for their family.

The question is whether we can survive endlessly in this state or is there limited time available for us to make amends for the dastardly things we have done in the past. Unfortunately, we persist in our unworthy habits even now without as much as a modicum of realization that it is a downhill trajectory that we are riding which is bound to crash soon, causing collective damage to every living being. Everyone will suffer mortally irrespective of pelf and power that may be at one’s disposal. It is a suicide mission that we have initiated which has become an extremely daunting challenge to stall as we go hurtling down the precipice looking into the beyond.

What is striking is the absolute and unchecked barrage of repression which has been unleashed upon adherents of a political party who suffer incessantly without as much as a tiny breather. They are suffocating in the putrid debris of malfunctioning institutional structures delivering little justice. Crime with bared fangs is romping the streets and soon its principal proponent will be crowned the king.

And this process will be ‘legitimized’ through enacting the drama of holding elections with only the favoured ones allowed to conduct electoral activities. By far the largest political party of the country, and the only one with roots in all four provinces, remains barred and a victim of enforced disappearances of its leaders culminating in issuance of statements or holding of press conferences announcing change of their political loyalties to one of the fabricated outfits. How far have we come on the road to crime and how much further do we have to go on the pavement to destruction with no different results achieved than what we secured in the years gone by?

Imran Khan does not rule with guns and bayonets. He rules with a moral authority that he commands to the exclusion of all the would-be kings. The sooner the realization sinks in that the people’s mandate needs to be restored to elect leaders of their free choice, the better it will be for the state. A democratic path should be chosen instead of handing over the country to the crime syndicate.

The phoenix appears to have lived its life. It is about to set itself on fire. Will another phoenix rise from the ashes, or have we seen the last of the legend? The way into the future is seen by all, but it is a way the power wielders are unwilling to tread. It leads to initiating a dialogue with the unchallenged leader of the country who rules the hearts and minds of the people from behind his prison walls. He occupies the centre stage and there is no one, least of all the one about to be anointed the king, who can challenge his ascendence.

The writer is the information secretary of the PTI, and a fellow at King’s College London. He tweets/posts @RaoofHasan