Nostalgia has no future

NOW what is so incredulous about the assertion that we could have done without the Kerry-Lugar cash counter whose yearly dose comes to less than two per cent of our budget? We have had ideas more preposterous.

Until a few decades ago, many amongst us would speak loftily about a revolution, and a progressive one at that. We all knew that it was a bit outside our reach, but for the duration that the illusion lasted it kept our spirits high and added to our importance.

The idea ultimately pitted us against the power that we are so reluctant to oppose today even if theoretically. The message in our resignation is that we cannot even think about throwing away the proverbial lighter substitute for an imperialist noose.

Equally lacking in humour is the thought that the moment you speak about the dire need for an anti-thesis to the current global order, you place yourself in the camp of the militants. There is too much formula in this and it wouldn’t do anyone any harm to break the monotony once in a while.

The Kerry-Lugar bill gave us an opportunity to do just that but we badly missed out on it, leaving the maulanas and their allies to do the shouting.

It is a constant lament of the times. Over the years the so-called progressive people’s acceptance of this reality has been so wholesome that it has placed an indefinite embargo on the dreams that we once dreamt and the healthy contempt we once reserved for not a country but a system that thrives on aid and exploitation.

Personally, it feels as if we have struck a compromise at our expense with the moneylender that we had once so valiantly fought in our villages and towns.

The capitulation to the idea on the ‘left’ of the divide is almost total, what with the so-called liberals in outfits such as ANP and the tiny dot formed by the ‘ideological’ jiyalas within parties such as the PPP falling silent in their fight against the dominant argument.

To be fair to these easy targets of public ridicule, they kept the rhetoric alive far longer than could many of their contemporaries in related fields.

A large number of NGOs, academics and professionals, and not least journalists who must use the dominant economic idiom to explain their points and must measure the quality of their merchandise on the western scale, have been calling for a surrender to the existing world standards to map development and everything else for quite some time now.

Having said that, whatever token resistance the power players among politicians offered to this ever-rising tide in the name of the poor man has practically died down even when one major party, the PML-N makes desperate-sounding anti-KLB noises.

Mian Nawaz Sharif talks of self-sufficiency then asks Senator John Kerry to venture an explanation of the bill that would satisfy him. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is absolutely right in saying that the bill had loomed large for one and a half years before it became law. His party certainly took its time in coming out against it as strongly as it eventually did.

Just when the world rulers in Washington were putting their stamp on the joint effort of Messrs Kerry and Lugar, the PML-N camp in Pakistan was discovering sinister aspects which it had until then been discussed only sparingly. While the party says it had been waiting for the government to seek its advice on the matter, through its lackadaisical initial response it got what should serve it well in future.

All the PML-N has to do is to live up to its popular billing of notching power in the not too distant a future and it will have what every government in Islamabad longs for: American money in pocket, a predecessor to blame this aid on and a group of pragmatic experts hushing things up.


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