Future, emotions & our state

Posted on April 12, 2015 Articles

Future, emotions & our state

The writer is an Islamabad-based TV journalist and tweets @FarrukhKPitafi

There is no gift more heart-warming than a daughter. I have two. On the first day of her pre-school, my elder one told her teacher that when she grew up she would want to be a scientist. It goes without saying that back then she didn’t even know what a scientist was or did.

Why, then? Because she had heard from family and friends, many a time, that an unfulfilled childhood dream of her father was to be a scientist. She wanted to make her father proud. That’s how much a daughter will love you.

When you think of your children, you cannot help but think of their future. A future where they are always happy, their faces beaming, always out of harm’s way, away from the mediocrities and sufferings of life’s torments. So what if it is just a dream right now. It is not an impossible dream. It is one that gives meaning to all our lives. You pray and toil to make it happen.

But here is the catch. Your children’s future cannot be as happy and fulfilling if the system in which they are supposed to flourish is broken. We put all our efforts in sheltering them from the daily trials of a broken system. But then they grow up and walk into the same quagmire of broken dreams unsuspecting and unready.

So, what can we do to change all that? To harmonise the state and society with exigencies of time, perhaps? But how to go about it when the system is broken? And not in the way Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri wanted you to believe for months.

Our state was born in the middle of heart-rending bloodshed. It is natural for it to have anger management issues of its own. So when the state looks to the future, it is not with the cunning or shrew that is the hallmark of statecraft but through the hormones of a teenager. And that is why in trying to overcome every demon that possesses us, we end up giving birth to another one, infinitely greater in size and impact.

Today, it feels bad if someone badmouths any state institution or, for that matter, Imran Khan. Granted, no one should get away with smear campaigns against state institutions. But what about Imran Khan? Well one shouldn’t mind outrage against him either, provided we had one standard.

Let’s talk about the ruling PML-N. A succession is also due in that party within a term or two. There, too, sits a young woman with a lot of potential. And yet Imran Khan didn’t mind criticising her in public, trying to ruin her career before it even started. I get it: you are averse to dynastic politics. The system of patronage too. Right? Then why was she exiled along with her father when she wasn’t even in politics?

The trouble is the state doesn’t have any problem with the system of patronage or dynastic politics. If I were to document the instances of our state’s sponsorship of both I would need more volumes than the Encyclopedia Britannica. It is just incredibly convenient to let your anger and hormones rule you.

You manipulate the natural order of things without much foresight. And yet if the state wants to fix things, it would have let the system run its course, let natural order mend things and eventually transcend its own bounds.

Emotional education for the state, at this stage, may pave the way for politics free of patronage and dynasties tomorrow.

I want my daughters to live in better times, don’t you?

Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2015.