Ghettos of the mind – Raoof Hasan


The mind is a vast reservoir of boundless creativity. It encapsulates ideas and images which shape a person. It is laced with dreams and desires which inspire human life. It is studded with a stream of ambitions which give direction to a future. Cravings, longings and extravagant yearnings lie hidden within its realm. It defines human spirit. It takes you along long and lonely paths. It is a source of boundless energy, yet a measure of uncertainties and imponderables.

The mind is an endless pursuit. It holds an irresistible attraction, forever enticing you to take a sip from its benefaction. Fortunate are the people who are smitten by its intoxicants and who take a chance with the host of alluring prospects and possibilities that it has on offer.

Its vastness also contains dreary ghettos, full of apprehensions, anxieties and forebodings. The mind is a trustworthy companion, yet may prove to be an exasperating nightmare. It generates and it destroys. It conspires to shape an image which may be but a hallucination, eerily receding into far distances like it never existed.

But, tragically, it is these ghettos within the mind that breed at an alarming pace, sucking in the myriad avenues that the human mind cultivates. Those affected by this syndrome nurture a negativity that is the antithesis of what should ideally be residing within the mind’s domain – the scent of life and the zest to pursue it to the full. Instead, the victims of this ailment are consumed with an enormity of animus, leaving little desire to free themselves of the ghettos. These poisonous tentacles dig deeper to take away the very soul of people, transforming them into nondescript entities driven by increasing quotients of hate and hubris which virtually numb the thinking faculties. So, one gets adrift the tide of darkness that blows out the light.

Pakistan’s political scene throws up surreal images which are quite similar to the ones residing in these dreadful ghettos – images of confrontation and fratricide, images of infatuation with ‘I’ over the rest, images of frenetic and megalomaniac infatuation with self-righteousness which supersedes the collective interests of a vast majority of people. This is like drowning in a vast sea of uncertainties – a dreadful plunge which may not spare anyone to even mourn the departed ones, for such is the intensity of loathing, and such the unwillingness to learn. It has countless manifestations spread all around.

Take the case of the PDM. For a movement which claims to be striving for the supremacy of civilian rule, there is absolutely no room for asking the establishment (read: military) to intervene to overthrow a government elected through the people’s vote. By refusing to talk to the prime minister, this is what the PDM has regressed to. They further insist that once the sitting government is removed (through an undemocratic act) by the military – exactly what the opposition claims it is fighting against – they will engage in a dialogue with the establishment.

In order to build pressure on the military, a large variety of divisive and derogatory slogans have been raised from the PDM platform ever since the commencement of the protest movement: rejection of Urdu as the national language, dismantling the fencing along Afghanistan-Pakistan border, pleading for the independence of Balochistan, hurling abuse on Punjabis, accusing the military of removing the PML-N government, targeting the COAS and DG, ISI by name and inciting the institution to revolt against its leadership. Is this a recipe for democracy? It may be of the same variety that saw the emergence of the corrupt Bhutto/Zardari and Sharif dynasties which their descendants now intend to perpetuate to eternity. The fact that it is not likely to happen is breeding frustration for spearheading this movement which lies buried midcourse.

The Lahore rally exposed many a chink within the opposition’s armour. In addition to being an abject non-starter in terms of failure to gather an impressive number of people, the event carried the tell-tale marks of divisions among the constituent parties, particularly between the PPP on the one hand and the PML-N and JUI-F on the other. Bilawal Zardari arrived late for lunch and left before the PDM head had even started speaking. Contrary to claims that Maryam and Bilawal would go together to the rally, they arrived there separately. No final programme was announced at the conclusion of the rally and everything was left for another day.

Leaving other constituent parties aside, it appears that the PDM leadership, more particularly the PML-N, will only be happy with the likes of Justice Qayyum in the judiciary, Saifur Rehman heading the NAB and the military led by one from their own ranks. In the event that does not happen, as is the likelihood, they will continue agitating that they are being victimised – despite the presence of a pile of incriminating evidence of their corruption.

It is the ghettos of the mind that breed such crass falsifications and such fanciful flights.

The writer is a political and security strategist and the founder of the Regional Peace Institute – an Islamabad-based independent think tank.

Twitter: @RaoofHasan