By Karan Thapar
I have no doubt that the BJP politician I’ve got to know best–– and through him his family as well –– is Lal Krishna Advani…
Our relationship began –– and matured into friendship –– because of the many interviews I did with him.
…My first interview with Advani was in 1990, when he was leader of the opposition and I an unknown journalist recently returned to India. It was intended for the inaugural episode of Eyewitness. In those days, Doordarshan did not accept programmes from independent producers and there were no privately owned satellite-linked television news channels. But at the time Eyewitness was an unknown entity and I wasn’t sure if Advani would accept. Fortunately, he did.
The interview took place on a pleasant December afternoon at his Pandara Park residence. It wasn’t very long, probably ten or twelve minutes. It appeared in March 1991 when the first episode of Eyewitness was launched.
A short time later, when I next met him, I asked him what he’d thought of the interview. He tersely replied that he had been told it was a travesty. Then he abruptly turned and walked away.
Stunned by this behaviour, I sent him a VHS of the interview and asked him to see it for himself. ..
Weeks, actually months, went by without any response. In fact, I gave up expecting one. Then suddenly, late one summer evening, the phone rang. It was L.K. Advani.
‘Karan, I’ve just seen the interview and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. I was clearly misinformed. However, I’m too old to make that excuse and I’m afraid I behaved badly when we last met. I’m ringing to apologize.’
This unhesitating willingness to accept a mistake is perhaps his greatest quality and immediately attracted me to him. Over the years that followed, I’ve seen it on many occasions. The one that stands out was February 1998, when, as president of the BJP, he was campaigning for the elections. During one of his halts in Delhi he agreed to an interview with me.
On that occasion, my intention was to question the sincerity of the new, genial and appealing image the BJP was projecting. Was this the true character of the party or just a facade to dupe the electorate?
Halfway into the interview and just before we paused for the commercial break, I said to Advani: ‘Aapnerakshaskeseenghukhaadkemunhpemuskarahat dal di hai. Lekin ye dikhavahaiyaasliyat? (You have changed your image from demonic to genial. Is this an act or for real?)’ I’m not sure why I asked this question in Hindi – the interview was, of course, in English. It just came out that way.
At the time Advani did not react adversely. However, a few minutes later when we took the break, he got up, saying that he didn’t want to continue. The crew and I were stunned. When I asked what the problem was, he replied with a question of his own: ‘Why do you want to interview a man you consider a rakshas?’ I realized I had hurt him, which was not my intention.
Moments later, Advani left the room. But then, within a flash, he walked back in. He had barely been out for a minute. Resuming his seat and looking at the crew, he apologized for what he had just done. ‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that. You have come all the way to interview me and the least I can do is finish the interview. Let’s continue.’
‘The Pakistani high commissioner in India, Ashraf JehangirQazi (above) was… determined to make a serious effort to alter the fraught relationship between our two countries…Advani’s attitude to Pakistan started to change after meeting him,’ writes Thapar. (HT Photo)
…It was, however, a strange turn of events that took our relationship from politician and journalist to something approaching friendship, which also included his family. It had nothing to do with journalism and everything to do with the fact that the Pakistani high commissioner in India, Ashraf JehangirQazi, was a dear friend of mine and determined to make a serious effort to alter the fraught relationship between our two countries.
Eager to establish a personal rapport with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, Ashraf asked if I could help. George Fernandes was my initial choice and I set up a few meetings for them, usually over quiet dinners at my home. That worked magnificently. Fernandes and Ashraf became friends and learnt to trust each other. But Fernandes, Ashraf quickly realized, could not influence the government on the tricky issue of Pakistan. That could only be done by a BJP leader who, additionally, was trusted by Prime Minister Vajpayee.
‘I’d like to meet Mr Advani,’ Ashraf announced one day in early 2000. George Fernandes, who recognized and accepted the need, arranged the meeting and I was asked to drive Ashraf to Advani’sPandara Park residence. It was fixed for 10 p.m. No one else was informed.
Ashraf had no idea how long the meeting would last. ‘Don’t go far,’ he warned me. ‘I’ll ring your mobile as soon as it’s over.’ I sat outside in the car, expecting him in half an hour. He stayed for ninety minutes.
Over the next eighteen months, there were perhaps twenty or thirty such clandestine meetings. The vast majority took place at night. I would be the chauffeur and the guards at Pandara Park were only given my name. The whole thing felt like a cloak-and-dagger game in a B-grade Bollywood film.
The only person who stumbled upon this –– but I don’t think he worked out what exactly was happening ––was Sudheendra Kulkarni. In those days, he was Vajpayee’s speech writer. His association with Advani was yet to begin. At the first meeting between Ashraf and Advani, he walked in unannounced to deliver papers and caught all of us having a chat after the formal meeting was over. Fortunately, Sudheendra didn’t linger. Nor did he suspect anything.
Two weeks later, when the second meeting was underway and I’d parked under a street light in Khan Market, Sudheendra, emerging from a Chinese restaurant, saw me and walked up to ask what I was doing.
‘I’m a little early to collect a friend who’s dining at the Ambassador Hotel,’ I lied. ‘So I thought I’d wait here.’ Amazingly, Sudheendra believed this but it was a close thing.
I had been lucky on two consecutive occasions, but everyone involved knew I couldn’t risk a third. Pratibha and Mrs Advani insisted that, hereafter, I wait with them while Advani and Ashraf talked in the former’s study.
Soon a routine was established. The two As would disappear into Advani’s study. I would sit with Mrs Advani and Pratibha. When the meeting was over the other two would join us for a cup of tea.
Late in May 2001, India announced that it had invited General Pervez Musharraf for a summit in Agra. At 6.30 the next morning Advani rang. I was asleep. ‘I’m sorry for calling so early but I want you to tell our common friend that he shares the credit for this development. Our meetings were a big help.’
Their last meeting took place during the Musharraf visit. It happened after the RashtrapatiBhavan banquet, close to 11 p.m. Ashraf rapidly changed from his achkan into casual clothes so that no one would recognize him. Advani still had on the grey trousers of his bandgala suit. The Agra summit was due the next morning. There was hope in the air.
In the end, the summit failed. Ashraf’s and Advani’s best efforts were in vain but the bond they formed did not snap. It lasted through the difficult months of the attack on Parliament in December 2001 and the Kaluchak terror attack in 2002, which led to Ashraf being asked to leave. Though no longer a go-between, I continued to witness the amazing relationship between Advani and Ashraf that few, if any, knew about.
…The last time they would meet while the former was the country’s high commissioner… happened… just days after the terrible terrorist attack at Kaluchak in Jammu in May 2002. Leaving thirty-one dead and forty-seven wounded, this was one attack too many for the Indian government. The Indian high commissioner had been withdrawn from Pakistan several months earlier, but the Pakistanis had not asked Ashraf to return and the Indians had not pressed for his departure. But now the Vajpayee government asked for Ashraf to be withdrawn and gave him a week to leave the country.
Long before the Kaluchak attack, Ashraf had sensed that his time in Delhi was coming to an end. He had wanted to make a difference and, at first, his relationship with Advani suggested that that might just happen. But after the failure of the Agra summit and the attack on Parliament he knew that wasn’t going to be the case.
As the seven days given to him ticked by, I got a call from Mrs Advani asking if I would bring Ashraf and his wife, Abidah, for tea on their penultimate evening. The Advanis wanted to meet the Qazis and personally bid farewell. This was an amazing gesture by the deputy prime minister of a government that had just chosen to declare Ashraf persona non grata. Of course, this wasn’t publicized. That would have embarrassed the Advanis. But they went ahead, knowing the story could leak out.
This was also one of my last duties as Ashraf’s chauffeur. I drove the Qazis to the new Advani home –– they had recently moved from Pandara Park to Prithviraj Road. We had tea in the study. It was just the Advanis and Pratibha and, of course, Ashraf, Abidah and me.
I can’t remember the conversation but there was, no doubt, a strain in the air. After all, both parties were aware of the circumstances that were bringing their relationship to an end. After half an hour, the Qazis got up to leave but unbeknownst to them there was one touching surprise still in store. It happened when Ashraf approached Advani to shake hands.
‘Galey lago,’ Mrs Advani intervened. Both men were taken aback. They stared at her. ‘Galey lago,’ she repeated. And then, almost as if this was what they both wanted, Advani and Ashraf embraced.
I was standing behind Ashraf, so I could clearly see Advani’s face. Tears had welled up in his eyes.
…It’s hard to say how much of the credit goes to Ashraf –– though some certainly does –– but Advani’s attitude to Pakistan started to change after meeting him…
However, the first concrete proof that Advani’s outlook on Pakistan had changed came when the Pakistani foreign minister of the time, KhurshidKasuri, visited Delhi in 2005. Advani was leader of the opposition and also president of the BJP. It was in that capacity that Kasuri called on him. During their conversation the Pakistani minister extended an invitation to the Advani family to visit his country.
Coincidentally, I had scheduled an interview with Kasuri for 10 p.m. the same night he called on Advani. Around 4 or 5 that afternoon, I received a call asking if I could meet Advani in the early part of the evening. I wasn’t told what he had to say and I had no idea what to expect.
When I met him, Advani told me about the meeting and the invitation to visit Pakistan. He wanted me to convey his answer. I’m not sure why he chose me and didn’t respond more formally. He did not explain and I didn’t ask.
Advani said that he would be delighted to visit Pakistan and would like to do so with his wife, daughter, son and daughter-in-law. I passed on the message when I met Kasuri that night. I’m not sure if he had expected such a swift reply, but he immediately called for paper and asked me to write down the names of Advani’s children. I did so.
The foreign minister seemed pleased. His intention was to take one of the most hard-line BJP leaders to Pakistan in the hope that exposure to the country and its legendary hospitality would change Advani’s attitude and soften his politics. He could not have known that, in fact, this had already been happening.
Things moved pretty swiftly hereafter. A formal invitation was issued to the Advani family, which they accepted, and the visit happened a few weeks later.
On the day of his departure, I sent Advani a short personal letter to wish him good luck. I ended by pointing out that I’ve always believed there is a little bit of India in every Pakistani and a little bit of Pakistan in every Indian. This sentiment clearly struck a chord because the Pakistani papers reported that Advani said something very similar during his visit to the Katas Raj Temple complex outside Lahore.
Unfortunately, Advani’s Pakistan visit led directly to the loss of his BJP presidency. It happened because of what he wrote in the visitors’ book at the Jinnah mausoleum in Karachi.
‘There are many people who leave an inerasable stamp on history,’ he wrote in the register. ‘But there are very few who actually create history. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was one such rare individual.’
In his early years, Sarojini Naidu, a leading luminary of India’s freedom struggle, described Mr Jinnah as an ‘ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’. His address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947, is really a classic, a forceful espousal of a secular state in which, while every citizen would be free to practice his own religion, the state shall make no distinction between one citizen and another on grounds of faith. My respectful homage to this great man.
His words were unexceptional but the BJP and, more importantly, the RashtriyaSwayamsevakSangh (RSS) could not accept his calling Jinnah secular. It went against their grain. I’m not sure if they were anyway looking for an opportunity to move him out but this certainly gave them the excuse to do so.
However, Advani’s inscription reminded me of my own view of him. I’ve always believed that he’s a liberal and secular man who uses religion for political or strategic purposes. Ironically, Jinnah was similar. Neither man was prejudiced against people of other faiths. Indeed, Jinnah wasn’t particularly religious and I’m not sure if Advani is either. No doubt he’s a believer, but the rituals and practices of Hinduism play little part in his behaviour and outlook.
Although losing the BJP presidency may have hurt, it didn’t change Advani’s attitude towards Pakistan. The gentler, softer outlook continued. He also never recanted or withdrew the words he wrote in the visitors’ book. Whenever we spoke about it, he always maintained he’d written the truth.
(Courtesy: Hindustan Times)
Why EVMs must go
By G. Sampath
The recent Assembly elections — the last major polling exercise before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls — were not devoid of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) malfunctions.
Though the discourse at present makes no distinction between a ‘malfunction’ (which suggests a technical defect) and ‘tampering’ (manipulation aimed at fraud), there were several reports of misbehaving EVMs. Alarmingly, in Madhya Pradesh alone, the number of votes polled did not match the number of votes counted in 204 out of the 230 constituencies. The Election Commission’s (EC) explanation is that the votes counted is the actual number of votes polled — a circular logic that precludes cross-verification.
A discrepancy of even one vote between votes polled and votes counted is unacceptable. This is not an unreasonably high standard but one followed by democracies worldwide. It might therefore be helpful to briefly look beyond the question that has hijacked the EVM debate — of how easy or tough it is to hack these machines — and consider the first principles of a free and fair election.
The reason a nation chooses to be a democracy is that it gives moral legitimacy to the government. The fount of this legitimacy is the people’s will. The people’s will is expressed through the vote, anonymously (the principle of secret ballot). Not only must this vote be recorded correctly and counted correctly, it must also be seen to be recorded correctly and counted correctly. The recording and counting process must be accessible to, and verifiable by, the public. So transparency, verifiability, and secrecy are the three pillars of a free and fair election.
Regardless of whether one is for or against EVMs, there is no getting away from the fact that any polling method must pass these three tests to claim legitimacy. Paper ballots obviously do. The voter can visually confirm that her selection has been registered, the voting happens in secret, and the counting happens in front of her representative’s eyes.
EVMs, however, fail on all three, as established by a definitive judgment of the German constitutional court in 2009. The court’s ruling forced the country to scrap EVMs and return to paper ballot. Other technologically advanced nations such as the Netherlands and Ireland have also abandoned EVMs.
If we take the first two criteria, EVMs are neither transparent nor verifiable. Neither can the voter see her vote being recorded, nor can it be verified later whether the vote was recorded correctly. What is verifiable is the total number of votes cast, not the choice expressed in each vote. An electronic display of the voter’s selection may not be the same as the vote stored electronically in the machine’s memory. This gap was why the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) was introduced.
But VVPATs solve only one-half of the EVMs’ transparency/verifiability problem: the voting part. The counting part remains an opaque operation. If anyone suspects a counting error, there is no recourse, for an electronic recount is, by definition, absurd. Some believe the VVPATs can solve this problem too, through statistics.
At present, the EC’s VVPAT auditing is restricted to one randomly chosen polling booth per constituency. In a recent essay, K. Ashok Vardhan Shetty, a former IAS officer, demonstrates that this sample size will fail to detect faulty EVMs 98-99% of the time. He also shows that VVPATs can be an effective deterrent to fraud only on the condition that the detection of even one faulty EVM in a constituency must entail the VVPAT hand-counting of all the EVMs in that constituency. Without this proviso, VVPATs would merely provide the sheen of integrity without its substance.
The third criterion is secrecy. Here too, EVMs disappoint. With the paper ballot, the EC could mix ballot papers from different booths before counting, so that voting preferences could not be connected to a given locality. But with EVMs, we are back to booth-wise counting, which allows one to discern voting patterns and renders marginalised communities vulnerable to pressure. Totaliser machines can remedy this, but the EC has shown no intent to adopt them.
So, on all three counts — transparency, verifiability and secrecy — EVMs are flawed. VVPATs are not the answer either, given the sheer magnitude of the logistical challenges. The recent track record of EVMs indicates that the number of malfunctions in a national election will be high. For that very reason, the EC is unlikely to adopt a policy of hand-counting all EVMs in constituencies where faulty machines are reported, as this might entail hand-counting on a scale that defeats the very purpose of EVMs. And yet, this is a principle without which the use of VVPATs is meaningless.
Despite these issues, EVMs continue to enjoy the confidence of the EC, which insists that Indian EVMs, unlike the Western ones, are tamper-proof. But this is a matter of trust. Even if the software has been burnt into the microchip, neither the EC nor the voter knows for sure what software is running in a particular EVM. One has to simply trust the manufacturer and the EC. But as the German court observed, the precondition of this trust is the verifiability of election events, whereas in the case of EVMs, “the calculation of the election result is based on a calculation act which cannot be examined from outside”.
While it is true that the results come quicker and the process is cheaper with EVMs as compared to paper ballot, both these considerations are undeniably secondary to the integrity of the election. Another argument made in favour of the EVM is that it eliminates malpractices such as booth-capturing and ballot-box stuffing. In the age of the smartphone, however, the opportunity costs of ballot-box-stuffing and the risk of exposure are prohibitively high. In contrast, tampering with code could accomplish rigging on a scale unimaginable for booth-capturers. Moreover, it is nearly impossible to detect EVM-tampering. As a result, suspicions of tampering in the tallying of votes — as opposed to malfunction in registering the votes, which alone is detectable — are destined to remain in the realm of speculation. The absence of proven fraud might save the EVM for now, but its survival comes at a dangerous cost — the corrosion of people’s faith in the electoral process.
Yet there doesn’t have to be incontrovertible evidence of EVM-tampering for a nation to return to paper ballot. Suspicion is enough, and there is enough of it already. As the German court put it, “The democratic legitimacy of the election demands that the election events be controllable so that… unjustified suspicion can be refuted.” The phrase “unjustified suspicion” is pertinent. The EC has always maintained that suspicions against EVMs are unjustified. Clearly, the solution is not to dismiss EVM-sceptics as ignorant technophobes. Rather, the EC is obliged to provide the people of India a polling process capable of refuting unjustified suspicion, as this is a basic requirement for democratic legitimacy, not an optional accessory.
Doctor to serve the Humanity but ……….
By Sheikh Umar Ahmad
Doctors profession is regarded as a noble profession world over and is given due dignity and honor in global community for their selfless service to humankind.Every educated person aims to become a doctor in order to serve humanity in best and better of their capacities, but as it is, everybody can’t become a doctor and there are other professions as well to serve the humanity in general. Among all other professions, the medicine is regarded as one of the coveted both in terms of requirement of its service as well in terms of monetary benefits. This profession is only among existing ones that cater to global community involvement as well as service dissemination. Every person has expectations from doctors to deliver in close coordination anytime, rather 24*7 when the need arises without any internal or external excuses, including personal ones. There is a deeper dissatisfaction & grudges when any person from medicine community refuses any other person of consultation when it is time for them to serve. If they are unable to deliver to society with utmost satisfaction, then their purpose of serving the society through this profession only does not hold any merit. A similar kind of episode some days before than happened at state’s premier maternity hospital, so called as Lal Ded has shaken the whole Kashmiriyat that is otherwise known world over for their hospitality and generous behavior but some doctors who in literal sense are there to grab the greater public shearing and for their mere monetary benefits, have deceived and decimated the expectations of one of economically, socially and educationally backward section of our society who yet hold equal weightage at the measures table when it comes to Kashmir diversity and harmonious ethnicity.
Their refusal to admit a women in labor pain and then her parturition at a roadside, has shackled the immediate conscience of whole educated lot of Kashmir who now think that there should be a humanity course for every doctor before only he is allowed to practice medicine. A doctor in true essence should be ready to work in any society, with any person, and to serve any other person in need irrespective of his caste, creed, colour, religion, sect and above all ethnicity. If a doctor is unable to work in any multi-cultural society, he loses his position in the eyes of society to be called as a doctor. This person dashes the hopes of weaker section of society as they think that such persons can never pay attention towards them being economically and culturally senile. The death of a newborn on the roadside at Srinagar area speak volumes about those gross irregularities that still exist in best of our essential & emergency services. This should not have been the case and nothing such things happen in world over but are common in Kashmir only and there is a greater need to overhaul the whole system so to debug these bogus and nefarious elements in society that tarnish the whole image.
There should have been a commission in place to look at those gross malicious activities thatdiscord the whole organisational setup. Now as we know, the enquiry will be put in place and at the end what will be seen, nothing but the ball will be put in the court of victim by falsifying & negating the whole episode. The little one has gone now and no one on earth can bring him back. This episode brings this message forth, that doctor being the representative guardian of life our earth, protect lives every day in every part of world and there is a greater sense of satisfaction and this dealing makes the person feel happy internally & eternally for this greatest benefit to mankind. But for us, it is high time now, that we repent of our past sins and relook at our duties to disseminate it properly at every time it is required. Every person will be suitably rewarded for his good deeds and kind gestures that he has done on humanity and doctors are none as exception.
They are the best representatives of selfless service and moral attitude, and kind reflection of ultimate hope. State administration in Kashmir at the helm of affairs need to reaffirm their responsibilities and duties, so that utmost discipline is maintained in hospitals both from public & doctors end. If public outrages over anything that may be the reflection and agony of intermix of pain and grief. It is the responsibility of doctors on duty to deal with those situations quite humbly and morally, so that the professionals deliver their duties in its true essence and totally error free. There should be limited biasness in dealing with culturally and economically down-centric groups of society. We need to be first ambassadors of humanity before guardians of life through practising medicine to protect the lives of people. We need to safeguard the hopes and expectations of our ethnic groups before we deliver our best to save the lives.
These episodes nevertheless should be repeated in the times to come, else this profession will loseits dignity and honor world over for not withstanding with the requirements of and fulfilling the criteria of being a doctor humanely. There are doctors who treat animals even, this never mean that we need to make an animal human first to be treated by a human doctor as animals are animals, rather we need to be real doctors to understand the physiology of animals before only we can treat them. This is the only message I can conclude with… ! Hence a change is imperative.
(The author is Doctoral Research Scholar, currently working as DST INSPIRE Fellow at CSIR Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine Jammu)
The angry Pakistani
By Arifa Noor
IT takes an outsider to point out the anger within us. Last week, a former US ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, spoke at an event, arguing that our anger prevents us from telling the good story about Pakistan to the world.
It reminded me of an interaction that took place nearly 20 years ago. Back in 2000, a soft-spoken Indian professor from Delhi had asked why the Pakistani people were always so pessimistic about their country — present and future — despite the fact that till the 1990s, Pakistan had always enjoyed better social and economic indicators (including a higher growth rate) than India. It was a question I had no answer to. The hostile questions about Kargil and military rule were easier to answer during that trip to India than this gentle insight and a sense of bewilderment about our state of being.
But since that morning in New Delhi, there have been so many moments when the professor’s question has come back to mind. Countless memories that came spilling out echoed what former ambassador Munter said. Some as clear as the question asked by the Indian professor; some a little less sharp. But each one testifies to our despair, anger or lack of confidence in what is known as Pakistan.
We have been living in an age of anger, decades before Pankaj Mishra wrote about it.
Fast forward from 2000 to the last months of 2007 or the beginning of 2008: a faded memory, I am unsure of the exact month, but it was during the days of that heady yet difficult transition from dictatorship to democracy. Musharraf was fighting for his survival. Benazir Bhutto and the Sharifs were clawing their way back to relevance (followed by the devastating assassination of the former). A lawyers’ movement had caught Pakistan’s imagination. And there were terrorist attacks galore.
In the midst of these trying yet hopeful times, an op-ed had discussed Pakistan as a possible failed state. I was told that the writer had gotten a call from an amused friend in Afghanistan who said that despite all that had happened in and to Afghanistan, no Afghan would ever call his country a ‘failed state’.
We, of course, have used this term so often for the country that many of us believe it is a failed state — despite the term’s problematic origins as one used by Washington to describe countries it ‘disapproved’ of rather than an empirically established concept.
Then there are jumbled up memories of various track II dialogues. Each such seminar or conference is coupled with at least one discussion (on the sidelines) of how the Indians (and more recently the Afghans) present a united stand unlike Pakistanis. There is always a sense of frustration at how we end up helping ‘their’ cause rather than supporting our interest.
Why do we do this, as the professor asked?
Perhaps it stems from our long bouts of dictatorships. Denied their due and rightful say in policymaking has made entire swathes of the populace angry, hostile and critical of the state. They are angry at being left out: it’s an anger that is accompanied by a sense of helplessness at the direction that the country and society have taken. And in recent times, too, there is a sense of outrage because course correction (if there is any in their opinion) has not included their input. Hence, many refuse to believe that there has been any course correction, or criticise it for moving too slowly.
This is why perhaps the anger is most palpable when it comes to foreign policy, especially relations with India, and the radicalism that has engulfed state and society.
Being denied a voice, there is little left to do but express rage at the state, what it has come to stand for and to also conclude that there can be little hope for the future. (Pakistan has not just been at the crossroads ever since I can remember, it has also forever been in danger of being torn apart).
The rage has gotten worse post-2008, for the hope that accompanied the transition then has turned bitter. We thought that the worst was over, that ‘true’ democracy had returned to Pakistan and politicians would now rule — fixing all that had gone wrong. The 10 years of exile and powerlessness had also given the politicos a sheen of competence and maturity. But it was yet another shab gazida sahar (night-bitten dawn).
Ten years later, the anger has grown for it seems that decision making was never transferred. But because the hope this time was greater, so has the rage been too. And perhaps because the urban middle class fought for this transition in greater numbers than before, the disappointment is greater. They are angry for they cannot see the change they had fought for or protested against.
The judiciary turned out to have feet of clay. The military didn’t really share as much as they had promised. And the politicians didn’t deliver the reform or show any inclination for democratic norms once in power. And we continue to rail, against all of them or the one we had placed most hope in, or the one we hated most.
In addition, the rage has turned into hatred of the institution that has disappointed us the most. Indeed, the anger is expressed with malicious glee at times: the Sahiwal incident is a case in point, as was the controversial statement by a former high court judge, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, or any terrorist attack which reveals chinks in the armour of the security forces. And, of course, the various JITs revealing the shenanigans of our political ruling class.
It is as if we have no option but to express our rage, so all energy is poured into it.
But expressing outrage, however cathartic it may be, is not a strategy, which is what Cameron Munter was trying to say.