Surreal Political Circus

Either we are prehistoric dinosaurs out of touch with modernity, ignoramuses or plainly dumb. But no matter in which category a big chunk of the demos falls, we beg to be enlightened on the necessity for a French-style Second Republic with a President entrusted with superpower imposed on the people for a seven-year term, irrespective of who the President might be.

The system of republics has been randomly adopted across the world without any real meaning attached to it, ranging from People’s Republic of China, Democratic Republic of Congo to weird religious republics where the aspirations and wishes of the people are blithely ignored by their leaders. In what way our first republic fosters the concept of res publica is an open question. And now we are heading towards a second republic. The relevance of it is crystal-clear only to the promoters who have made a mockery of the institutions and their own functions,,in total disregard of the population by communicating in an on/off mode that excludes any public debate on an issue of paramount importance to the people.

A salient trait that characterizes the culture of political power has been that of a sort of monologue whereby leaders turn their back to the people and talk to themselves on key issues believing it is the right way of governing a country. Notwithstanding repeated observations from the public that the monologue style is undemocratic, no sign of change has shown up so far. Even worse, a dialogue involving two key figures pacing up and down the corridors of power and carving out their respective perimeter of influence and power, totally oblivious of how the U-turns and hugs are perceived by the public should give us sleepless nights as regards the direction the country is heading for.

Unseen in the history of the country has been the protracted adjournment of Parliament which compels the members of an already overstaffed Parliament to sit back while enjoying hefty salaries. Res publica in full swing?

Given the string of alleged corrupt practices, nepotism, lack of transparency as well as allegations of self-enrichment, conflict of interests, etc., it just looks as if politicians are totally unfazed by any criticisms. And with all the present scenario of toying with the Constitution, we deserve to be called a rogue democracy. Stand on your toes and try to look over the shoulders of the two main protagonists and guess which lobbies are waiting to strike the best deals. In 2003 it was France Telecom sharing the national pie of Mauritius Telecom hardly a few weeks after the new Prime Minister was sworn in. Brace up for more privatisations based on the personal selective choice of the leadership and freemason brotherhood. Watch out for the bargaining power of other lobbies that will campaign for the introduction of rogue embassies in the country.

To sum up, it just sounds that the main protagonists in the circus are enjoying their own show and have gone beyond the capacity of feeling shame. In some parts of the world it is believed that leaders cannot go back to normal life after reaching the pinnacle of political power. In fact, they are not expected to become ordinary citizens. The colonial style of retirement with all the benefits and trappings of status, often exaggerated, feather their nest for the rest of their lives.

Lee Kwan Yew was a very bright student, a high profile intellectual, a staunch patriot and a committed leader who was totally devoted to progress and stability. The public went along with his 25-year term. Long after his retirement, he is cheered by crowds in his rare public appearances. Even when he was frisked twice in US airports, former Indian President, Shri Abdul Kalam remained calm and did not kick a fuss over such diplomatic blunders though the incidents provoked an outrage in India. Shri Abdul Kalam is a scientist and a refined intellectual, and he is one among the most respected public figures in India. He has the cool confidence of those who live with books and are in a constant pursuit of knowledge.

Provided you have the required personal resources to lead an interesting life, retirement from active politics is not a shame.

* * *

That was simply hallucinating a few weeks ago. A year after a democratically elected government took office, opponents organized a massive rally of followers shipped from distant provinces and marched towards Parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan. Former cricket player-turned-politician Imran Khan and a clerically suddenly decided that last year’s election was rigged, and shouted at Nawaz Sharif to resign. Thousands of their followers, men and women, beat their batons against their glass shields to create the intimidating sounds of battle and frighten away the government.

Their leaders, former cricket player and the cleric, kept reiterating their resolve to stand their ground. Supported by the Opposition, Prime Minister Sharif did not budge an inch. At one stage, the army acted as a mediator. In a country that had been accustomed to military coups, it looked like another episode of what former slain PM, Benazir Bhutto, had called a ‘political circus’, according to observers. The military is suspected of having acted in connivance with the rebels to remind the PM that they are a force to reckon with.

On the other hand, the people of Pakistan are aspiring to political stability and economic progress. During the weeks that the protests lasted and war cries rang in front of Parliament, the rebels were determined and resolved to topple the government. As their demands fell on deaf ears, they gradually lost interest and waited for orders to be done with the revolution, leave the scene and go back home.

Pakistan faces a seriously existentialist dilemma with forces that the political and military Establishment had created, raised, pampered and eulogized in the 1980s,, and that the State is at war with across the country. Add to that the ambition of the State to compete with India, which is ten times bigger. It would seem that the army still harbours the ambition of going to war with India, and the election of new Indian PM is rendering the military Establishment nervous.

* * *

Right now, the US might as well seek the advice of intellectuals from Geneva to sort out who the ‘moderate rebels’ are in Syria in its strategy to arm them against IS soldiers. Why? Because it was precisely a moderate rebel in Syria who called IS and sold the second American journalist for $ 25,000 to them as the latter crossed the Syrian border.

Another British aid worker has been beheaded. The horrendous barbarity of such acts reminds us of the cruelty and torture leading to death that Iraqis and very often, innocent civilians, suffered from at the hands of young British and American soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison in Bagdad.

The Great Caliphate headed by the Bagdadi fellow in his first speech was another surreal episode. In his first speech, he asked his new subjects to obey him; they all bent their heads in submission and obedience. Some of them were born and have been raised in the West. Oddly though, he put up a show of humility asking his followers to advise and guide him whenever he goes astray.

France and England are holding back second-generation sons and daughters of immigrants who are dying to join IS in the killing spree and expand the burgeoning Great Caliphate. India is holding back Shias in Hyderabad who are ready to fly to the rescue of their brothers in Syria and Iraq. Shias in Yemen and Bahrein are getting restless. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt support the oncoming US drone attacks on IS but would rather let the Americans do the dirty job. Their priority is to contain the ambition of Shia Iran. The declaration of war by the US, France and Britain has sent Al Qaeda and its offshoots to rally behind IS.

A bigger picture of the MiddleEast scenario shows that the IS army would have us believe that they have the monopoly of humiliated people and they have come back with a revenge to settle scores with the West, Crusaders and Unbelievers. The two major players Shias and Sunnis are enemies for reasons that date back to around 1300 years ago. The Sunnis are led by Saudi Arabia, a land which did not exist 1300 years ago when Judaism was the only religion in the area. Opinion on the revival of an interrupted project of the Great Caliphate in the middle ages is scarcely aired around. What is not mediatized is the beheading of children of the Assyrian Christian community and their heads put on spikes while their fathers are hanged and their mothers are abducted and killed.

What is most mediatized is the venom spewed on Israel and Zionist expansionist Great Plan concocted by Oded Yinon and his mentors to reconquer regions which they believe should come back to them for historical reasons dating back to more than 1300 years or even 2000 years ago.

So which is surreal or realistic?

* Published in print edition on 26 September 2014

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