In a rage of orchestrated frenzy, Gullu smashed cars and smashed the façade of efficient governance.
Can all the king’s horses and all the king’s men put Humpty Dumpty together again? Within the noxious mound of political muck, Gullu Butt is a small creepy crawly with big fangs. But he symbolises the dark underbelly of a structure that reeks of pungent hypocrisy.
This is a structure lovingly constructed to hide the rot within; a system that believes not in curing the festering and bleeding wound, but wrapping it up inside an expensive bandage. But then Gullus of the world crawl out of this wound, bloodying the bandage and exposing the unhealed skin and bone inside.
Ten people dead. Or is it twelve? Men and women cut down in a hail of bullets in the heart of Lahore by those who are pledged to defend them. State-owned automatic weapons spitting fire and death on streets that cradle the routine of life.
Steel tipped ammunition rounds slamming into abdominals, necks and faces, rupturing arteries, cracking skulls and exploding jaws. And snuffing life. Children orphaned, wives widowed, husbands carrying the limp bodies of their wives. A bloody carnage in a city which boasts of dizzying development. Shocking? Not really. There is something terribly wrong in the State of Pakistan, and we all know it.
Amidst tall promises and emotional commitments; amidst flowery political rhetoric and nauseatingly sweetened speeches — the stench of reality is unmistakable. This stench wafts around our daily lives and reminds us that we live beneath the umbrella of a predator state. The police kill people every day. Those they do not kill, they maim through torture.
Every day in every thana of every district of every province, citizens of Pakistan are brutalised with institutional efficiency. This is life in Pakistan. Here we beat people with abandon and with state sanction. Here we pull out their nails, hang them upside down and lash them till their backs are a bloody pulp. This is accepted. This is how the power game is played.
And this is where we go horribly wrong. Leaders regurgitated by this system onto us, and then presented as poster boys for the Democratic Dividend Project, end up becoming prisoners of the very system that made them into what they are. They are unable or unwilling to reform institutions, so they pour their heart and soul into concrete and mortar.
But the wound keeps bleeding puss. The rot within institutions keeps spreading like a deadly virus. Injustice breeds tyranny and tyranny explodes into carnage, splattering blood over concrete and mortar, only to be wiped clean with impressive efficiency by imported machinery that is a mark of development and admirable service delivery. The stench of reality grows ever more strong.
And so does the irony. It’s like when you take a wrong turn, you may drive as fast as you wish, you will still end up at the wrong place. We are driving headlong into a dark abyss. Governments are pouring billions of rupees into institutions so that they regress with greater efficiency.
Policemen are being given the latest equipment so they can suppress Pakistanis with greater ease.
Thousands of cops are being recruited so that more men are available to fulfill the torture and killing requirements of a burgeoning population. Can medieval minds cope with modernity? It took a Gullu Butt to remind us that we are constructing a palace over a stinking swamp. The foundations will never hold. Never.
But yet again, as the wound bleeds and the bandage gets soiled, we replace it with a new bandage.
The problem will not be solved by axing a minister, beheading a bureaucrat or decapitating a few cops. The problem is deeper — much deeper — and its needs major reform. Sometimes a simple wound left unhealed leads to major surgery, and perhaps amputation. Today innocent men and women were gunned down on the streets of Lahore, and tomorrow this will happen again somewhere.
The real problem then is that our leaders just do not realise what the real problem is. And all the Gullus of the world — it seems — are not enough to remind them of this dark reality.