If one listens carefully there is a strange new sound in Pakistan nowadays.
It is the sound of SILENCE. Hard to believe that on the eve of what is supposed to be the 'biggest event' ever - free, fair and transparent elections- there is:
- An Emergency in place which curtails all movement
- No campaigning permitted of the opposition parties
- Effective muzzling of the media for fear of different perspectives being presented to the electorate
- No clacketty sound of Printing presses which lie idle and covered with the dust of repression
- No cheerful sound of normal electioneering, no motivating speeches of exuberant political rivals in the dusty streets where life is lived. Streets which are now devoid of the true sounds of democracy
Even the lovely fat-tailed sheep, destined for celebratory slaughter lie un-bleating in their pens. They too have given up.
The unusual quiet of an otherwise boisterous population has an eerie resemblance to a typical Stephen King movie. You know, the one where a town is taken over by a malevolent alien incubus which renders its human hosts into tranced-out zombies.
Oh yes, there is still the SILENT majority in Pakistan. Intellectuals, educated elite, students, rising middle-class, the glitteratti, the chatteratti, the great unwashed- they are all doing the obligatory chest-beating; moaning over the ineffectiveness of their political choices. But is anybody willing to get off their duff and in an organized and peaceful manner raise their united voice to be heard over the din of Musharraf-ocracy?
Of course not! Wanting democracy would mean having to get involved! "Why should we do that? It is for the politicians to give us democracy", they rationalize.
Which is exactly the sort of result plain old Mr. Musharraf desires.
'Elections 2008 - the Sound of Silence', is a well-scripted play - conceived, written, stage-directed, lit and managed by Mr. Mush Himself - with an excellent supporting cast of servile sycophants, who under normal circumstances (running for election and getting elected) would never have scaled such lofty heights.
Every actor has memorized his lines; spotted his location on stage and timed when to Enter and Exit Stage Left. It is high-performance theatre at its best - clearly directed towards a nudge-nudge, wink-wink western audience, whose collusion he needs to 'survive'.
There's a Presidential hopeful in America, a chap who talks about the Audacity of Hope. Is anyone is Pakistan audacious enough to hope that they can contribute to change? If so, get off your butts, put your money where your mouth is and get involved.
Otherwise, the play, in the immortal words of the Bard of Avon is nothing but "a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing".
At the end of it all Pakistan will remain a place where the more things change the more they stay the same.
[This is not a spoof - but a sad and true fact!]