Here is the 1st part of this article: Cynicism in Pakistan
Cynicism and the politics in Pakistan
Among other things, political cynicism destroys whatever little chance may exist for dialogue in a deteriorating situation. This I learned from our own company of friends. Frankly, that learning came at the cost of that company’s dissolution.
Actually we were three to five friends who used to gather in a restaurant for chatting after a week or so, regularly. One friend was too adamant to sustain a dialogue. It was really next to impossible to converse with him. You say one thing and he will trash it without any consideration. No doubt, he was fond of conspiracy theories, and thus for him it was so easier to reject our views without having any recourse to reason. His manner of rejecting our views was so scornful that one could only bear it by blowing it in a laugh.
Most of the times, he would put himself in a high position and judge upon us. He would ascribe all the negativity and all the faults happening anywhere in the world to us. Surprisingly, he had lost all the sense of humor also. When someone related a joke, instead of enjoying it he would retort with a negative opinion of any of the issues that the joke made fun of. He would make us express our opinions about the matters which did not interest us, and in case we declined, he would censure us for not being consistent.
At times, he would try to test our knowledge. In case, we admit our deficiency, he would denounce us for not being knowledgeable. If we tried to avoid his question, he would dub us as illiterates. Sometimes he would put a question to us, if we treated it lightly, he would frown at us; and after a lot of teasing, tell the answer but to belittle us.
Despite such troubles, our gatherings continued. We tried to settle ourselves with this type of mannerism of his. Now and then, a serious quarrel would break out, and it would appear the things were moving to their logical end. I remember that last meeting of ours. We were discussing that ultimately it is rule of law which may help resolve many of the issues Pakistanis are facing. He argued like this: a law is enacted by the vote of majority, and not by all of the representatives’ nod; hence, it must not be called law, because there are certain representatives who did not vote for it, and certain people also who do not accept it; and that strips rule of law of the meaning and significance we attach to it. We tried to explain that the objection is valid and that the representatives and people who do not accept such a law, they are free to lobby and campaign against it, and that by gaining majority, they may repeal that law and propose another of their choice and a better one.
His adamancy was so hardened that he snubbed us and told us not to talk of rule of law anymore. I tried to explain to him it is this talk for which we gather here; despite our differences we should be open to dialogue; but to no avail. He judged upon us like a tyrant. We made a decision to the effect that it’s useless to gather here if we are not open to talk out our differences. After that whenever we were together, it was minus him.
Now when I think of him, he appears to me like a mirror in which cynic images of Imran Khan (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf), and Najam Sethi, Ayaz Amir, Ayesha Siddiqa reflect with varying degrees of clarity. He had contained in him most of the traits Pakistani political cynics most of the times exhibit.
For an exposition of Pakistani cynicism, see my article: Cynicism in Pakistan, where I tried to show that cynics generally exhibit two characteristics: first, they are negative; and second, they are faultfinding. In addition, some of the specific traits of Pakistani cynics were also identified. First, Pakistani cynics believe they are not negative and not faulty all the times. In contrast to that, every thing is negative and faulty all the times. Second, Pakistani cynics believe that whatever negativity and whatever faultyness exist responsibility for that rests with all the other Pakistanis, and they themselves are never ever to be blamed a bit for that. Third, Pakistani cynics believe only they have an exclusive claim to the possession of the truth. Also, it’s quite possible that a cynic may be a perfect arrogant; however, it may not be identified as another attribute characterizing Pakistani cynicism. Actually, cynics are inherently arrogant.
Let it be clarified here that be it Imran Khan, or Najam Sethi, or Ayaz Amir, or Ayesha Siddiqa, in their political opinion, they are cynic, i.e. negative and faultfinding. Likewise, they appear to believe that they are not negative and faultfinding, whereas all or most of the things are negative and faulty. To them, in fact, it is others who are negative and faultfinding. Also, all the times or most of the times, they believe that only they possess the truth exclusively. That makes them inherently arrogant, whether they show it or not.
Naturally no one of the above personalities is a perfect cynic. They only exhibit this or that trait and that too in varying degrees. For instance, Najam Sethi’s analysis presents a post-mortem like demonstration of the issue under consideration, however, in spite of listing an array of opinions, he commits to none as if he is beyond all that and sitting very high in a judging position. As for Ayesha Siddiqa, she appears to be solely obsessed with the so-called all-powerful institution of the Pakistan Army. For her, nothing exists beyond that, which may allow something to happen in Pakistan without the involvement of Pak Army; hence her negativity. So far as Ayaz Amir’s cynicism is concerned, he would find fault with everything, you just name it. You ask him for something which is faultless, and he would find fault with you. (How the political cynicism has distorted the political evolution of Pakistan would be the topic of another piece!)
Note: This article was completed on July 31st, 2014.