The withering of flowers The unceasing tears from the sky The lamps without light The shattered mirrors Dead is the music And the dance over Beyond the hovering clouds In the bosom of the night Resides the star of pain — Glimmering Jingling Smiling — Faiz Ahmad Faiz (“Phool Murjha Gaye Sarey”) Whenever the boundaries of pain are stretched, Faiz Sahib comes serenading his eternal song of hope. This pain was never more intense than now, and a prognosis never more elusive than now. We live through times which are symptomatic of a deepening malaise with no efforts unfurled either for diagnosing its causes, or suggesting a cure. Instead, there is a galaxy of hoarse voices rising to a deafening crescendo to drown everything causing this pain, and painting the canvas in colours of anticipation. The Chief Justice goes on a visit of the Karachi jail and finds a convict, sentenced to death for unprovoked murder of a youth, comfortably ensconced with all amenities of life duly provided. Some time ago, another alleged criminal was caught with bottles of liquor, both consumed and unconsumed. The next morning, in the official report lodged, the contents of the bottles were identified as honey. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which was constituted by the Supreme Court to look into the cases of fake accounts worth billions has complained of total lack of cooperation from the Sindh government. The CJ was forced to take notice of this, reprimand the concerned provincial authorities and instruct that the report be prepared and presented within the week. Asif Ali Zardari, in his press conference in Lahore on October 27, had the temerity to term his front men arrested for laundering huge sums of money as agents of change who were busy in industrialising the province of Sindh. He bemoaned the fact that every friend whom he called was being detained, simultaneously dropping innumerable hints concerning his own impending arrest. He sheepishly contended that it would be nothing new for him as he had ‘suffered five years of incarceration’ under General Musharraf also. Faiz Sahib weaves words which take you on an instant flight from separation to consummate union. Scaffolds and the succulence of lips intermingle in a magical and sophisticated coinage of expressions. Darkness and light weave patterns of changing colours and aspirations. Pain may be a reality, but it is transient. Hope is eternal The Sharifs’ story of loot and plunder is laden with lessons for others of the clan. Using their position in power, they worked relentlessly to damage the foundations of the state as also its institutions, rendering them hostage in the administrative tentacles so that they would work only to advance their economic and political interests. The two brothers tried to pull another clever one: with the elder one attacking the state institutions with venom and spite, the younger one cleverly presented himself as a reasonably softer version and, thus, a desirable alternative. It appears to have all busted within a short span. Notwithstanding the detestable shenanigans of the state institutions and their horrible standards of competence owing to the appointment of cronies and sycophants at key positions by the former rulers, their political demise is all but certain. The merchants of religion have always been on the loose. One such stalwart who was defeated from both his constituencies in the last general elections, and who remained a resident of the ministers’ enclave for thirteen long years at a stretch — an unusual record of sorts — is busy trying to cobble together the disparate parties in the opposition to stage a challenge to the government. His only claim to fame has been mastering the art of selling religion for accruing political gains. There are others who don’t lag far behind, but this gem takes the cake by far in cunning and shameless indulgences. On the other side of the fence, and after a rather uncertain start, the government seems to be digging in. With a partial bailout package from Saudi Arabia secured and further such packages from other friendly countries, most notably China, in the offing, there is renewed assurance that it would be able to tide over the grave economic challenge which it inherited from the previous regimes. The manipulation of national economy for personal gains constitutes a grave crime which should be thoroughly probed and responsibility apportioned. With repeated reiterations emanating from the government, including the prime minister, regarding proceeding relentlessly with the process of accountability, the entire opposition seems to have fallen into total disarray. With the stamp of grievous crimes and misdemeanours writ large on their foreheads, they are clandestinely engaged in endeavours for the enactment of another NRO. Simultaneously, and for exclusive public consumption, they are painting the accountability process black in an effort to save their political careers. But, this is only the beginning of a long and arduous process which need to be sustained, even expanded with the passage of time, so that all present and potential perpetrators of crime are irremediably rendered accountable before law. This endeavour comes with huge challenges from all quarters, including from within the ruling hierarchy. It would be a test of the prime minister’s courage and resolve if he can successfully withstand these monsters and transform the accountability process into an uninterruptible phenomenon which should be legislated out of the domain of executive power and whims. While Faiz’s poetry is laden with images of pain, it is never shorn of hope and resilience. He weaves words which take you on an instant flight from separation to consummate union. Scaffolds and the succulence of lips intermingle in a magical and sophisticated coinage of expressions. Darkness and light weave patterns of changing colours and aspirations. Pain may be a reality, but it is transient. Hope is eternal. Times of pain and times of healing mingle ever so poignantly to inspire a song of hope: This caravan of pain Will someday halt somewhere This drift of life Will someday meet its shore Our emaciated frame not fully immersed In the tide of blood Only when it does Will our life be spared Let the sails not be unfurled Of the ship of wine Let the hurricane of life Subside first There being nothing but lethal poison In the tavern tonight Only those who are fit to die May stay to drink The writer is a political and security strategist, and heads the Regional Peace Institute — an Islamabad-based think-tank. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Raoof Hasan Published in Daily Times, October 30th 2018.