Manzil Nahi Rehnuma by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

Driving through the streets of our mega city I saw this graffiti on the walls “Hamain Manzil Nahi Rehnuma Chahia” (we don’t need a destiny we need a leader). These slogans belonged to one particular party but it equally applies to all others without significant difference. Even the military followed the same slogan in the past when they did not hesitated for a moment to support the Chief who decided to abrogate the constitution. It also conveys our mindset that we prefer following idols rather than ideologies.

Pursuing Rehnuma (leader) rather than ideology is one of the prime reasons for emergence of cronyism and nepotism that prevails throughout our society. It is this love of the Rehnuma which is taking the nation in circles rather than pursues a path of progress and prosperity.

The operating methodology of almost all political parties is also in line with the Rehnuma logic. A person has to ensure physical proximity to the leader to get perks, titles and tickets of the party as well as show unquestioned loyalty to that person. It does not matter if the immediate past record of crony’s ideological position is divergent from the party. Leaders don’t mind this set up either because they only encourage those members in the top party positions that do not challenge their authority. Rehnuma uses people until it is beneficial for him and then replace them with the next person when he senses a threat. This is a never ending cycle as the idol worshipping nature of Pakistani society supplies an endless number of people that are willing to follow the Rehnuma rather than an ideology. But rehnuma is a mortal so when his time comes the cronies around him look for the next rising star and the cycle repeats itself.

It is difficult to have debate with these Rehnuma to formulate national policy once they set their mind on a course. If a creditable person gets the courage to challenge the policy position, the cronies compete with each other to question the integrity of the dissenting voice. They even resort to abusive language as they feel it is their way of showing their loyalty. In some worst cases dissidents end up in body bags. Most of these Rehnuma will make a dumbest statement but the cronies will find new meanings and angles of wisdom in these baseless pronouncements. In these situations academics and opinion makers will appeal to the logic and reason. But they remain adamant to change their position as they feel it is sign of weakness and a risk to their leadership if they give in. So the nation helplessly watches the comedy of errors and pays a heavy price in blood and treasure for these bad decisions.

Religious domain is not much different. In my domestic and international travel I try to go to a different mosque every Friday to learn what Imam’s are talking about. In most cases they are not concerned with contemporary issues and concocting false stories of a far off period. I can understand people in villages accepting this because of low literacy rates. But I have seen in cities Phds and Masters level congregants accepting this falsehood from the mimbur and don’t utter a word. If nothing else they can walk out and pray for them.

These Rehnuma play games with the nation. Some play a game of cards in which they hold trump cards of ethnicities or sectarianism. Some want to challenge the opponent to a sporting event with neutral empires.

These Rehnuma also feel they have to entertain the nation rather than lead them to some kind of normalcy. Some sing revolutionary songs breaking the mics in their passion while others play parody of old songs. Yet others come with a ball and bat. They feel that by keeping people entertained they will make them forget the real issues of life like poverty, sectarianism, extremism, dilapidated infrastructure, unemployment, illiteracy etc. These are not their concerns.

In other countries a politician has to be careful with words. In our country, our Rehnuma can say anything and get away with it. Some say separate us if you don’t like our mandate acquired through bogus votes. Some say I don’t see any corruption in PIA and Railways it may be your opinion. Some say I can solve all problems with a magic wand in the twinkle of the eye. Some say terrorist should not attack us because we have the same manifesto.

How can we break this cycle of Pied Piper type Rehnuma leading us nowhere? How can we establish dignity of merit? These are the critical questions that will decide the future of Pakistan.

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