Theatre of the absurd


The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief’s highly objectionable and irrational remarks against state institutions have led to a situation that can be aptly described as the ‘theatre of the absurd’.

The major contributor to this scenario is the government’s lack of appropriate response that is mainly characterised by a state of complacency and confusion. As a result, many actors have joined this theatre and the situation seems to be spinning out of control.

‘Theatre of the absurd’ has been defined by an English-language dictionary “as a form of drama that emphasises the absurdity of human existence by employing disjointed, repetitious, and meaningless dialogue, purposeless and confusing situations, and plots that lack realistic or logical development”.

Aren’t the world in general and the people of Pakistan in particular witnessing a type of drama that tries to portray the absurdity of human life using illogical, meaningless, and deliberately confusing action and dialogue?

How else can one explain the news report that the speaker of the national assembly made a telephone call to Altaf Hussain in London to seek his co-operation to overcome a parliamentary crisis created over resignation of PTI members of Parliament?

The phone call by the speaker was made only hours after the government had registered FIRs against Altaf Hussain across the length and breadth of the country for alleged treason.

How does one digest the fact that at the outset of its proceedings on Friday last, the Sindh assembly prayed for good health and long life of Altaf Hussain and towards the end of its proceedings passed a condemnatory resolution against him for his outlandish remarks against state institutions?

How does one describe that despite the onus of collective responsibility, an essence of parliamentary form of governance, one member of the federal cabinet praises the MQM in the National Assembly for playing a positive role by withdrawing an anti-PTI motion while another cabinet colleague of his brands the MQM as an anti-Pakistan organisation outside the parliament. If this is not the ‘theatre of the absurd’ then what is?

A highly unsavoury situation created by the MQM leader has ultimately led to a “war of resolutions and counter resolutions” in Sindh provincial assembly after the passage of the resolution against the MQM supremo.

Severely criticising the role of Speaker, the MQM, has now submitted in the same assembly a “counter” resolution against PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PTI chief Imran Khan.

Targeting Zardari in particular, the MQM has stated that the PPP Co-chairman had threatened the national security institutions and sought to bring them into disrepute.

It has also pointed out that Zardari had criticised Pakistan Army several times in the past and that all this had happened before the MQM chief’s highly controversial speech. Although, there are hardly any chances of successful adoption of MQM resolution mainly owing to a formidable presence of PPP MPAs in the Sindh Assembly, the specter of “resolutions and counter-resolutions” will certainly contribute to accentuating political uncertainty and eroding national unity in the country in general and Sindh in particular.

The MQM’s case appears to be that if its chief had acted in an absolutely irrational, unreasonable and imprudent manner through his diatribe against the country’s institutions, the former President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, too, had acted irresponsibly when he targeted Pakistan’s armed forces for vicious criticism in one of his speeches before he left for Dubai out of fear or prudence, or both.

The video clip that shows PTI chief putting the armed forces in an utterly bad light is yet another case of highly irresponsible conduct on the part of our politicians. Lumping MQM chief’s act together with Zardari’s and Imran’s may not be a sound or rational approach to the issue for many; it, nevertheless, constitutes a sardonic comment on the present-day political situation of the country.

Sending a `legal reference’ to the British authorities, registering treason FIRs in the length and breadth of the country and adopting resolutions in all the assemblies in the absence of any action against Zardari or Imran only strengthens Altaf and his party’s narrative that they are being targeted.

Why it is that all those who are arrested, irrespective of who they are and where they are nabbed, have to undergo different spells of humiliation and varying degrees of high-handedness at the hands of law enforcement agencies, although many, or a large number of them, are later freed for lack of evidence, innocence, etc?

A person who is not guilty of a crime or offence can forget the physical hardship or harm that is caused to him during detention but it would be nearly impossible to forget or forgive the state of being humiliated and disgraced before his release by the law enforcement agencies.

The nation will certainly wait and see how things play out; and it is hoped that people will play to their strength and ride out this morbid challenge of ‘theatre of the absurd’.