By Syed M. Aslam
I take the liberty to reproduce a piece of fiction that I read somewhere many many years ago. You are cautioned that characters, places and incidents reproduced below should strictly be treated as work of pure fiction, a work of imagination running wild. You should avoid blaming anyone else but yourselves for mixing up fiction with reality if you fail to draw the line between the following work of fiction and real life. Now read the fiction reproduced below at your own risk and your own well-being. Here it goes: Once upon a time the rich and noble rulers of a far off land strived long and hard to turn it into a heaven for themselves. Their untiring efforts finally bore fruit when Muna o Salwa as well as rivers of milk and honey started flowing- no not for their subjects but at least for themselves- which in itself was no small feat. Their wealth multiplied overnight, only the most expensive cars were permitted to be included in their half-a-mile long motorcades. They encompassed such unheard of riches that their own banks ran out of strong rooms to stuff it thereby forcing them to transfer the cash in accounts overseas. The rulers were so just that they punished the pettiest of the criminals most severely so as to maintain the law and order at its best. This apparent cruelty was actually a blessing in disguise aimed at the betterment of the land simply because all the crimes, heinous or otherwise, were only committed by the treacherously rebellious people of the land who, to the chagrin of the rulers, comprised overwhelming majority. Thieves, dacoits, murders, profiteers and petty criminals were awarded the exemplary severest of punishments as long they did not belong, or had any link, to the class of wise and noble rulers. Nobody should have the least sympathy for such law breakers even if every single one of them belonged to the lowly segments of the land under discussion. One should take pride to understand that the noble and wise rulers of that distant land in this story were not like their treacherously rebellious rulers. The noble rulers of the land were so benevolent that they took upon themselves to shoulder the heavy responsibility of administering each and every affair of the land be it sharing its riches among themselves, taxing their people to hilt so wealth could not spoil them. The beneficent rulers copyrighted patriotism, national interest, proverbial iron-hand, the menacing writ of the government, claim to throne, etc. exclusively in their names simply because they felt that the illiterate, uncivilized and poverty-ridden majority was just not worthy of it and also because they believe that the positions of power, authority, and riches that they enjoy were given to them by nothing else but God Himself. The people of the land under discussion were so rebellious that they insisted on demanding the same rights that these noble rulers enjoyed. They were so treacherous that they agitated even at the least important issue such as incessant increase in the prices of such most basic essentials as petroleum, wheat, rice, cooking oil, pulses, milk, petroleum, power, and gas. The people, rebellious as they were also made a habit of agitating when long power failures cost them their lowly jobs or deprived them of sleep for days at a stretch. The rebellious people had also unjustifiably asked the rulers to trim down their luxuries paid by their taxes, to bring profiteers to their senses, to receive half-decent medical care, access to affordable half decent education, at least one square meal a day and a pair of stitched garment a year, a roof over their head even if shoddy. The noble and wise rulers of the land, kind as they were, took great pains to cure the malice of the treacherous people. They tried to convince them that in any civilized society luxury of the rulers is a norm and thus should not be treated as something unusual. They informed the people in their kindest tone that inflation is a global menace and incessant escalation in prices of essentials and utilities and the cost of living is not profiteering at all. They tried to educate the people the necessity of maintaining the army of ministers and advisors. They justified taxing the people to death saying that it was for their own good. They also promised that load-shedding will end by this or that month or year for good. Despite the best efforts the people- illiterate, treacherous, rebellious, wild, uncivilized and lawless as they were, refused to believe the kind, honest, and sincere words of their benevolent rulers. The conflict continued raging between the humane rulers and uncouth people of that distant land under discussion. The story went on and on but I must stop here to pose a number of questions to you dear readers: Shouldn’t the kind, wise and noble rulers were unfortunate to govern such an uncivilized bunch of subjects? Didn’t they deserve better subjects? Wasn’t too much kindness on the part of such benevolent rulers counter-productive? Did such a rebellious people be allowed to live at all? Your answers would be as good as mine.