The Landscape of Truth

Dreaming is good. It keeps you away from reality.

All of them were smartly attired. Their cell phones were switched off. The discussion had just started.

Pessimist: The next elections will also be managed. The deserving candidates will be denied victory, thus, making a mockery of the democratic system. There is no room for democracy, rule of law, or justice in this country anymore. Even the winning candidates know they didn’t stand a chance. How could they claim the reserved seats which they never deserved? Prices have gone up too. Only a few could manage the hefty amounts at short notice. On the other hand, the government of the day is counting its days. It knows it could be shown the door anytime.

Optimist: Too gloomy. Doesn’t reflect the entire spectrum. The mere fact that we don’t have a military rule and the democratic process was allowed to continue – come on – why don’t you see the enthusiasm with which the voters came out? It takes time. It’s only seventy-odd years. Let us not lose hope. The fact that all stakeholders are serious about the process of economic recovery is good enough for me to stay optimistic about the future of this country. Corruption is everywhere. No country is immune to this evil. Let democracy take its roots.

Realist: The form of government is not important. It’s the people that matter. Guns are more powerful than logic and truth. Power and not intellect rules. Why so much hue and cry over rigging or corruption? Aren’t we all greedy? Don’t we want everything for ourselves? Those who criticize are either financially sound or couldn’t succeed in reaping the ‘fruits’ at the right time. Man as a man is a man throughout the world. Stop living in a fool’s paradise. You get what you deserve. This is the hand you are dealt. Face it.

Old man: Paradise is good. Stupidity and wisdom have nothing to do with it.

Lady in red: Laptops and motorbikes are being distributed whereas more than twenty-six million kids are out of school. How many of us respect the Constitution? How many parliamentarians have read, understood, or tried to follow Art-25A in letter and spirit? Paradox within paradoxes. The women who are talking about gender inequality are the most influential in society. Have a look at the figures. How many maids are being ill-treated by the lady of the house? Ask any working woman how they are treated by their male colleagues. On the other hand, see how the harassment laws are being exploited by women left, right, and center. Talk about the justice system and fair play…!!

Optimist: Patriarchy has been taken over by matriarchy. Come to think of it, in cities, almost every household is run by ladies. The problem is poverty and not societal paradoxes. Look at the bright side of the picture. You had a woman prime minister – twice. Now you have a woman chief minister. Tomorrow you might have a lady chief justice of the Supreme Court. Who knows?

Pessimist: Where do you go if you want justice? The judiciary itself is looking for justice. Senior judges are complaining about interference. Little do they know that by admitting the fact, they are tainting every verdict the superior courts announced in the past. In the absence of justice, how do you expect the citizens to have peace of mind? Police is ineffective and law & order are being controlled by thugs and dacoits of the Kacha and Pacca areas. I wish I could leave this place.

Realist: Leave this place and go where? Live in Canada or the US as a third-grade citizen? Be your own plumber and carpenter? You people need to decide. You cannot have the cake and eat it too. You want to have the positives of both worlds at the same time. It is not possible. To begin with, why don’t you come to terms with ground realities and reduce the gap between what you say and what you do? Aristotle will not visit your area to tell you that justice could be found only in classical literature. It is not ‘them’ who hurt you until they hurt you physically and financially. It is ‘us’ hurting ourselves by creating an idealized aura around us. Stop dreaming.

Old man: Dreaming is good. It keeps you away from reality. Hence, less hassle.

Lady in red: In hindsight, Zia ul Haq’s time was much better than the present one. At least, we had hope for a better future once the tyrant disappeared. The vacuum in our thought process now is appalling. Hoping against hope? Even that seems difficult now.

Realist: Comparisons are good to prove a point or two. Otherwise, there is no use to talk about the past. You cannot change the past. Full stop. Instead of sulking, try to find out reasons of being in an ongoing state of inertia. Realization is the first step to start moving in a definite direction. If the Supreme Court reverses its own decisions, don’t curse the system. You cannot change the system, can you? You cannot leave the country, can you? Then accept life as it is. You don’t have a fourth option,

Optimist: I don’t understand. That is like accepting everything as fate. Not sensible.

Pessimist: Thirty-seven years in government service and one could not construct a house for the family. Those who spent most of their time outside the office, have farmhouses. What do you get by being honest and upright? Oh, I hate this world.

Old man: In the pursuit of happiness, without defining its contours, somewhere along the line, we have lost track and become masters of our fate. One day, you should visit those who have farmhouses. They are surrounded by ghosts as well. They also hate this world, but they won’t tell you.

Najm us Saqib
The writer is a former Ambassador of Pakistan and author of eight books in three languages. He can be reached at

The writer is a former Ambassador of Pakistan and author of eight books in three languages. He can be reached at

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