Every city has a crown, a jewel that shines amongst the gems of the city, and for the capital it is true even more so. Rome has its cathedral and in the days of yore, it had its Coliseum, a structure and a tradition towering above others in stature; a civic symbol and a political symbol of the Empire’s strength; of the strength and faith that the people had in their state and the state in its people. Islamabad is no less than Rome in this tradition, for it too has its crowning jewel; a red ruby that signifies the strength of the nation, the blood poured on this soil to make the country what it is today, to signify the journey that we have all gone through to see our beloved motherland to this sorry leper state.
Just like Rome, which wasn’t built in a day, Islamabad wasn’t built in one either, in fact, until only recently, the city was just like the rest of the country, diseased, green, and sadly, bustling with quaint life. It is only in these past couple of years that the city has started to come into its own; empty roads, whites and yellows of road barricades, the grey of the more expensive wire and concrete barricades sitting huffing in the heat outside hotels beyond the reach of any common and even some not so common men.
Islamabad has truly become the jewel of the country, a symbol of the strength of the country and the faith that everyone has in it and the direction that it is taking. Despite these proud achievements, the story doesn’t end here, the story ends on the crowning jewel of this crown of cities, the moot point to which all roads in Islamabad lead, and the moot point at which no road in Islamabad ends: the President House.
Therefore, proudly, the President House signifies all that Islamabad is – in concrete and stone if not flesh and blood. The tall white walls are no less than any other ominous structure in the city- aside from perhaps the marble walls of the Supreme Court- and the barricades, small and large, white and grey, sand and concrete give testament to the nation’s security and its greatness. A nation so proud and great that its President cowers inside the safety of tall impregnable walls in his secure city while the rest of the country burns.
Nero fiddles while, quiet ironically, Rome burns. Moreover, sadly this is the end of the story for us here, the Coliseum of our State, so proud and tall that one man lives safely while the rest can burn. In this the President of Islamabad, and of Pakistan, is not so wrong when he says that he is proud of his motherland. Pakistan is indeed like his mother, and the capital its bosom, from which it provides nourishment and to which it cradles, its eldest, most spoilt and most demented child who insists on draining nourishment out of her long after her wells have run dry.
Islamabad is a proud city, and while many people have often complained of how it does not have the heritage to inherit this title, they tend to forget that this is the center stage from which the country has been plundered for over half a century. The city has heritage and culture both in abundance: a heritage of rape, loot and power play and a culture of reaching its zenith under the enlightened democratic leadership of the President, unvested of his powers and forever good willed.
If Islamabad is the Rome to an Empire, then the President House is its Coliseum, its symbol of strength and the beacon for its moral, social and political values and the President the forever ‘Good Willed and Benevolent’ Caesar.