What? Why are you smiling? I’m serious. What other profession or career choice gives you the opportunity to make boatloads of money help people?
If you think politicians are greedy people whose only motivation in life is money, well then, you’re wrong. No, I mean it. What’s your motivation in life? Paradise? 72 virgins? I see that sparkle in your eyes, don’t try to hide it. But that’s beside the point.
Politicians are not greedy people and their sole ambition in life is to give the people what they want.
Don’t laugh. This is a serious matter. I’ve had enough of people making fun of politicians and using them as the excuse for everything that goes wrong in their lives.
Politics is a very serious business. You, in your old Suzuki Mehran, do not realize how much they had to sacrifice in order to get that Prado they sit so comfortably in. Do you know how many favours they had to do? How many feet they had to kiss? How many acts of immoral behaviour go into proving themselves worthy of their political party?
You wouldn’t even be willing to sacrifice three days of no CNG to get what you want. You don’t even KNOW what you want, for crying out loud!
Look around you. What do you see? Poverty? Sadness? Despair? To be honest all I see is dumb people ready and yearning to be milked for all they’re worth. Why else would they go on doing the same dumb things they have been doing for years? You’d think they would learn from mistakes and decide to do something about it, but noooo! They just keep repeating them. Again, and again, and yet again.
Have you ever wondered why? I have and that’s at the core of my decision to become a politician.
People do not want a way out of their misery.
Come on! Did you really think they do? Bah. Then you are sillier than I thought.
They love their sad lives; delight in them even. So why would anyone want to take away the one thing that makes them happy? That would be downright cruel. And politicians are anything but cruel.
Politicians are perhaps the only people who really understand the deep psychological working of the masses’ minds. I see, you still don’t understand. Let me explain then.
What does the common man, or woman, in Pakistan believe in? I’ll give you a few examples.
Believe In the Inherent Goodness of Mankind but Trust the Inherent Evil to Win
There’s a general air of accepting every misfortune and disaster as something that was pre-written. So, your average Pakistani always believes in the inevitable.
So, while we may all believe that human beings are inherently good, a deep part of us always expects evil to win. I often hear: “It’s sad, but we expected it. After all, nothing good can ever happen in this country.”
Do you expect us poor politicians to break this very basic of all Pakistani beliefs? We would never do that!
Haven’t you ever wondered why movies showing the good guy winning over the bad guy are so loved? Because they are fantasy to the average Pappu (and Pappi). The good guy never wins in real life; it’s only in the fantastical world of reel life that good wins and evil loses. Everyone just loves fantasy; it’s human nature.
As a politician, I know that if the good guy wins in real life, people would be really disappointed. I mean how else would they be able to blame someone else for everything?
Which brings me to my next point.
Someone to Blame
Psychologists, philosophers and most teenagers agree that the most difficult person to live with is yourself. Can you imagine the horror of having to live with the one person who is responsible for all the problems in your life? You have no idea. It can break a person, I tell you.
Politicians understand that rare is the Pakistani who will accept responsibility for anything that goes wrong. We understand that, as a human being, it is essential for your mental well-being to be able to have someone to blame.
So, we humbly presented ourselves. You can heap the blame for everything from your inability to stand up to your boss to the overcharging taxi driver. We offer no complaint or retaliation in response.
Yet, you do not appreciate us. Now that is truly sad. Try analyzing things around you and finding the real culprit, I bet you wouldn’t last a day.
My Life is Worse than Yours
Pakistanis are anything if not competitive. We absolutely love competing. And we love games. A variation of “My ___ is bigger than yours,” this game is the most popular one of them all, beating even Cricket.
How you play it is that you keep trying to one-up your fellow average Pappus and Pappis with conversations like this one:
“You have no idea how hard my life is.”
“We have no hot water and it’s so cold.”
“Really? We had no electricity for six hours straight.”
“Oh you’re lucky! Our’s came after 24 hours this morning.”
Around this time, the conversation quickly turns from the factual to the fantastical.
“We usually don’t have gas in the afternoon.”
“Oh you should be thankful, we don’t get it all day long.”
“My mother-in-law fell down the stairs because there was no light.”
(Silence as the person tries to decide if this qualifies as bad news.)
Sometimes, the game is even played at an international level as “My country is worse than yours.”
This is a very important part of the lives of a large majority of Pakistanis. If we solved all your problems, we would be depriving you of all the important excuses in your arsenal to win this game.
You have no idea how much time and effort is involved in coming with new ways to make your lives deliciously miserable so you are never short on things to complain about.
If we took away your misery, what on earth would you do? How would you spend your time? Can you imagine how boring that would be?
Politicians are actually doing you a huge service which you fail to understand or appreciate. I am willing to sacrifice the comfort of wallowing in my misery and climb out of my satisfyingly self-pitying state to make a difference for the people of Pakistan. At least realize the sacrifice I’m making, you mangoes!
First published in the December 2012 issue of the monthly magazine Pique