An Orwellian State
On January 9 the Supreme Court directed the interior ministry to speed up
efforts to trace and recover the missing persons allegedly kidnapped and
detained by the intelligence agencies. Despite the court's directive no
representative of the three agencies accused by the relatives of kidnappings
namely the ISI, MI and IB turned up at the hearing.
In July last the defence ministry flatly told the Sindh High Court that it was not responsible for locating and recovering missing persons. That it exercised only administrative control over the ISI and MI but had no jurisdiction over their operations. In other words the agencies were free to do what they liked. Even the name of the director of an intelligence agency in Karachi mentioned in abduction complaints was not given saying that it amounted to issuing his 'death warrants'.
In November last when the deputy attorney general informed the Supreme Court that a comprehensive report on the missing persons had been prepared but was not produced before it because the interior secretary was not available to sign it. The apex court then sternly warned the government to come out with full and accurate information about missing persons by December 1. However, full and accurate information was not provided even at the last hearing less than a week ago.
On October 20, 2003, the writer asked in the Senate that the law that authorised the ISI to conduct raids and detain people should be placed on the table. Within days, On November 3, I was formally and sternly told to shut up because how dare I had asked 'for information on a matter prejudicial to the security of the country'. A state where there is no respect for rule of law and where laws are made for the privileged few is called an Orwellian state, thanks to novelist George Orwell and his famous novel 'Animal Farm' (and also 1984). Whether a story meant only for the children or as a serious satirical work, it makes sense to revisit Orwell's novel.
Animal farm opens with a conference of animals in which an old bear named Major summons all animals for a last meeting and warns them against common enemy. 'Man is the enemy of all animals and fellow animals must get united and drive their enemy out of the farm'. One day the owner forgot to supervise the farm and a hungry cow broke the door of the store-shed. Seeing this other animals also rushed to the store and a melee sets in.
Remembering the advice given by their old comrade 'Man is their enemy' the beasts instinctively launch an attack driving the owner and his men out of the farm. In the absence of any organised planning in staging the revolt an enthusiastic boar named Napoleon assumes the task of running the farm.
The new empire starts with a pledge that 'all animals are equal'. A number of executive orders are issued and written on the walls. Committees are formed and key positions are given to favoured pigs. One of the seven executive orders read, 'Napoleon is always right'. One favoured pig is assigned the task to extol each and every action of Napoleon.
A few months later the farm owner and his men tried to recapture the farm but are repulsed. Napoleon is decorated with 'Animal Hero, First Class' by his fellow animals. Having completely routed the man, Napoleon declares that all his opponents were actually traitors. A firm discipline is imposed as Napoleon alone is projected as the saviour and his detractors as risk to the security of the farm.
The pigs could read a little and therefore claimed ruling status and occupied key positions in the new kingdom. Some animals then moved into the house of the farm owner where Napoleon occupied the drawing room and insulating himself from other animals, start issuing orders.
Then came the winter and food shortages forced starvation. The hens revolted by dropping eggs from rooftops but were soon forced into submission by Napoleon's trained dogs. The experts now spun the theory that the opponents of Napoleon were actually spies of the neighbouring farm, are banished from the farm and ordered never to return.
The novel then winds through several funny episodes of folly and cunning of the animal leaders. The farm is attacked once again by men in the neighbourhood but the attack is repulsed. Special songs were composed to praise Napoleon who was called 'Father of all animals'.
The pigs that considered themselves as the ruling class had already taken to luxuries. Soon Napoleon and the privileged pigs discovered that they could not observe their own orders and policies and had to flout them. But they also had to find a way for it.
Whenever a policy order was flouted by the privileged the experts got into action to secretly rewrite the order at night and make it appear as if it was the original order. For instance an order that originally forbade animals to sleep was secretly changed to read, "No animal shall sleep in bed with sheets". Another order forbidding drinking was re-worded to read: "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess". When lesser beasts protested the privileges of higher species the relevant order forbidding killing of fellow animals was rewritten as: "No animal shall kill another animal without cause".
Other animals however did not like the selective changes in the orders to suit a certain privileged class. So one night an older animal walked up to the wall where the manifesto 'All animals are equal' was written and added the words "but some are more equal than others". No sooner the admission that "some are more equal than others' appeared to become official policy there was uproar among the animals. An open fight ensued and the empire collapsed. The animals' revolution had come full circle.
For some Animal farm provokes laughter. But for many others it is a painful depiction of the fate of a people whose dreams are shattered by lawlessness and anarchy. Thanks to judicial activism under the present chief justice, there is hope that there will not be some more equal than others before the law. There is hope that Pakistan will not slip into an Orwellian state.
The writer is a former member of the Senate belonging to the PPP. Email: email@example.com
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