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Past Never Dies

Mahboob Qadir


The writer is a retired Brigadier. He has extensive experience in dealing with UN matters related to strategic policy on countering violent extremism.

Past never dies sounds like a cliché, yes quite but it is more than a cliché, it is a hard and present fact. Yet past is a different canvas, seemingly remote and hazy. It is nostalgia, bitter sweet memories, regrets, reminiscences and a closet full of half done and unfulfilled desires. It is also a feeling something like a favorite dessert half consumed in the hope to revisit the helping after answering the doorbell where the caller lingered on and the table was cleared. There is another side of the past which follows one where ever he goes, in many cases precedes him. This acts like a rear view mirror for the owner but a full sized background screen for the bird watchers and the monkey catchers, two of the more observant and sharp eyed talent hunters.

Reminiscing clarity is a rare gift of nature given to a fortunate few with greater sensitivity, ability to self-examine and where possible course correction or reparation. It is basically a self-initiated mechanism which allows one to shed unnecessary load and discard sentimental litter into the dustbin of time retaining radiant and significant events in the memory vault. This enables the subject to create moral space for doing better the next time. Reminiscence is like a large awning which is raised upon central pillar of nostalgia, and other supports like memories, regrets, unfulfilled desires and missed opportunities. It can be seen that nostalgia has a much closer place with reminiscence and opens a window directly into the past compared to other fellow passengers. Reminiscence is essentially a very personal act and is a kind of ready reckoner of times gone by, reviewed through the microscope of introspection, recapture and mostly a sentimental recall.

At times all it requires a trigger during a casual talk among friends or relatives, mention of an old schoolmate, chancing upon a queer old dusty object rummaging through one’s cupboard or simply a question asked about a healed wound on the back of the thumb. Then the memories flood in, glazing one’s eyes with a distant sheen and a thousand miles look.

What we have discussed so far revolves around a person and his own ability to recollect and reminisce. But there is another equally significant side to the past which in common words is known as reputation. This falls in public domain and is crafted out of total known conduct of the person by people who had come in contact with him during the course of the time past in various capacities and durations.

A cumulative personal frame of reference is automatically formed of which certain predominant character traits stand out and are used as a datum point of the man’s moral worth. This framework then becomes an alter ego or an inseparable shadow of one’s personality which is unaffected by sunlight or shade, like a kind of permanent halo around the man. Trouble with this shadow is that the more you move into the sun, the higher you climb the prominence pedestal the longer shadow you cast and be more visible for many more people to see. It also has a habit of preceding the man it belongs to wherever he goes, and if left behind not only catches up quickly but overtakes him. That means a person more or less walks into a hall of mirrors every time he changes his locale from known to the next known point of interaction of a reasonable length.


We must not allow ourselves to remain an object of global ridicule just because we have such degenerate and base leaders.


This introduction brings us to the practice and ruses of most of our opinion makers, political, religious and media leaders and scholars who seem to have mastered the art of obfuscation, smoke screening and sugar coating their intentions. Generally they do not mean what they say and do not say what they mean. A deliberate fog is created about their real intentions in the minds of the audience and ambers are left burning purposely for the smoke to rise from a number of hay stacks so that they may look like the fire fighter saviors when the flames erupt. The trouble is that these men come from the same social backgrounds that most of the country belongs to. However people pin some lofty hopes on these men and women whose mettle is as defective or raw as that of any of their followers. The difference is that very cleverly they white wash and conceal their soiled past under catchy slogans and emotive leads.

What is it that makes people follow them? There are many factors which can be identified but mainly it is the insecurity driven quest for a leader, a decision maker of authority with the ability to remove social, economic and influence dissonance out of the society. Somebody who could provide hope, strive to provide comfort in their lives and set up a wholesome secure environment of life, property, faith and due reward. People’s gullibility, pervasive ignorance and widespread poverty remain a constant. There is this obnoxious attitude of couldn’t care less too.

In this exploitable social mix of ignorance, poverty and insecurity, generally, fake and falsifying men and women of dubious character emerge as leaders, some from religious platforms and most from the political and ethnic jumping boards, whereas in our case military either gets drawn in the wake of the expanding chaos or receives the ball on the circle. More crafty ones pick up a burning issue like corruption, caste segregation, ethnic deprivation or faith-based discrimination to amass a following but eventually turn out to be the masked robbers just like the rest. We in the Subcontinent are specially afflicted by a swarm of such spurious men and women who have created and led us from disasters to catastrophes regardless of their military or civil origins. As a result the Sub continent has become a whole explosive pile of gun powder which can explode by just one wrong step by these men of straw.

This is not our destiny nor is it a divine ordain. We must not suffer nor submit our next generations to these stinking scavengers of our national wealth, honor and future. We have hesitated and accommodated enough, it is time now to stand up and face these worthless scoundrels who bully around `with a swagger and impunity before it is too late. They treat us like slaves, serfs or commodities and lay claim over our life and livelihood as if God has mortgaged us on a blank paper with these thugs.

Look around and find one out of this horde of marauders masquerading around as a worthy leader who can even be trusted with a dead turtle. Let’s hold them by their horns, with one mighty twist floor them and banish them from our national landscape forever. We have to get our self-respect and grace back at all costs. We must not allow ourselves to remain an object of global ridicule just because we have such degenerate and base leaders. We can then hope to emerge as a respectable nation but regretfully our historic acts of national omission and commission will keep following us because the past never dies.

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