Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Follies of Hubris

These are absorbing times. Two influential columnists from US’s two most authoritative newspapers – The New York Times and the Washington Post - are suddenly on warpath against the Musharraf regime.
(Those wishing to obscure the issue will say these columnists are ‘anti-Pakistan’, but that will be patent nonsense as being anti-Musharraf and anti-Pakistan are decidedly not the same thing).

There are two general issues involved here:
- Mendacity
- Abuse of power

On 17 June Musharraf openly acknowledged his involvement in blocking Mukhtaran Mai’s US trip (by the preventative detention, putting her name on the ECL, snatching her passport, etc) while addressing the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Auckland.

And having done so, he exposed senior members of his government, who had been yelling themselves hoarse to the contrary, to be nothing more than a pack of blatant liars. We’ve known this all along but thanks to the mighty Commando this fact was propelled into the glare of global daylight in front of an assembly of international journalists.

And while Musharraf in commando fashion opted to take it on the chin by saying ‘I did it’, the confession damaged him immensely. The dignified shroud of enlightened moderation and a neatly assembled democratic façade fell at his feet, exposing the iron fist and jackboots underneath.

Not used to democracy – apart from incessantly talking about it – Musharraf forgot that there is such a thing as a system of laws. In a democratic society no king, president or prime minister can issue any orders without the support of an underlying law and the exercise of legitimate legal authority. What Mush did was confess that he can and does behave like a medieval king – “off with that peasant’s head, etc” – without bothering to reflect on the legality of his conduct.

So in one fell swoop Musharraf managed to wreck the image of himself and his government to smithereens.

The early Greeks well understood the follies of Hubris. And there are two modern interpretations of an ancient Greek saying on this subject:

- Those whom the Gods would destroy they first make all powerful.
- Those whom the Gods would destroy they first make proud
Take your pick!

No comments: