Ghalib Says – 5

This week’s shai’r is the following:

bachte nahiiN mu’aakhazah-e roz-e hashr se
qatil agar raqiib hai to tum gavaah ho

there is no escape from the reckoning of the Day of Judgment
if the rival is the murderer, you are a witness too

The shai’r illustrates nicely why Ghalib remains relevant to us today and how he is able to look beyond the partial view to bring the broader context to our attention.

The conventional interpretation is in the context of the lover and the beloved. The rival has murdered the lover in connivance with the beloved. Ghalib addresses the beloved to say that you may escape punishment in this world but since you knew about the crime and remained silent you will be charged whenever there is a fuller accounting as on the Day of Judgment. (A detailed interpretation is posted on Mehr-e-Niimroz.)

We can lean on this shai’r to reflect on the recent political events in Pakistan where mu’aakhazah (in the sense of impeachment) has emerged as a word on every lip and ask what the verdict might be on the Day of Judgment.

It could be argued that political mu’aakhazah in Pakistan is very limited and one-sided. Whoever is in power begins an accountability of the rival contenders. But, in actual fact, all of them are guilty of the same crimes at different times. Take, for example, their respective actions against the judiciary, the misuse of public resources, or the harassment of political opponents. So what kind of a mu’aakhazah is this that is going on? And what is its legitimacy?

Is power the only source that determines who can impeach whom? Or can there be a set of principles that can apply equally to all? If not, will this kind of circus be repeated endlessly?

Ghalib says that we should take a Day of Judgment perspective in separating the innocent from the guilty. Is he right?

How would we reconcile this perspective with our partisan loyalties?

Should we be satisfied as long as it is the other side that is at the receiving end of the mu’aakhazah?

Could there be an impartial mu’aakhazah conducted in a people’s court?

Could schools and colleges conduct mock trials as teaching and learning experiments?

  • Sohail Kizilbash
    Posted at 04:31h, 22 August Reply

    Ghalib is immortal.
    As far as impeachment is concerned- may I ask why there was no call for impeachment of Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia ulHaq or for that matter of most of the civilian rulers who plundered and misruled the country. There was a difference between them and Mussharaf. Don’t you wonder what?

  • mazhur
    Posted at 04:54h, 22 August Reply

    There is a difference between muakhza and muhaasba….here Ghalib refers to Muakhza and his helplessness to get justice in this world.

    Nobody knows as to the time of the ‘hereafter”, whether it begins after death or after spending eternity awaiting for turn in the Burzukh!

    Whatever the case may be it’s quite impossible to get Muakhaza or even muhasiba in a land where corruption is rampant from top to bottom and where people are bereft from the concept of honor!

  • Narmeen Hamid
    Posted at 10:19h, 25 August Reply

    For me the meaning of the shair in today’s context is quite clear. It could very well be addressed to the civil society and the educated elite of Pakistan who are silent spectators to the farce being enacted in the name of government. Surely the lack of ethics and morality in politics is their responsibility too…..and their muakhaza is already happenning in the way this state is slowly crumbling.

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