Hello, Midlife Crisis

When you just thought that you are becoming more comfortable in your skin, life gives you a new reality check. And just when you think that things are going to get better, life reminds you that you really have not achieved anything. At each step, you are reminded of the meaninglessness and emptiness.

Perhaps no other year in my life, as in the case of most people alive, has reminded me of the pointlessness of my existence. It has reminded of how every

At the end of this year, I am as confused as ever, whether it comes to my direction in life or relationships. But this confusion is now added by a sense of doom, fear, and helplessness. A sense that time is fleeting, slipping away from my hands, and that only misery and suffering lie ahead, after all that has been endured.

Perhaps just as the earth is a sweet-spot between the scorching death-heat of the stars and the icy cold void of the space, I have arrived at this patch of relative peace and prosperity, albeit with unfulfilled potential. Just like the earth, only bound to last but for a few moments in space-time.

Though perhaps even scarier is the boredom induced by disenchantment. The thrill is gone. The thought of saving the world has become a chore. The thought of self-fulfillment is only translated into dollars. It is only cruel, if not appropriate, that golf has become a focal point of my mind at the end of this year. I seem to be more concerned about my putter grip and adding a new hybrid to my bag than the state of Indus Delta.

I am aiming for more financial discipline this year, but am I a better person?

Or more importantly, do I even want to be anymore?

My Pakistani Person of the Year 2020: Maryam Nawaz Sharif

Source: Dawn

In the year 2020, we saw history in the making. For the first time in Pakistan’s political history, we saw an anti-establishment movement rise from the heart of Punjab following the dismissal of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2017 by the Supreme Court on a politically motivated case, even though a more substantial case could have been considered in the wake of the revelation of Sharif family’s foreign assets in Panama Leaks. The dismissal that focused on Nawaz Sharif’s work permit in an Arab Gulf State, was preceded by the historic Dawn Leaks. It was a Cyril Almeida article that revealed that the Prime Minister had reprimanded the armed forces for not doing enough to curb religious extremists in the context of a better FATF or terror-financing watchdog rating. Since then, many conservative journalists have blamed Maryam Nawaz Sharif to be behind it. They, along with the pro-military politician Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, also blame her for ruining her father’s pro-establishment, conservative political party by taking an anti-establishment, liberal angle that PML-N had started to take in Nawaz Sharif’s third term.

A person who almost looked and acted like a mannequin during the PML-N reign has turned out to be a complete firebrand in Pakistani politics. Maryam Nawaz Sharif has become the face of the rebellion of Punjabi politicians against the military establishment. Her courage, resolve, and strong tone in the face of threats, intimidation, and attacks on her personal character, something a national woman leader in Pakistan can only expect to endure. She is becoming the dominant force reshaping her political party and eclipsing the influence of her more conservative and pro-establishment uncle Shahbaz Sharif, which makes her a constant menace and threat to the military establishment. She is turning out to be a crowd-puller, a confident and bold orator, and a new woman leader that many Pakistanis may just be ready to accept. But most of all, she has embraced the people of provinces outside Punjab and acknowledged the excesses and authoritarianism She sat down with Baloch students demanding their rights in a protest in Lahore and embraced the sisters and mothers of Baloch missing persons in Quetta. This is unheard of from a leader of pro-establishment Punjab that treats the rest of Pakistan as its colonies essentially. Maryam Nawaz has taken the anti-establishment rhetoric in Punjab to a point of no return, and that could only mean progress for democracy in Pakistan.

Even Captain Safdar, her husband whose profile is dwarfed in comparison, got to enjoy his share of limelight at the Jinnah Mausoleum. Where he raised slogans of “Vote ko Izzat do” and “Madr-e-Millat Zindabad,” and was arrested from their hotel with their private room broken into at dawn by Sindh Police following Pakistani military agencies detaining the Inspector General of Sindh to force his hand to arrest the dissenting politicians. This move only caused more embarrassment for the hybrid Imran-Bajwa regime and the military intelligence agencies.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif has a long way to go. But comparisons with Benazir Bhutto are not entirely misplaced. Especially if she respects her legacy of struggling for a liberal democracy in Pakistan. At least, she is honoring her memory and is standing side by side with her children for a common cause of strengthening democracy in Pakistan, while the hybrid regime would not be bothered about honoring the memory of the first Pakistani woman Prime Minister and the first woman leader among Muslim Majority Countries.

But speaking of progress for democracy and women leading Pakistan, Maryam Nawaz Sharif is on the right trajectory on that front too. She has pledged to uphold the Charter of Democracy by standing with Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari of the Pakistan People’s Party, an agreement that was made between her father Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal’s mother to progress civil supremacy and democracy in Pakistan against the military dictatorship. She has pledged not to stoop to politics of personal attacks in order to score points against the PPP and other PDM allies in the face of political vendetta and the worst divisiveness nurtured by the ruling PTI that the country has seen since the 1990s when politics returned to Pakistan after Zia-ul-Haq’s death.

Most of all, Maryam Nawaz Sharif has emerged as a hope for the people of Pakistan who have been robbed of their votes and have been conned by an imposter. Whether she will live up to their expectations is for time to judge, but for the moment, she is the most important Pakistani for the year 2020 to me.

Read about my Pakistani Person of the year for 2019 here.