From self to selfishness and narcissism

Najmul Hasan

خودی کو کر بلند اتنا کہ ہر تقدیر سے پہلے

خدا بندے سے خود پوچھے، بتا تیری رضا کیا ہے

(علامہ اقبال)

I have been listening and reading this verse of great poet and scholar of Pakistan Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal since childhood, and was abstracting the meaning of “Khudy” as self-willingness and self-decision making capability of a person. While in schooling I was confused between words “Khudy” and similarly spelled words like “Khudy sary” (meaning perversity) and “Khudy parasty” (meaning narcissism), but my school teacher’s guidance helped me in understanding the true meaning of these words. Later with the passage of time I saw that narcissism was quite broader in meanings and real life application from single person to a variety of people, groups and parties. Students and experts of psychology know very well that narcissism is a psychological disorder in which one gets so obsessed with himself that he cannot see beyond of own pleasure and happiness. For making self-great and being considered great he starts using every kind of means whether legitimate or not, does not matter. For this purpose when one use his own assets and income its fine, but when it comes to the usage or misuse of national assets for own satisfaction then it becomes a crime which results in exploitation of common man. When this disease sort of misconduct is aimed on political basis it would be rightly called as “political narcissism”. Using national resources, paid taxes and other monies for personal advertisement and commercialization is a crime not only by virtues but also ethically, legally and even morally. Political narcissism get promoted especially in those countries where no serious attention given to culpability and accountability not only on personal basis but also on social and political basis. In this context it is evident from researchers that this sort of larger sized narcissism is a disease of those people who possess authority and power whether in terms of being a king, president, minister, and some grand office holding personnel like military officer, barrister, judge or any official. History of self-superiority, egocentrism and narcissism has very old roots aging from the days of pharaohs and Greek mythology to Muslim kings and the presidents & ministers of modern age. Every sort of countries have been affected by malignancy of political narcissism ranging from developed countries like USA to under developed countries of third world setup, not excluding Pakistan.

From USA several big guns are named to be involved in this crime in one or the other way including Lyndon B. Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy with currently Donald Trump.  Putting a bird view over the recent past, we can catch up many famous and well known Pakistani personalities who are the victims of this disease. Dr. AQ Khan is a very prominent person who is well known for his great work as Nuclear Scientist, however very few knows him as one of the initiator of political narcissism being scientist. AQ Khan settled silently only when he was given the authority over several scientific laboratories, either as asset or just with honorary name such as KR laboratories, hospitals, schools and playgrounds etc. Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology (GIKI), CPEIC – Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi Institute of Cardiology Multan, Sharif Medical City Hospital Lahore, Sharif Medical City Hospital, and Sharif Education Complex are just few examples of this political narcissism where taxes paid by common man are invested on their name and all the income goes to narcissist leaders by which they not only run their businesses but also put themselves in good books for future. Furthermore, if we have a look on the amount of money reserved under schemes like Prime minister (Nawaz Sharif) youth loan scheme and other schemes, infrastructures, buildings and welfare associations named after Benazir Bhutto, we must need an expert accountant to know the true values.

Most of projects are defamed to a great extent which are named after someone names and he earns a bad name in society through any means either by his bad deeds or due to some controversy. Live example of such cases is “Afza Altaf Flyover” based in Karachi SITE area, which was constructed by Sindh Govt. at an expense of 574 million PKR, and was to be named after the popularly known “ Habib Bank Chowrangi” that is “Habib Bank Flyover”. However people were shocked to hear that just before its inauguration, it was named after the name “Afza Altaf” daughter of Altaf Hussain. The purpose behind this action was just to make a soft corner in the hearts of Karachi masses for Altaf Hussain, and to prove his loyalty to a person who while sitting in London could call on masses too support governor’s regime. This flyover is one of the preeminent example of political hypocrisy, duplicity, sycophancy and the silence of mentally ill people. Now it is reported to be considered for rename back after “Habib Bank Flyover”, since Altaf Hussain’s hate speech on 22nd Aug.

Bacha Khan Flyover is another example of political selfishness and narcissism, where masses welfare has no importance. Its name was also deemed to be “Banaras Flyover” since Banaras is one of the oldest and eminent part of city, however political party in hold of the area and more specifically the then part of government named it for their political number gaining game. Benazir Bhutto international airport is an additional specimen of political sycophancies, this airport was aimed to be called as new Islamabad international airport since long, however the then prime minister did not wanted to spare this event for gaining his specific political goals, hence named it after the party assassinated leader Benazir Bhutto, albeit its website is still used with old name web-link address, Begum Nusrat Bhutto airport is another notorious sample of political misconduct from the same political party. Though it is also deemed now as BBSI airport going to be named by present government after Abdul Sattar Edhi’s great volunteer work for Pakistan. In the very same way, in KPK, ANP also used their official stamp to grab cheap popularity among people of the province by utilizing many developmental construction planning which were supposed to be used for welfare of common man. While during their regime ANP key role players, renamed the very old Peshawar international airport by changing to Bacha Khan International Airport, while like the previous example its website is still used with old web-link address. Mufti Mahmood Flyover has much bad luck due to political looting of fame that it was announced to be constructed twice and both the times it could not get ready for people to make benefit of it, since every time the government changed it also delayed the activity and agendas of previous governments due to political rivalry, and hence this fly over hanged for about more than 13 years, and finally was inaugurated in 2015 for public use. Bacha khan university, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University, Altaf Hussain University, Nawaz Sharif Agriculture University and many others institutions like this are the vivid examples of political narcissism.

In the same way these elites waste public money when they use different media for their cheap publicity, and has no regret for a single penny of it. You want to see! Take any newspaper of recent past and you will find complete pages full of their photo session with all families and siblings, just to satisfy their wish of being happy with their selves. You will see their daughter’s birthday party’s photos, granddaughters wedding ceremony and even not to leave some ones death anniversary. In fact an unlimited list of their cheap publicity is on documents, where these privileged people use public money for their self-satisfying narcissism without any guilt.

In this context they must also remember that though they have access to the wealth of state but should not forget it belongs to common man. There are thousands of people who have done great jobs for the country but on one knows them at all, they have no publicity at homeland or internationally, even many of them are suffering live of poverty. These leaders, their connected followers, workers and political allies have no right to waste states assets for their narcissistic activities instead must be used on the common man which is the real assets of country. Now it’s the call of time to legally and constitutionally curb on such self-pleasing, flattering, selfish and egotistical activities to waste masses and states assets by naming the institutions after their names, take granted benefits from it. Now all the cost expensed should be returned to common by naming them and giving a share of income to the reformers, so as to make our country a prosperous and welfare country in the long run.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Lahore Times.

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