.. by Islamuddin
The establishment of Pakistan in 1947 was an unprecedented event. It was the first state created in the name of a religious ideology, where policies and laws would comply with ideological imperatives. In the treaty of Westphalia, European powers had agreed to keep religion and politics separate. It regarded religion a personal matter between God and His creatures and should therefore have no role in matters of state which would be run according to secular principles and rationality. Pakistan was perceived to have violated this treaty which was not acceptable, However the establishment of Israel in 1948 in the name of Judaism was not treated in the same way which testifies to the fact that the West pursues double standards as for as Pakistan or any other Muslim state is concerned. However it is a measure of the inventiveness of the Jewish mindset that unlike Pakistan, Israel adopted secularism as public policy to earn Western support but in Pakistan Islam was accepted as state religion and the Holy Quran as supreme law of the state. Had the vision of Iqbal and Jinnah been incorporated in our successive constitutions, the situation would have been different.
Since partition India is engaged in Pakistan-bashing and has been presenting it as a racist state which considered non-Muslims as lesser mortals and impure by implication. The West succumbed to this propaganda because it viewed Pakistan in adversarial relationship in the backdrop of the Crusades that it has not forgotten till now. That is why when President George Bush declared war on Islamic terror he appealed to the crusading spirit of the Christian world. Anti- Pakistan propaganda received further hype after Pakistan went nuclear and its nuclear capability was presented as” Islamic Bomb” to build up support to force Pakistan roll back its nuclear policy. There are reasons to believe that a nexus has developed between India, Israel and the West to bring Pakistan under siege through a hybrid war. Western success in destroying USSR through a hybrid war gave them confidence that hybrid war can achieve similar results in the case of Pakistan. The success of this policy depended on eroding public confidence in the ability of Pakistan and its rulers to do good to the people by way of improving economy and security situation in the country.
Religious, ethnic and regional fault lines were exploited to divide and weaken Pakistan internally. Corruption was encouraged to widen the gulf between the people and the rulers. Funds were liberally provided to make the economy dependent on foreign loans, bulk of which was recycled into the offshore accounts of our rulers and powerful media houses to make them hostage in the hands of creditor nations. Media houses were given advertisement support and opinion leaders like Hussain Haqani were given lucrative jobs in the West in return for promoting Western interests in Pakistan. Regime changes were brought about with the help of their local henchmen. Pakistan was slow poisoned through foreign aids to such an extent that since 1980s Pakistan’s economy is being managed by IFIs like the IMF and IBRD. From this vintage position the international establishment has made inroads in every aspect of our national life, especially the media and the intelligentsia. In public perception the US- led policies in the region are geared to target Pakistan’s strategic assets. Afghan war is viewed as a pretext to tighten the noose around Pakistan to force it abandon its nuclear weapons, agree to a confederation with India to counter China and to change Pakistan into a secular state.
As a result of the above mentioned policies Pakistan is now under effective siege not only by international establishment but also its local allies wielding enormous power in key institutions. The bond of goodwill so painstakingly put in place during the war on terror between the people and the establishment is back to square one. The economy is in shambles and public resentment against the government is all time high. There is no institution left that can evoke confidence in the people as an impartial arbiter or savior. The constitution has also been side lined. People are looking up to the judiciary to come to their aid but given past experiences, the judiciary has generally sided with the establishment. The trust deficit is so great that even patriotic appeals are now labeled as last refuge of the scoundrels. With the social media unleashing public consciousness, only performance and service delivery by the rulers will bail us out as a nation but unfortunately there is little realization of it in the establishment. Strong-arm tactics and high-handedness continue to be used to keep the people in line ignoring ground realities that such tactics will not work in the information age. The unprecedented high cost of living resulting in suicides has taken away all hopes from the people. Politics has degenerated into a farce resembling Nazi Germany where Germans had lost their rationality after being blinded by the propaganda calling for vengeance notwithstanding the likelihood of self-destruction. We are on the same road but without pride in our identity and desire to change for the better. Misrule of 75 years has made the people indifferent to their fate and there is no ownership of and pride in being a Pakistani. Public uprising like the Arab Spring is not possible given the insensitivity and lack of hope among the people. Therefore hostile forces are working for economic collapse of the state in the longer run.
In 1980s eminent jurist and politician, Eitzaz Ahsan, propounded theory of Indus nationalism in his book ‘The Indus Saga’. According to his theory Islamic ideology has failed to keep Pakistan united and it was time we adopted the Indus as a unifying force and basis for nationalism. This theory was never debated fearing backlash from religious elements who want to make Pakistan a theocracy. It is this urge to monopolize Pakistan rather than wellbeing of its people that every state institution or entity has been trying to protect their respective vested interests even at the cost of national interest. Today Pakistan is facing existential threat owing to turf wars among institutions and economic meltdown. The elite is not prepared to bring back their ill gotten wealth stashed away in foreign banks to bail out dollar- starved Pakistan. This will not happen because our elite have no confidence in the future of Pakistan which they use as pastureland where they come to rule and make money to be taken back to their adopted countries for which legal paradigm has remained in place since the first tenure of Nawaz Sharif when free flow of foreign currencies was legalized.
According to one study 200 billion dollars are stashed in Switzerland alone. In this backdrop the amount of foreign exchange taken to the US, UK, France, UAE and Qatar etc can well be imagined. Holders of these accounts are said to be politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats, generals and those from the legal fraternity. It is ironic that every time common men are asked to give sacrifices for the country but never the elite. Today the people feel caught between the rock and the hard place. Pakistanis are losing hope with each passing day making beelines in front of consulates for emigration visas. Where this state of hopelessness and helplessness would lead to is anybody’s guess. The situation is dismal and it is not enough to say that Allah created Pakistan and He will also protect it. Pakistan has moved away from its founding goals. Ishaq Dar should know that Allah only helps those who are ready to help themselves. It is time that we come out of our ostrich-like mindset and faced the hard reality that divine help comes only to the deserving, which unfortunately we are not. .. Islamuddin, Garm Chashma Chitral 14 Feb 2023