by Waseem Shehzad (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 50, No. 6, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1442)
On August 14, Pakistan will celebrate the 74th anniversary of its independence. It was carved out of British colonial India because the Hindus led by the Indian National Congress were not prepared to accept the fundamental rights of the large Muslim minority (30%). Pakistan was to be a safe haven for Muslims where they would live according to Islamic laws. Further, Islamic culture and ethos would flourish.
The expression ‘Independence Day’ means freedom to formulate its own policies based on the teachings of Islam to serve the interests of the people. Yet, right at its creation, a fundamental breach emerged. The masses wanted the country to be governed by Islamic laws with its emphasis on social justice. The elite wanted the raj to continue under their domination.
The overwhelming majority of elite—though a tiny minority of the overall population—suffer from an acute sense of inferiority complex. They emulate the West in every way: language, dress, manners, food and lifestyle. For them, the raj continues but they must implement its policies, naturally as rightful successors to the British. They treat the masses with even greater contempt than the British colonialists did during their rule. The elite also cannot imagine life without the West’s patronage, however insulting or humiliating.
This is not speculation. In an interview with the US portal Axios on June 20, Prime Minister Imran Khan said “absolutely not” when asked whether Pakistan would provide military bases to the Americans to carry out operations inside Afghanistan. He later addressed the National Assembly elaborating on Pakistan’s position and how past policies of doing America’s bidding had cost the country dearly in human and material losses.
America’s agents immediately sprang to their feet. Many of them perched in the secular newspaper, Dawn, spouted their venom against the prime minister on the pages of this pro-US, pro-India paper. They said his statements were ‘ill-advised’ and would cause damage to the country. The thrust of their argument was, ‘do not antagonize the US’ or the sky will fall. Others accused him of having no policy on Afghanistan. What they meant was that he was not following their preferred course of action in Afghanistan, i.e., giving military bases to the US to continue its war of aggression from Pakistani territory.
The Karachi daily is among the leading secular mouthpieces in Pakistan. Owned and operated by the Haroon family, it continues to receive government patronage. It is purchased and made available on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights domestically as well as internationally. It is also available in government offices, all expenses paid. Yet, reading it one gets the impression that it is not a Pakistani but an Indian or American newspaper.
Other columnists deride the government’s education policy to introduce Arabic as a subject and to teach the Qur’an from early age. This is considered a regressive step. One particular columnist never misses an opportunity to ridicule Islam. He insists that man evolved from monkeys and that forcing students to learn the Arabic language would place undue burden on them and their ability to acquire scientific knowledge would suffer. The learned professor fails to realize that learning multiple languages does not inhibit anyone’s ability to learn. On the contrary, it opens their mind even further. Some of the greatest minds have been masters of multiple languages.
In prestigious European schools, especially in Britain, students even learn a dead language like Latin that is not used in conversation at all. In British schools, French and German are regularly taught. Similarly, there are countries in Europe that have two or more official languages. Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh (Romansh, you ask?). So has Belgium. Canada has two official languages: English and French. People whose mother tongue is neither, are encouraged to retain their mother language and learn it.
The Pakistani secularists are all worked up because Imran Khan is trying to pursue an independent policy free from the insulting demands of the Americans. The US military has just been defeated and humiliated by the rag tag bands of Taliban. This is what terrifies the Pakistani secularists. Success, as John F. Kennedy said, has a hundred fathers, failure is an orphan.
America’s myth as a superpower has been smashed in the Hindu Kush mountains. It was evident long ago but successive US regimes continued to lie to their own people in order to keep the military industrial complex happy. ‘The Afghanistan Papers’, obtained by the Washington Post through the Freedom of Information Act, make stunning reading. They show how the generals and officials knew that the war was getting nowhere; in fact, the generals did not even know what their mission was or who their enemies were, yet they were asked to keep fighting.
Let the Pakistani secularists know that their godfather has lost the war in Afghanistan. He is not coming back, regardless of how much they may wish he would. While the US will not give up on mischief-making—it will have to suffer many more defeats before it would learn, if at all—Pakistan should have nothing to do with America’s wars of aggression. Instead, it should concentrate on sorting out its own problems.
Pakistan’s decision-makers should keep in mind that they cannot expect any good from the US. Its 74-year relationship with Uncle Sam should have made them aware of his devious ways. Let the Pakistani secularists suffer sleepless nights over the loss of their godfatherly patronage. Pakistan needs to move on. The world has moved on from the US-dominated unipolar world.