WASHINGTON DIARY: Spare the rod, spoil the child —Dr Manzur Ejaz & —Waris Husain - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Source : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\10\27\story_27-10-2010_pg3_3

In the modern era, the dominant socio-political force has been the army, which has presented itself as not only the parent of the Pakistani people, but as steward of the democratically elected state

Both of our fathers never beat us as children; both respected the essence of the child and found it wiser to explain the repercussions of their children’s actions verbally rather than through physical abuse. For that reason, it is likely that this pattern will continue through our lineage, as the example set by their forefathers will be followed. However, there is a remarkable cycle of violence that is created when a parent uses violence against his child. The child loses his own sense of independence when he is beaten, and when that child grows up, he/she brutalises his/her own offspring, partly to regain the power they once lost. There is a similar paternalistic understanding of politics, especially in South Asia, which is built on the relationship of the state being a parent to its citizens or ‘children’. If one looks at Pakistan, both the ruling elite and the army abuse their ‘children’ due to some emasculation or repressed anger from their own past.
Historical patterns are similar to parental cycles: if the repressed groups gain power, they try to pay their oppressors in the same coin. Pakistani, more specifically Punjabi, hatred towards India has a similar origin.
When the oppressed castes and classes of the peasantry saw Muslim conquerors, they believed they would attain respectability, enhance their socio-economic status, and get even with the ruling elite by converting to Islam. However, unfortunately, the conversion did nothing for them because the foreign conquers treated them just the way the other lowly people were treated. Muslim rulers preferred the immigrants from Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia for state jobs and other economic functions.
When the Muslim rulers of India needed local cooperation, they embraced the higher castes of Hindus, not the Muslim converts. Foreigners and privileged sections of Hindus (or converted Muslims) kept ruling for 800 years during Muslim rule in India while the converted lower caste of Muslims experienced no change in their lifestyle. It was only after the creation of Pakistan that these repressed Muslim masses gained the status they had been craving for thousands of years. This may be one of the fundamental reasons of intense Punjabi hatred towards India and some of its own people.
Furthermore, it is also a bitter historical reality that the ‘oppressed’ transforms himself into the ‘oppressor’ if given a chance. Therefore, the newly gentrified Muslims of Punjab emulated the method of their long-term oppressors, the upper castes. They did this with the development of Punjab at the cost of others and through nepotism in government jobs and elected positions awarding preference to their biradari (community). This has created the vast socio-political disparity between Punjabis and all others, and depicts the picture of the ruling elite beating their children, or the citizens they are supposed to represent.
In the modern era, the dominant socio-political force has been the army, which has presented itself as not only the parent of the Pakistani people, but as steward of the democratically elected state. This is evidenced by the presumption each civilian administration acknowledges when taking power: if the army thinks things have ‘gotten out of hand’ they will pull the plug and a coup will proceed. Even in the current climate, after the demise of the military dictatorships of Khan, Haq, and Musharraf — the army continues to suggest that it will intervene through a ‘constitutional coup’ if Zardari cannot deliver.
General Kayani stated this definition of the army when he admitted to it being ‘India-centric’ while Pakistan was fighting for its life against its own internal forces, namely international terrorism and religious extremism. The India-centrism has resulted in hundreds of thousands of troops being stationed on the border with India, while an insurgency is mounting force in North Waziristan ready to choke the nation. This has amounted to corporal punishment to the common public who is now subject to suicide attacks, which were a foreign concept a decade ago in the country.
The great abuse against the public is that all the objectives of the Pakistani Army relate to the wars in which Pakistan was defeated, at least nominally, by its Indian counterparts. Add to this the impact of India’s economy and cultural sway over the rest of the world and its relative stability in comparison to Pakistan. This is not to say that India served as a ‘beating parent’ to Pakistan as a child, but rather it represents the root of the psychic repressed anger in the army, which it unleashes on the public. One can look to the religious reforms and the importation of Wahabiism by Ziaul Haq, which laid the foundation for a hospitable environment for extremism and terrorism, as another example of the state doling out corporal punishment to its citizens.
A child who grows up being beaten by his father, will likely strike his children to reclaim the part of him that was lost in his upbringing. In the application to countries, one can see the inescapable cycle of violence that plays out when the parent — state — feels a repressed anger at a third party that inspires it to beat its children, whether through resource-hording or religious indoctrination.
However, to look at real world examples, there are some who are enlightened enough to break the cycle of violence. My father — Manzur Ejaz — was severely beaten by his family as a child, and vowed to never treat his children in the same manner. Such a change in the government would revolutionise both the army and the ruling elite in Pakistan; if they respected the essence and will of their ‘children’ or the people of the nation and fostered their growth rather than exposing them to undeserved violence.

Dr Manzur Ejaz can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com

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