Side-effect - Harris Khalique - Friday, April 15, 2011

The world we live in continues to be unjust, unequal and undemocratic. There is no parity between the rich and the poor nations, the privileged and the underprivileged classes, the powerful businesses and the captive consumers. But the poor nations negotiate, the underprivileged agitate and the captive consumers strive to get a fair chance to participate in the collective decisions that affect their fates. This struggle ad infinitum waged by the majority of people around the world in so many different ways against a minority that commands and controls has brought dividends to humanity as a whole.

Critics may emphasise on new forms of oppression mutating and evolving at the same time, but the fact of the matter is that we as people living in the world today have more possibilities to improve our lot. While this remains a long haul for humanity, examples are many to sustain my point.

However, we see empires crumbling, states disappearing and nations perishing along the way. When I say nations perish, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all people occupying a territory are annihilated. Rather, their primary identity, political ideology, dominant way of thinking and prevalent lifestyles get metamorphosed or redefined after they have gone through a lot of pain and suffering. History tells us that this could happen to powerful countries and societies as well, let alone to an indigent and troubled country like Pakistan.

The examples of Nazi Germany and Stalinist USSR prove that it is not abject poverty or military inferiority that brings an end to powerful countries but the authoritarianism in the way the state is governed and a rampant self-deception in its political and civil society. If the misdemeanour is limited to those running the affairs of the state, people have a chance to overthrow them. But if a large number of people start subscribing to similar ideals or choose to stay quiet, outsiders are provided a chance to intervene and have their way.

To use a cliché, Pakistan is at crossroads in this respect. For it is downright mendacity that defines the social order which has resulted in a somewhat overriding individual sentiment of self-deception in many – a belief in being a unique people who are beleaguered and besieged by the wicked forces of profanity. But, unfortunately, this has little to do with Pakistani nationalism in terms of both its land and people. For the word ‘nationalism’ in Pakistani politics is attributed to aspirations of smaller nations and communities for the realisation of their rights in the federation of provinces.

Being Pakistani has acquired a different meaning for those who are trained to associate with a particular form of Pakistani ideology hammered into their minds by powers that be and their radically religious stooges. It means being a beleaguered Muslim. They are conspired against and always discriminated against by the rest of the world because they are the ones who carry the divine mission to transform this world into a Kingdom of God. Sounds like a bit Judaic and also like the Medieval Christian thought, doesn’t it?

But there are Pakistani Muslims who believe that their country embodies these hopes for a resurgence of Muslim power in the matters of the world. Mind you, resurgence not renaissance. For the whole ideology takes us back into an imagined past and has little understanding or preparation to take on the challenges posed by the present day and age. This gets reflected from the discourse in our mainstream media to the remarks made by our cricket captain about our singular large heartedness.

The writer is an Islamabad-based poet, author and public policy advisor. Email: harris.

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