Pakistan’s Game Of Russian Roulette

Pakistan’s Game Of Russian Roulette
It is unfortunate to write, as a Pakistani, that the country which Muhammad Ali Jinnah had carved out of remnants of the British Raj with his dying breaths in 1947 has now become a safe haven for prejudice. Its inception was grounded in progressivist and liberal interpretations of common law; the legal leftovers of the colonial Indian Penal Code were retained by Pakistan and revised to be one inclusive of all sects and castes.

However, 75 years on, this has seemingly morphed into a fanatical exegesis of ill-interpreted sectarianism. This is undoubtedly the product of deep-state meddling. The incredulously tacit rule of the nation under General Ziaul Haq conditioned many young men to shift their thought patterns to comply with a state-sponsored version of Islam, and how it supposedly viewed the role of women in society. It brought about the idea that women were homemakers and mothers above all else, masked in the thin façade of an ‘age of enlightenment’.

This goes against Jinnah’s interpretation: he steered clear of supporting “pseudo-religious approaches” which other South Asian leaders were championing at the time. His gentlemanly talk of it being nothing more than a “crime against humanity” for women to be “shut up within the four walls of their houses like prisoners” were quickly overwritten for the cowardly needs of those fearing the psychotic idea of misandry taking a hold of the nation.

This implicit brainwashing, carried over generations, is far from what Jinnah had initially envisioned when he pieced together a ‘Pakistan’ from India’s severed limbs. “No nation can ever be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with its men, and no struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men,” said Jinnah. “There are two powers in this world,” he continued, “one is the sword, and the other is the pen… there is a third power stronger than both — that of the women.”

This is a progressive stance even for the modern-day Occident, and thus deems one to reminisce on how innovative such a thought-pattern must have been in 1940s India. So, the question must be asked — with such a thought-provoking founder at its helm, how did the country morph into being one of the most prejudiced countries in the world?

As we struggle to move away from this pattern of thought in the 21st century, there are new chauvinist zealots on the loose. Imran Khan, in his younger days, was bred to be different: with succinctly proven leadership both on-and-off the field, and a competence of political knowhow under his belt, he was born to be brilliant. Oxford-educated, with ties to haughty English families, he had connections which could strengthen the country’s tampered image. At least, that is how he started off his political career with his foundation of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf some 30 years ago; at the time, Khan was merely 43 years of age, and as party chair he dreamt of standing out from the crowd. He was ambitious and inspiring, setting out, in his initial party manifesto, to rid the country of its incessantly intruding hyper-sectarian values.
In 2018, he was dropped into the hotseat as the country’s new premier, promising that he would bring about a ‘New Pakistan’ — again, á la the Reagan-influenced Trumpian chants of ‘Make America Great Again’ — and ushered in a tumultuous four-year reign, until his democratic dismissal earlier this year.

While these may have been Khan’s initial ambitions, is he absolved of such criticism today? He had argued for years that his chance to shine in the limelight as prime minister was being stolen by the likes of Bhuttos and Sharifs, taking to the streets to conduct violent protests and rallies against reigning governments for ‘stealing the votes of the masses’, taking a page out of former US President Donald Trump’s book of tactics.

In 2018, he was dropped into the hotseat as the country’s new premier, promising that he would bring about a ‘New Pakistan’ — again, á la the Reagan-influenced Trumpian chants of ‘Make America Great Again’ — and ushered in a tumultuous four-year reign, until his democratic dismissal earlier this year.

Khan’s leadership led to the isolation of Pakistan on an international stage. Progress on state projects came to a grinding halt, and millions of dollars in atypical FDI were missing from state credits. It is no secret, no matter who one supports, that there was major uncertainty lying around the future of the country in the years in which Khan became top dog. A default was on the books, and companies pulled out of the nation as fast as they could. Khan’s sheer pessimism in the face of a global financial crisis was off-putting.

Pakistan, home to over 230 million people, was treated as nothing more than a game of roulette. Cards were thrown down on many occasions in the faces of world leaders, only to be shunned by a complete fold on their part. The fearmongering which the ex-PM had taken to in order to supposedly work for the ‘betterment of his land’ was translated on a world stage to mean little something more than a selfish man proclaiming his egocentric interests to all; that is, wanting to prove that he could get something done.

Receiving foreign aid is undoubtedly part of being a third-world country. We were put in this position, after all, by the notorious East India Company. The Company’s backers, now beginning to pay their reparations, were shunned by Khan into reducing the amount of funding we received. A similar case is found in relation to USAID — following in his footsteps, the same people who now receive American aid are the same ones to point fingers at an ‘American invasion’ tampering with our politics.

Shehbaz Sharif, meanwhile, has moved on. Khan’s battery doesn’t seem to faze him as much as it used to. Looking to our international counterparts for help at a time of great national catastrophe is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter how badly Khan wants to portray it to be. Our country is a breadbasket of a great multitude of fruits, due to the labour of its citizens. These citizens need help, and they need it quickly. It is a kick in the teeth to the working class to notion that receiving aid, much like Ukraine is at the moment, is the equivalent to ‘begging’, in Khan’s own words.

If that is the case, Mr Khan, are Ukrainians a mere begging bunch?

Abdullah Raza is a student of law and politics at the National University of Ireland. He can be found on Twitter @abdullahesquire.