Friday, March 16, 2007
Get Up, Stand Up
Pakistan finds itself once again at a critical crossroad – the last it happened was in 1970-71 when we lost a majority of our population. The Establishment in West Pakistan had declared the East Pakistanis traitors. Tens of thousand were killed; countless women were raped – all in the name of a jingoistic brand of patriotism. It is shameful to recall, that with a few notable exceptions, the ruling elite silently acquiesced to the carnage.
Patriotism is a much abused concept in Pakistan and for some reason seems only to apply to the ‘sacred soil’ of the country. I disagree. To my mind ‘patriotism’ cannot be defined as some kind of loyalty to a geographical piece of real estate. True patriotism instead ought to symbolize the people that live within it. To be a true patriot, I believe, one has to be loyal to the people of Pakistan – that is the 159 ½ million of us (and not just the ‘cream’ at the top).
For most part of our sixty years of the history of Pakistan its people have been deprived of fundamental freedoms. The ruling class holds that the people of Pakistan are incompetent and incapable of deciding their own fate. The greed, ineptitude and corruption of past civilian leaders – such as Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif – are constantly held out as examples.
I beg to differ.
Firstly, both these leaders are creations of the military – Nawaz Sharif was handpicked by General Zia and Benazir came into prominence as the daughter of ZA Bhutto, whose political career was fathered by General Ayub Khan.
The other point which is regularly overlooked is that while in power, neither of these two civilian leaders had free reign. During their terms of office a large part of their time was expended in placating and dealing with the constant demands and conspiracies hatched by their co-rulers ensconced in Rawalpindi – the likes of Mirza Aslam Baig, Hamid Gul and Musharraf.
And then having got rid of these ‘wretched’ civilian leaders what have we been landed with? A cynic would reply: A rule of the Generals, by the Generals, for the Generals. And as long as members of the elite adhere to this system, they believe they will be left alone to pursue their comfortable and relatively worry free lifestyles.
But that raises the question: Acquiescence at the price of what? The answer is, at the cost of freedom denied to 159 ½ million of us.
So what is this freedom? Is it something gifted to the ruling educated class to enjoy life and make as much money as possible, providing of course they do not raise their voices and oppose the existing system? No. As we all know freedom is the ability to live without fear of official repression, to live under a system of rule of law where everyone is adjudged equal and possess the right to choose the government the majority wishes.
The one thing that history teaches us is that freedom is only attained by making sacrifices – the Americans had their brutal civil war and a century later their civil rights marches and the Europeans had their WWII when millions died. Today the ordinary citizen in the West enjoys his liberties as a result of the sacrifices made by his ancestors.
Sadly in modern Pakistan very few people have ventured to sacrifice anything for any cause. Perhaps the exceptions are the Baloch, but then look at what is happening to them. Hundreds of them have been arbitrarily adjudged traitors and have gone ‘missing’.
And so we woke up last Saturday to discover that the Chief Justice of Pakistan had gone ‘missing’ as well – missing that is from his august office (and unlawfully placed in detention).
It is time, dear readers, to make a stand and vent our rage at was has happened to our country – it is what true patriotism is all about. Otherwise one day we or someone dear to us might also go ‘missing’ as well. And there will be no courts and judges left to offer us even a modicum of protection.
The coming generations will justly entitled to curse us if we twiddled our thumbs while the future of Pakistan is burning.
So get up, stand up and fight for your rights!
PS: Don’t expect the West to come and support us. The US, UK and other governments are solely concerned with the future safety of their own citizens and would happily support an Attila the Hun in Pakistan providing he guaranteed to destroy Al Qaeda for good.
Safeguarding the future wellbeing of Pakistan can only be achieved by Pakistanis by themselves.