Yahan rosay hashr bapaa huway
Pay koi bhi rosay jazaa nahin
Yahan zindagi bhi azaab ha
Yahan maut main bhi shafaa nahin
(Here every day is doomsday – a thousand days of tumult
Here every day is a day of judgment – without rewards – only punishments are meted out
Here living is a torment
Here even death does not bring peace!)
“Tzu-Chin said to Tzu-Kung:…Our Master gets things (done) by being cordial, frank, courteous, temperate, deferential. That is our…way.”
from Analects of Confucius quoted by Jaswat Singh in a recent article
Using Confucius’s philosophy of wisdom, cordiality and frankness, I wish to ask the heavyweights of Pakistani politics, outside the circle of the PPP governing elite in Islamabad: How long will the current cycle of destructive political management continue in this country? With absolute frankness and absolute respect to Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, and Gen. Kayani, I put questions straight to them: How long will the willful political deception of this nation go on? How long will drones continue to rain death and havoc on the citizens of this state? How long will the prostituting auction of national assets last? How long will we go on begging and borrowing? How long will the US, Britain, Germany, France, the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank dictate our national economic policy? How long will US-trained bankers run and ruin our nation’s economy? How long will the Pakistani army fight a proxy war for the global political agenda of US-Western interests? How long will this nation be subjected to poverty, deprivations, slavery and dependence? How long will it take us to value and cherish national self-respect, sovereignty, dignity and self-reliance? How long will it be before we attain emancipation for our masses and independence from foreign powers to run our lives and country the way we wish? What is our way of getting things done in our national interests and how long will it take us to find “our way” to liberate ourselves from the yoke of our alliance with our enemies, both homegrown and imposed on us by foreign powers?
Drone attacks are killing Pakistani citizens indiscriminately – 20 killed the other day in one attack, 60 perished a few days before – thousands have died in this vicious strategy of lethal bombardment by an unseen, unethical enemy. No names, no faces – just propaganda, a symbolic slogan of alleged terrorists and the massacre of the innocent continues. We are the first nation in modern history that has set aside international laws on war and rented out our armed forces and national sovereignty in exchange for American dollars to permit and collaborate in the systematic genocide of our own citizens. Foreign operatives operate with absolute impunity (though it is denied by the democratically-elected government of Pakistan) all over our towns and cities they search our homes, arrest our citizens and make our people disappear – all with our national managers’ approval , implicit knowledge, and secret connivance.
I assume that the incumbent democratically-elected national leadership believes that all this is in the best interest of the nation and that the world will be a safer place if the public are kept in ignorance. Indeed, I would assume again that the ruling elite’s insatiable appetite to do everything to preserve their power, often wheeling and dealing behind closed doors, is also deemed a perfect strategy to maintain a democracy that has risen out of the ashes of a horrific decade-long dictatorship. Advocates of such infantilism as an option maintain that Pakistani citizens, by and large ignorant and uneducated, cannot be trusted with state secrets, and public sentiment, once elections are over, is inconsequential in the management of national affairs. The question is: How long will this obsession with self-preservation, as undemocratic and illegitimate as it is, go on?
Inflation is absolutely out of control and beyond the management capabilities of the clique of our banker-Finance Ministers. The prices of daily consumables are skyrocketing (imagine meat being sold at over Rs. 500 per kilo which I used to buy at Rs. 2 and 50 paisas per kilo in the 60s) making a single healthy meal impossible for the majority of people. We are out of water, electricity, gas, petrol, diesel; health facilities are inadequate, expensive and outside the reach of the common citizen; and the educational infrastructure has turned into a money-making enterprise. This nation has never had such a dismal everyday existence, and yet, a new tax on the implicit conditionality of IMF loans is being imposed and hailed as a step forward in this God-forsaken country. The question is: How long will these economic financial atrocities against common citizens continue at the hands of an absolutely incapable financial management that is being passed from one US-trained and deployed banker to another and to yet another? Are there no other alternatives of fiscal management models other than the ones prescribed by the IMF and its handpicked banker-Finance Ministers of Pakistan.
Balochistan’s immensely valuable natural resources of gold and copper, estimated to billions and trillions of dollars, are being handed over to foreign corporations at throw-away prices in shady deals. Baloch nationalists, seeking provincial autonomy and control over its resources, are being hounded and liquidated on a daily basis, creating a similar political scenario as the 1971 East Pakistan debacle. And yet, the seriousness of the issue and its legitimate resolution is nowhere on the political horizon of the incumbent regime in Islamabad. In addition, it is dreadful that the Americans are being granted air field and air surveillance facilities and permitted covert operations in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan. The question is: How long will this criminal apathy to national problematics continue at the hands of our so-called democratically-elected national government?
Punjab’s Chief Minister was in the UAE recently offering $5 billion worth of investment opportunities in agriculture, livestock, energy and low-cost housing projects to state and private investors in the Gulf. Amazingly and ironically, the Chief Minister, himself with a family history of self-made rags to riches entrepreneurs, is unable to visualize a comprehensive economic doctrine of national self-reliant, self-motivated and self-propelled developmental plans funded and promoted by internal national resources and domestic investments. Hasn’t the Chief Minister heard of alternate models of corporate schemes in agricultural development, livestock and dairy production, and housing – all free of foreign investments and interference – whereby the benefits of a development process trickle down to the indigenous population rather than large scale profits being sucked out by foreign multinational corporations and investors. Look at the case of British Petroleum’s recent sell-out of its assets in Pakistan to a tune of $775 million to an investment group in Hong Kong. Is the Chief Minister aware of it? Net production of these assets is about 35,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. Obviously, the new owners of these assets, the UEG, is not going to relinquish its profits – neither will Pakistan totally benefit unless it had owned the assets itself. The future loss in revenues can also be calculated on the basis of proven reserves (around 43.1 million barrels of oil) and its estimated appreciated value. The question is: How long will this 6-decade old capitulation to capitalistic model of development, which has itself caused the contemporary economic chaos and failure worldwide, be our ruling elite’s obsession at the expense of the masses?
The ultimate question is : What is our way of getting things done?
When will Nawaz Sharif, a paper tiger now, turn into a tiger of action?
When will Imran Khan come down from the mountaintop and mobilize the nation?
When will General Kayani finally say to the Americans: “Enough is enough!”
I am simply being frank and upright, as Confucius would have put it. Will someone answer my questions?