I urge the national policy decision-makers and the foreign affairs managers in Islamabad to read this article as a policy document. It illustrates some of our political leaderships’ flawed perceptual orientation about contemporary global political realities and offers out-of-the-box solutions for this country’s much-needed adjustments and political engagements with today’s fast-changing world.
First the diagnosis: Professor Mashkoor Hussain Yad, an eminent Pakistani poet, philosopher, author and former professor of Urdu language and literature at Government College in Lahore, the country’s prime educational institution, penned a politically revolutionary poem at the height of Zulfikhar Ali Bhutto’s ascendancy to power in 1971. Here, I have reproduced a couple of stanzas from the said poem:
Hum say barh kar andha baihra goonga kiya koi hoga Hum nay sar ankhon pay bithiay andhay baihray goongay
Likhnay walla kitnay karab say yay tarikh likahay ga Hum har nazuk waqt pay ho giay andhay baihray goongay
The translation of these stanzas, though not literally accurate, is as close as my translation skills allow me in terms of the message expressed here:
Blindness, deafness and muteness have prevailed upon us at all times We have always honored, cordially extended a warm welcome, and helped send to power the blind, deaf and the mute
It is sad that the plight and irony of our national existence continues to prevail even today, which was so sorrowfully melancholy and eloquently expressed by Mashkoor Hussain Yad some 40 years ago. Things have not changed much as this nation endures one political dilemma after another. The early 21st century military dictatorship and its horrors seem blessings today compared to the bruises and brutality inflicted on this nation by our encounter with 2008-13 so-called democracy. National leadership failures continue to glare before our eyes. Hence, we come to the important question: Is the national political discourse likely to change in the post May 11th 2013 so-called democratic Pakistan? Consider, for example, the scandalous farewell address to the outgoing President by the incumbent Prime Minister this week.
It appears that we are incomprehensibly an illusionist nation with a national leadership that is not only possessed by self-delusions but is compulsively self-deceptive as well as ironically optimistic when there exist no reasons to be so. The fact of the matter is that there are no national indicators to suggest or point out that our national political discourse is on an upward trend. Our economic, political, social, governance and foreign policy failures collectively
should be a wake-up call for our national leadership – and yet, our ruling elite, in its usual rhetorical manner, tell us that the recently “saved democracy” is going to transform this nation into a democratically self-reliant, independent country, an Asian economic power, and a formidable player in global politics.
I beg to differ with this projection. This prognosis contradicts the basic and fundamental ground realities at the present time. The ruling elite’s political narrative is so “farsooda” and diabolically derelict that one wonders how anyone can conclude in this manner when the facts of our existence and the prevailing political conditions are quite the contrary.
Take for example the fact that our enemies are at our doorstep and yet our rulers keep insisting that they are our “friends” and that we share mutual national and international interests with them. It appears that our ruling class is so oblivious to the factualities and ground realities of the global politics of present times that they seem to be in a constant state of dreaming (as well as daydreaming), subscribing to Sigmund Freud’s view that dreams are expressions of unfulfilled wishes.
Imagine the enormity of our ruling elite’s misconceptions. The US and its allies in the last 15 years, have militarily intervened 9 times in the Islamic world killing over an estimated 1 million Muslims. Ironically, our ruling class continues to insist that our hostile national political attitude towards our “friends” (the US and its western allies) is the result of our extremist political and religious views. Don’t they understand the cause-effect relationship between perception-building and cross-national projection of political conduct?
While our national leadership continues dreaming (and insists that we, too, dream with them) what the nation has in reality are nightmares of the lethal fire of drone attacks killing Pakistani citizens as well as a covert US program to neutralize this nation’s nuclear assets. It has been revealed that a major portion of the $52.6 billion US intelligence arsenal is intensively focused on the surveillance of Pakistan’s nuclear arms (cited in a recent report based on documents provided to the Washington Post by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden).
The irony and irrationality of our ruling elite’s political conduct is that they are still determined to do business as usual with the US. Gideon Polya, in a recent article, has meticulously listed the US military invasion of 70 nations and establishing political control over 191 governments since 1776. Are we expecting a major transformation of political behavior in a nation’s concept of global politics suddenly just because Obama once said, “Yes, we can” ? How elusive and unrealistic an expectation can we possibly nourish in the context of this prevailing scenario? Indeed, it is ludicrous to entertain such a possibility, is it not?
Another problematic factor in the political conduct of Pakistan’s ruling elite has been its lack of vision for Pakistan’s position in the contemporary evolving dynamics in the political arena of world politics, particularly the events surrounding Islamic nations. Historically, Pakistani leadership has been held back by its absolute compliance to the dictates of our “friends” in exchange for financial handouts. This political behavior must change now: For instance, it is generally believed that Pakistan’s top leadership in Islamabad has an extremely close and cordial relationship with the Saudi monarchy. It is an opportune moment for the Pakistani leadership to initiate a fresh initiative of diplomatic engagement with the Saudi kingdom on the basis of equality and a mutually instructive and constructive relationship between the two nations: Setting aside the historical complacent attitude by the Pakistani rulers, the Saudi’s should be advised to reject its present religious orthodoxy in exchange for greater stability among Islamic nations, promoting peace, prosperity and solidarity all over the Muslim world. It is common knowledge that, historically, Medina has tolerated and, indeed, cultivated Islam’s global diversity of belief and practice in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis ought to undertake this leading role once again – the Pakistani leadership should tell the Saudis so.
Pakistan’s incumbent leadership should make a forceful diplomatic initiative to bring Saudi Arabia and Iran closer to each other, and through the OIC, guarantee Saudi and other Gulf countries sovereignty, stability, and security while promoting the principle of non-intervention in the national affairs of other Islamic nations. It is time for Pakistan to take a leading role in bringing all Islamic nations on the same page and help turn the Islamic bloc into a powerful player in present-day global politics.
Indeed, it is a most arduous task. But then, who said that political correctness is a bed of roses? So far, there has been a lack of vision and an acute shortage and deficit of political correctness in the political behavior of Pakistan’s leadership.
Let us hope that Professor Mashkoor Hussain Yad turns out to be wrong in his poetic eloquence.
Or will we face the music as our enemies are knocking at our door – with a US-led western push for a New World Order?