All news space, electronic and print, all newsmakers be they government, opposition or non-government, and pretty much everyone with a beard, turban or both, is preoccupied with Raymond Davis and the mystery of his visa. It’s a story that started with people drawing parallels with B-grade Hollywood films starring George Segal, but has since been upgraded to a film worthy, at the very least, of Harrison Ford.
So we froth and fume over Davis. Our religious parties rush out on to the streets and our politicians to television talk shows where the street sees them daily in the safety of their homes. All of them, the army, religious parties, rightwing political forces, opposition parties, nationalist parties and, to a lesser extent, the government know the score but cannot bring themselves to saying it like it is.
For six decades, we have systematically destroyed all that is required to build a country and equip its people to live and survive in a world that is globalised and hierarchical. We are so wrapped up in a false sense of self and so self-absorbed that we seem to have little or no understanding of how the world works or how it sees us. This lack of understanding just makes us reactive. Tell any Pakistani that we are isolated and they react with strategic depth and the nuclear power theory. The truth is, forget the US, UK and Europe where visas make life difficult. Just take a look around the neighbourhood. The Indians hate us, the Afghans despise us, the Iranians and Arabs look at us with unveiled contempt, the Chinese, who knows what the Chinese think, they smile a lot and tell us to make friends with our neighbours. Even the Sri Lankans now require us to get a visa. And what’s worse is we don’t even like ourselves. We are constantly pulling each other down and do all we can to ensure that no one succeeds.
What else can we do when we have invested our future, not in our people, not in their education, betterment, advancement or progress but in a nuclear arsenal and military might? A huge standing army does not add up to much other than a land grab and a drain on resources. No education, on the other hand, adds up to a lot. It adds up to a closed mind, to no understanding, to no access to information, no ability to advance oneself, to no control over oneself, to having no choices, to not being able to exercise choices that one should have. An educated mother does not just mean an educated family; it could mean much more, a smaller healthier family which, in turn, means less stress on limited resources. It adds up to buying in to the strategic depth and nuclear arsenal. It adds up to chauvinism of the worst kind and places a pugree on its ugly head. It adds up to a lot of noise and no substance.
Most of all, it adds up to a mindset that is out to destroy Pakistan. When people, particularly young people, ask the question ‘why’, we, as a nation, are not equipped to answer them. Our silence allows space to those who have an answer. And that answer comes with a suicide jacket. It is the only answer they are getting and, as we have seen to our own horror, imbibing.
This is not a problem restricted to segments of society, it appears to be pervasive. We know everything and we know best. Instead of listening, learning, following markets, being relevant and being players we are happiest sitting out, talking loudly, claiming to know everything and asking for aid. We want tariffs changed but won’t change our product range. Did you know that more American men wear boxers but we continue making briefs and just want a bigger quota for our briefs on a lower tariff. Makes absolute sense, after all briefs are nice and tight and will keep a firm grip on the world’s b***s.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2011.