Suddenly, there is a chorus of indignant voices about Pakistan’s sovereignty and honour. Former dictator Pervez Musharraf has described the US operation to kill Osama bin Laden as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Members of the Senate from the opposition benches, are screaming themselves hoarse about the breach of our sovereignty and have demanded an explanation from our leaders. Several TV anchors and journalists are parroting the sovereignty discourse day in and day out. The sovereignty rhetoric comes on the heels of the chief of army staff’s Yaum-e-Shuhada address in which he declared that Pakistan would not trade the nation’s honour and integrity for the sake of prosperity.
It was a pleasant surprise to discover that we are sovereign because our constitution, framed by our honourable leaders in 1973, tells us in its first sentence that sovereignty, over the entire universe, belongs to Allah alone. Not only did we constitutionally cede our sovereignty, we subsequently surrendered our economic sovereignty, the basis of political sovereignty, to the US, and ultimately to the IMF and the World Bank. For years now, it is the IMF that tells us which taxes to levy, how much to spend on our people, how high or low the interest rate should be, how to privatise basic services and rights such as health and education. In other words, that ultimate political document that determines who produces wealth and income and on whom and how it is spent, the budget, is formulated by actors other than our elected representatives, who obediently acquiesce and pretend that they are the ones who make decisions. Strangely, nobody shouts about sovereignty from the rooftops when this charade is carried out annually.
Amazingly, we don’t worry about our imagined and ever-slipping sovereignty when foreigners, of all shades and hues, occupy our ungoverned and governed areas. We only worry about hospitality, whether it is the Haqqani network, entrenched obstinately in our allegedly ‘ungovernable’ areas, or Osama bin Laden himself, comfortably ensconced in a spacious house in close proximity to our military academy. We develop total amnesia about our sovereignty when al Qaeda members converge on our hospitable soil from all four corners of the world and kill, maim and mutilate our citizens with wild abandon. They blow up our markets, bomb our public spaces and murder our men, women and children with heartless regularity. We suddenly wake up to issues of sovereignty only when the world’s most feared terrorist outfit is decapitated. We seem to have become so used to ceding our sovereignty to outsiders, roaming all over our land and killing us, that we have forgotten what sovereignty means.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ