Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), a German philosopher and historian, famously stated, “Great men appear when a given socio-economic situation requires them.” The historic phenomenon of the rise from obscurity to the throne of many such great leaders allows us to draw many lessons from history and one such lesson is their rule by the doctrines of orthodoxy, autocracy and nationality. The dawn of democracy ushered a new era in the world and it was hoped that the “old-school type” leaders that believed in grasping power and holding on to it would give way to “more people-represented governance” but unfortunately for the world it has only witnessed a continuous decline in the democratic principles and practices and democracy is generally on the wane. From being great reformists who promised the moon to becoming absolute authoritarians, the world witnesses today a leadership revival from the past defined by the same old leadership characteristics of intolerance, tyranny, ruthlessness, savagery and invincibility. Where are we heading and is there a social glue that can bind humans in peace, amity and tranquility?
The personal character and leadership qualities of the great leaders of the past mattered given the “socio-economic conditions” that confronted them. But over time haven’t these conditions improved considerably? What good have been the periods of renaissance and enlightenment if human rights hardly matter and humanity has overall nosedived and fallen in grace and dignity?
The world gone by was shaped by “men of varying characters” and the future world we are looking at is also likely to be shaped by a present world leadership which instead of relying on “liberty, freedom, rights and fraternity” — the byproducts of democracy, is drowned in the sea of protectionism, populism and nationalistic trickery. What hopes do we carry as the world enters 2020?
Do we want to live in the same strange and cruel world in which our forefathers lived? A world in which the Alexander the Greats, Julius Caesars, Genghis Khans and Napoleons of this world killed millions of people — yet we celebrate not their blood-letting but their achievements? Is the world that endured and tolerated the tyranny and atrocities committed by the likes of Hitler and Genghis Khan alright in tolerating the likes of the present-day Narendra Modis?
India accuses Pakistan of cross-border terrorism but it itself is engaged in the worst kind of “in-border terrorism” that the modern world is not accustomed to seeing. India is burning today and the social contract that binds the rulers to the ruled there is cracking and is on the verge of collapse. Secular India is in flames and its place is being taken over by a majoritarian India that is killing and murdering its minorities. India under Prime Minister Modi’s government seems to be in a hurry to implement its Hindutva ideology and PM Modi is acting like a novice emperor in a new-found Indian empire.
Many people have compared PM Modi with Hitler but what he is doing in India is quite reminiscent of what Genghis Khan did when he formed his empire in 1205. When Genghis Khan sat on the throne of the Mongol Empire, his biggest concern was “how to break down the old tribal, clan and regional loyalties of 31 tribes and the two million people that comprised his empire? How to replace their existing loyalties with a lone loyalty to the Khan?” He introduced “Yassa” the unwritten Genghis Khan code which had 40 statutes, 14 of which ordained capital punishment even for minor offences. That happened in a barbaric world that showcased no human rights and R2P (responsibility to protect). But Modi’s curfews and nationwide CAB and his Hindutva-driven strategy of tyranny that he executes on his own people to keep his 29 states united is happening right under the eyes of a consciously and morally awakened modern world. India, for a long time, has been planning, plotting and strategising to isolate Pakistan internationally and to run it down as a country. Despite the evidence of India’s execution of a continuous proxy war against Pakistan, the world has closed its eyes and stood up with a “rising India”, “a super power in the making India”. For what? India’s huge market. What good will that market now be given the unpopularity of Modi and instability of his political government?
In 2004, President Putin of Russia termed the breakup of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”. Are we going to witness the breakup of India as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 21st Century? Given Modi’s ambitions and his following of the old-school type leadership of Genghis Khan and Hitler, this eventuality seems most likely. Modi who has been hatching plans of Pakistan’s undoing is now caught in a political spiral of his own making.
Pakistan as a state, since the time of its creation, has gone through many troubled times and has endured many highs and lows. Yet, the nation has moved forward and in the midst of periods of despondency and hopelessness we have still been able to find our way forward. This has only been possible because many great men and women have served this nation. Many unsung heroes have sacrificed their lives for us to continue to live our lives with dignity and pride. This realisation of being independent and free has become more pronounced watching what India is doing to its minorities — something Quaid-e-Azam foresaw and warned us about.
We couldn’t have counted our blessings more, specially witnessing what is happening in India and what could have become of us if we had not separated and found for ourselves a free homeland to live in. That great man that Friedrich Engels mentioned appeared in our lives in the form of Quaid-e–Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and as the new year 2020 has dawned on us, we should not forget the man who enabled us to live our lives with dignity and self-respect without having to prove our identity to anybody in the state.
It is not the monsters across the borders that we should be afraid of, it is the monsters that live within us which are the actual threats to the state. No better resolution to start the New Year with but “Unity, Faith and Discipline”, our Quaid’s great quote — the glue of our social binding.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2020.