Sometimes the unsaid needs to be said and said with the emphasis it deserves. After the rise of the so called ‘Western world’; the rest of the world became the ‘White man’s burden’ to paraphrase Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), an influential English voice of undivided India. It was this ‘burden’ that ‘persuaded’ the Western world/Europe, which greatly benefited from the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840), to colonise the rest of the world — from Asia to Africa, to the Americas, to China, to the Middle East and elsewhere. The erstwhile colonial powers exploited the riches of the colonised — both its human as well as its physical bounties — to the fullest. And that ugly story continues, in one form or the other, to this day.
The United States still cannot reconcile with its racist past; Europe still meddles and steals the riches of its former colonies with France leading the pack. The United Kingdom still looks down upon its mostly brown and black ‘Pax Britannica’, herding it through ‘the Commonwealth’ whose wealth benefits only the Crown. And the economic hitmen still control levers of the world through exploitative tools like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and scores of other international bodies, mostly staffed by white men and women with a sprinkling of ‘others’ under the smoke screen of ‘equal opportunity’ and ‘affirmative action’.
Entry to these so-called world bodies is governed by the lopsided rules made by a white bureaucracy, which makes it harder for ‘others’ to be part of their decision-making pyramids. For individuals to be part of these organisations, one has to be pliant, liberal, politically correct and preferably schooled in the West/US with acceptable ideas and proficiency in English and a penchant for burgers, Hollywood and the dollar. For nations to be part of this world order, the rules are clear — ‘toe the line or get aside’. The powerful Western world and its US rudder will not tolerate opinions and policies, considered inconsistent with their interests.
The US can bomb Afghanistan to the Stone Age, to smoke Bin Laden out, killing women and children in their sleep and in marriage parties; but would be shedding crocodile tears on ‘human rights violation’ in China, Hong Kong and elsewhere. France would send its military to its former African colonies to protect its loot and undemocratic protégés, in brazen violation of the UN Charter; but would not tolerate its own Muslim citizens exercising the right of wearing a headscarf/veil and practicing their religion with freedom — all ostensibly under the garb of a skewed legal and legislative system.
The civilised West would invest in the elite — the ashhrafiyya — to control most ‘other’ countries without exception. Even in distant Russia, they would prop Mr Navalny against President Vladimir Putin and enlist leaders of former Soviet-bloc nations. This top-tier elite is schooled in the West, protected, groomed, facilitated — and if required parachuted — in the power corridors of these mostly developing nations, to do the western bidding. Pakistan has its own long list.
Under hubris that rises from such power and leverage, the European Parliament last week adopted a resolution to review trade relations with Pakistan, especially its Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) status. Seemingly, the aim is to impose a review on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws; particularly in the case of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel (on death row since 2014 for texting ‘blasphemous’ messages). In reality, the overwhelmingly adopted resolution (662 to three with 26 not voting) is to punish Pakistan for anti-France sentiment, drummed up by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
Paradoxically, who can bring the powerful to justice for their own religious and racial crimes — in a world where George Floyd (1973-2020) ‘cannot breathe’ or a black kid is caged to amuse its white masters; where women cannot cover their heads; where ‘halal’ is uncouth; and where Muslims cannot build a mosque to peacefully pray, because their religion is considered ‘intolerant and dangerous’. ‘Double standards’ are a compliment to this motely crowd of bureaucrats, influencers, journalists and leaders from the civilised West… they have no standards or only ‘their standards’. All the rest fall in line and play the game by their rules or are famished and finished.
Leaders in our part of the world that show spine are either deposed and/or assassinated, and the servitude is made to continue through the elite. Without popular awakening and stakes in the system, nothing good can be expected from the West-US combine. And popular awakening in Pakistan’s case is beholden to our sold-out ashhrafiyya in cahoots with a soulless media. Even the well-intentioned military regimes have done little to dent the ashhrafiyya’s stranglehold and monopoly of power, due to their dependence on the same elite for legitimacy.
This ashhrafiyya continues to scare any government for decisions at tandem with the Western interests; citing the fragility of our economy. They would scare gutsy leaders about sanctions and the FATF’s sword of Damocles; and all the hell breaking loose, if Pakistan doesn’t comply to the US/Western diktat.
The parachuted ashhrafiyya in our power corridors works only for the benefits of IMF and WB, etc, interested only in getting more loans, and returning loan instalments with full interest, without any regard to its social fallout. They are keener than their masters to document our much bigger informal economy, that actually runs this country. So that, our only remaining element of national power, that enables this country to survive, is surrendered.
This ashhrafiyya is Western-schooled, their kids study and work abroad under foreign largesse; they have properties abroad and they mostly hold dual nationalities. They would, understandably, scoff at the benign demands of the TLP. An inconclusive session of parliament stands as a stark reminder.
Kicking out the French ambassador is one such test, for the wanton insults that the French government under Emmanuel Macron, heaps on Muslims, their religion and on the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him). One craves to experience the effects of defying the Western diktat to see heavens falling! And Pakistan starving to death! Obviously, nothing that apocalyptic will happen. The great Pakistani ingenuity will find better alternatives to survive and thrive. Afterall, we became a nuclear power, completely relying on our people, our power and our potential.
The pendulum of history swings with the bold and the moral. Compromises take nations nowhere.
Meanwhile, the scared ashhrafiyya can emigrate to live in France.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2021.