Dr. Umar Khan
Dr. Khan heads a Lahore based Think Tank.
Voters making Pakistan proud
Pakistanis are accused to lack education and civility. They are considered poor with extremist tendencies lacking tolerance making them absolutely unfit for modern democracy and human rights. This aspersing tirade against Pakistanis is being conducted by the western media with able and active help of our rulers working hard to convince the world of the lowness of Pakistanis improving their utility for them. Nothing could be farther from truth as Pakistanis have again and again clearly shown that they are peace loving enlightened people whenever allowed to vote. On 18th of February elections they voted overwhelmingly for democracy and democrats rejecting the religious extremists and all others who sided with the non-democratic forces. There is no surprise here for keen observers as for quite some time voices supporting the undemocratic forces had silenced and it was a rarity to find someone favoring them. Pakistanis might be poor and illiterate but certainly not unwise. They are surprisingly enlightened aware of their good and bad much better than the electorate of many developed countries. I am so proud of my 160 million Pakistanis who never stop surprising.
The latest collective national judgment came when the largest democracy India was choosing bigots like Narendra Moodi and the strongest democracy the USA has repeatedly elected the war mongering neocons. By rejecting the extremists the electorate has made it impossible for the non-democratic forces to play the deadly Algerian game in Pakistan in which the undemocratic state keeps on fighting the extremists it covertly supports. Nothing short of miraculous, the Pakistanis have all the rights to be proud of themselves.
This is not the first time they have shown their wisdom clearly. 38 years ago when we were enduring another tyrant in 1970, the electorate unmistakably rejected the religious parties and the backward forces in the first Pakistani elections. We have had so many tyrants that at times it is a bit difficult to keep count of them; it was probably the second tyrant in 1970 who was actively supporting the backward looking political parties with strong leaning towards extremism and intolerance. He also underestimated the public and hoped to fool them prolonging his reign. He was surprised to see the marvelous collective wisdom of the people and conceitedly refused to accept it. He and other antidemocratic forces questioned the decision of the people wrongly using a few verses of Iqbal denouncing the whole electoral process. This callous act of our old tyrant broke the country, as he preferred to surrender to the enemies over conceding to its people. Even in the highly managed elections of 1980s and 90s the people did express their wisdom whenever possible. No wonder I am proud of my people.
Unfortunately there is a small class of privileged people who have been able to rule Pakistan from its very inception. Originally it consisted of feudals and British trained bureaucrats who considered themselves superiors and the Pakistanis natives. Later they allowed some generals and newly rich business class to enter this closely guarded club of rulers to strengthen their hold on power. This class always looked down at Pakistanis declaring them unfit for democracy or to make decisions for themselves. They never gave freedom to the people and prided in degrading them. In informal discussions they openly proclaim that they have to guide the people as a father. Whatever qualifies them to be a father figure is a well-kept secret. Interestingly a close study of our history shows that common Pakistanis are wiser than this group of people and make far better choices. Whenever the ruling classes arrogantly overruled the decisions of the people, we harmed the nation.
The unelected Pakistani rulers started the 65 war without asking the people, then started a war against their own people in 1971, fought in the cold war devastating the basic fabric of the society in the 80s, started the Kargill war and now are busy fighting the American war against terrorism killing our own people. All these events have seriously harmed the nation and a lesser nation might not have been able to survive this recklessness. Despite its unparalleled resilience the Pakistani nation is going through tremendous pain due to them. If these rulers have an iota of conscience in them they must apologize to the nation and promise not to repeat their follies.
This imprudent but selfish ruling class routinely blames the people for its failures. In the process they keep on degrading and defaming the Pakistani people for their own petty benefits. The more they are able to scare the west by portraying the Pakistanis as senseless sub humans the more they find themselves in need of thus perpetuating their rule. Now that it has been repeatedly proven that the collective wisdom is much better than individual wisdom of a few self proclaimed deliverers we must devise ways to free ourselves of this injurious cycle and nobody can do it but the Pakistanis themselves. They must control their destiny and not allow anyone snatching their rights. According to Churchill when a nation has allowed itself to fall under a tyrannical regime, it cannot be absolved from the faults due to the guilt of that regime and neither can we. Any excuse would serve a tyrant and they have been doing it blatantly in Pakistan, and we must stop giving them any more of them. Some psychologists think that all men would be tyrants if they could, so we should simply ensure that no one is ever able to be one. Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God and we need to resist it to the utmost as it is the root cause of all our problems, or shall we say the core issue?
Despite our strengths we Pakistanis are guilty of allowing others to abuse us not standing up sufficiently for our rights. History has shown that whenever we stood for our rights we prevailed. Even the current relatively fair elections did not come by chance as the same government arranged the highly rigged 2002 and the subsequent local body elections. The government knew of its fate in free elections and begged the world for permission to rig them humiliating the nation in the process. It was the historic mobilization of the civil society after the lawyers’ movement and the assertiveness of the media and other segments of the society that convinced the foreign powerbrokers not to offend the Pakistani public any more. They could not afford the fury of the Pakistanis, which could surface in case of rigged or stolen elections. This eleven months of struggle gave us a reasonably fare elections we are unaccustomed to and the Pakistani electorate took full advantage of this opportunity. Oh I am so proud of Pakistanis!
The Pakistanis have come a long way and the worst seems to be over for them but there is still struggle left. Pakistanis have to win their rights and they can do it. They have shown their wisdom but still have to show their resolve to fight for their rights. They have suffered a lot for this weakness. They can still overcome all their previous mistakes by finally breaking the shackles and taking their destiny in their own hands. Only this way we can earn the respect in the community of nations that we deserve, as a peaceful, enlightened and prosperous nation. Proud Pakistanis I am proud of you and you have all the reasons to be proud of yourselves.