Pakistan's Dignity Deficit: The Lessons of the Arab Revolt

Category: Asia, World Affairs Topics: Pakistan Channel: Opinion Views: 5885

Pakistan's ruling elites may well be thinking that the wave of people's indignation that has overthrown the corrupt tyrants in Tunisia and Egypt will never reach them. Perhaps, they are telling each other, 'We are a democracy: we are safe.' They could be wrong.

The Arab revolt is directed not only against dictatorial regimes. Equally, it is directed against governments that have sold their dignity and bartered the honor of their country. Nearly, all the Arab rulers are self-castrated eunuchs in the courts of Western powers; they have bartered their people's dignity for the support Western powers give to their corrupt and tyrannical regimes. 

The Arabs are venting their anger against elites who have stymied their energies by turning their societies into prisons. In complicity with foreign powers, these elites have ruled by fear, blocking the forward movement of their people because this collides with the imperialist ambitions of Israel and the United States.

It is true that Pakistan has had 'elected' governments alternating with military dictatorships. Increasingly, however, these governments, whether civilian or military, have differed little from each other. The priority for both is to keep their power and US-doled perks by doing the bidding of the United States.

Starting in the early 1990s, Pakistan hurriedly embraced the neoliberal paradigm that emanated from Washington. Pakistan's military, landed, and trading elites chose to align their economic interests with that of global corporations. Without a protest, they allowed Washington to impose a new colonialism with the glib mantra that 'liberalization' will bring massive flows of foreign capital - and enrich Pakistan.

The neoliberal paradigm is a lie: it subsumes the economic interests of the great powers. Two decades of neoliberal policies have not brought any new growth-driving industries to Pakistan. To this day, the country relies on the products of its farms and low-value manufactures for the modest volume of its exports. If Pakistan has been spared economic bankruptcy, in part this is because of the blood money it has 'earned' for waging America's war against its own people.

Pakistan's short-lived bouts of democracy have been a farce. The country's elites jostle for power in the corridors of Washington or London. The farcical elections bring the same gaggle of wealthy parliamentarians, who have repeatedly proved their appetite for corruption, mismanagement, and untiring loyalty to foreign paymasters.

Since September 2001, these betrayals of Pakistan's sovereignty and the erosion of its dignity have been sinking to new depths that know no bottom. Sham democracies or dictatorships: they do the same things. They have Washington, betrayal, inefficiency and corruption written all over them.

These governments trade in the lives, livelihood and dignity of their own people. In September 2001, at the sound of single threat from Washington, the usurper generals joined America's global war against terror. Without consulting the people, they gave away Pakistan's air space, air bases, and land corridors to the US military.

General Musharraf was ready to commit Pakistani troops to fight the Iraqis, alongside US and NATO troops. He repeatedly made moves to recognize the Israeli colonial-settler state; and many in Pakistan's media pleaded Israel's case by touting the many advantages that the Jewish lobby in the US could confer on Pakistan. What blindness: what treachery. These plans were shelved only in the face of mounting street protests from Pakistan's mullahs.

Over the past decade, Pakistani governments have caved in to virtually every US assault on Pakistan's sovereignty and dignity. For the first time in its history, thousands of Pakistanis have disappeared to be secreted in prisons, tortured, and renditioned to the United States. General Musharraf boasted of the blood money he took from the United States for kidnapping and renditioning 'terrorists' to the United States. 

Pakistan's rulers have turned its military into a mercenary army and worse. For the last ten years, the Pakistani military has battled Afghans fighting to free their country from foreign occupation. It has also been attacking and killing Pakistanis who give shelter to Afghan fighters.

In retaliation, the Pakistani Taliban started attacking Pakistan's military and - in desperation and folly - they have carried on a campaign of murderous attacks against civilians. These naf's do not know that Pakistan's rulers will not change course to avoid any loss of life except their own. 

Soberly considered, is there much to choose between Mubarak and Musharraf, between Zein Ali and Zardari. Equally, under their rule and that of their likes, Arabs and Pakistanis have fallen shamefully behind in the march of history. For too long, these nations have faced the same shameful deficits of sovereignty, justice and dignity.

Can we hope that the wave of protests that are now sweeping across the Arab world will sooner rather than later also reach Pakistan's shores? The contagion of a people in motion, striding forward and making sacrifices, respects no cultural or religious boundaries. The impact of the new and still-spreading Arab intifada against US-Israeli hegemony, operating under the cover of local tyrannies, will be felt across the globe, wherever people suffer under the same imperialist yoke.

This is a wake-up call for Pakistan's middle classes. In their often mindless pursuit of consumerism, their neglect of the knowledge-oriented culture of their ancestors, their excessive fascination with all things Western, Pakistan's middle classes have lost their historical agency. They have not been the force that they could have been in shaping the laws, the knowledge and institutions that could move them forward while retaining an organic connection to the best traditions of their own heritage.

If the people of Pakistan fail to act, Pakistan's elites and their Taliban alter ego - the extremist backlash evoked by their treachery - will continue to push the country towards collapse. That collapse may not be too far away, unless Pakistan's young generation - like those in Tunisia and Egypt - take matters into their hand.

Let a million voices tweet, let a million Pakistanis assemble in every major city, and produce the energy, the electricity, vibrations and waves that will coalesce into a thousand creative projects for reconstructing their society, projects to regain the knowledge they have lost, to recover their stolen dignity, and drink again from the spiritual fountain that alone gives meaning to life.

God has honored the children of Adam, the Qur'an says. Shamefacedly, Pakistan's elites have dishonored the children of Adam in Pakistan for more than six decades. Now is the time for the Pakistani children of Adam to raise their hands and their voices to regain the honor that they have lost and that is theirs by God-given right.


M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University, Boston. He is author of Israeli Exceptionalism (Palgrave, 2009) and Poverty from the Wealth of Nations (Macmillan, 2000). Visit his website at Qur'anic Reason (

  Category: Asia, World Affairs
  Topics: Pakistan  Channel: Opinion
Views: 5885

Related Suggestions

Related posts from similar channels:

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Older Comments:
Mr Alam shows the typical arrogance of the American academic professors and ignorance of basic facts about human nature.
First by saying that "nearly all the Arab rulers are self castrated eunuchs in the courts of western powers" he is showing his shallow and mean mentality without knowing the real facts in person. Reading media reports in the cozy libraries of west will not open his eyes. Arabs rulers are pro western due to their pragmatism. And if Mr Alam is so critical of western powers, he better pack his bags and go back to where he appeared from. Had he stayed in his native country, he would have joined the same pro western powers if he was an educated person. he would be as corrupt as others that he is preaching against. Middle eastern countries have alliance with the west because their own people fail them. Saddam was the protector of Arabs. Mr Alam forgets what he did to Iran first and then Kuwait and other Gulf countries. Therefore, for their peace and security, the Arab rulers have to have strategic alliances with the Western powers.
Coming to Pakistan, Mr Alam forgets that it is the people who are a failure themselves. Stop leader bashing sir because cowards like you are failing to admit that leaders come from people and time and again the people have failed themselves. When the whole nation is made of eunuchs, no virile angels will descend from sky. (like the east India company landed in Calcutta long time ago) The whole nation has no dignity as you have at least mentioned. Walk on the streets of Karachi and Lahore and see if you see a real human being. You see incoherent, numb, stupid, arrogant,corrupt,paranoid, angry, mean, jealous, dirty, kinky, quarrelsome, etc etc people. You don't see Human beings. Only a massive revolution that shakes the people and beats them into moral humans may change the fate of the country.
So please accept the facts and do something about this moral eduction for the country.

just like people of Misr,pakistanis should bow down to ALLAH al together to get rid of the Pharaos amongst themselves &ask ALLAH to help them in this quest as He is the only true helper