The wrath of Khan: Pakistan and the people's revolution

Published 31.07.2018 01:02
Updated 31.07.2018 02:13

The indefatigable struggle of Pakistan, and that of every post-colonial society, has been how to facilitate the emergence of representative governance that seizes the instruments of state power – be it cultural, economic or political, away from kept rajas or hired kinglets. How to commandeer supremacy away from stately impostors, with deep pockets and mighty enablers – both foreign and domestic, whose politics is only self-aggrandizement? In fact, this "béni-oui-oui," "brown sahib" or "beyaz Türkler" privileged class loathe their compatriots and rationalize their entitlement with a lofty sense of self. They rule only to institutionalize cronyism, inequality and corruption. "If not us, then who?" They wryly ask, while constantly evoking a "Western" narrative to garner foreign approval, which, despite their authoritarianism, they obtain.

Their discourse is old and unimaginative. It revolves around labeling their own people as poor, backward, uneducated and laughably "devout," who are incapable of inebriating themselves to achieve higher civilization. In fact, they need this rationalization, in order to deliberately obstruct social development and stifle creativity; a stratagem contrived to sustain their dystopian dispensation, which ensures their overlordship. So, say what you will about the mighty Khan, this is what is so infuriates him, and countless millions in Pakistan who support the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) or Movement for Justice: How dare these fat cats indulge and pamper themselves on account of an impoverished populace, only to mock them in the same breath? That is the wrath of Khan.

Of course, as demoralizing as this is, what more could one possibly expect from such maladroit kinglets and the post-colonial predicament. For far too long, the Sharifs, Bhuttos and host of others have dominated Pakistan's political landscape engaging in mere "noora kushti" (a pretend fight) – a seemingly serious contestation, which actually belies their collaboration. What is even more disturbing is that these rulers share very little in common with their own society, as Sartre writes, they are the handiwork of European elites who "picked out promising adolescents… branded them, as with red-hot iron, with the principles of Western Culture…stuffed their mouths full with high-sounding phrases, grand glutinous words that stuck to their teeth." Then, after a short stay in the mother country, these walking lies were sent home and had nothing left to say to their brothers. Of course, how could they speak? When neither their thoughts, words, or art was their own. Their ideas? A mumbled juxtaposition of contradictory, wayward and poorly-thought viewpoints. As the great Arab poet Gibran writes, "Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest...whose art is the art of patching and mimicking."

This is precisely the type of pseudo-liberals, sloppy intellectuals and "burger" (elite) families that Imran Khan berates for their hypocrisy, who control the purse strings of Pakistan and benefit from weak institutions. These are the people that support the status quo in Pakistan, who Imran Khan, Shireen Mazari, Asad Umar, Hamid Khan, Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, Jehangir Tareen, Pervaiz Khattak, Abrar-ul-Haq and numerous others mock as post-colonial elites with misplaced values.

Now, with this resounding and unparalleled victory, Khan has convinced enough people to take a chance on his party. He has given millions upon millions a hope they did not have. And, this is no different than the passions that drove the Arab Spring. The wrath that drives the Great Khan is one that values indigenous knowledge systems, refuses to outsource their country and fight someone else's war. In other words, Khan demands that the principles of the "native" be taken seriously and acknowledges the indigenous wisdom of his people, encouraging them to look within their own sources of legitimacy for the impetus of progress and revival.

The 11th general election, in the remarkable, exciting, but challenging history of Pakistan, has captivated tens of millions across the globe. Indeed, this election is seen as a transformational moment in Pakistan's complex political development. It comes after a gargantuan effort had been made to eradicate the corrupt institutional practices and structures that permitted democracy, only to hijack the popular vote. That has now changed. Recall that 35 million fake voters were identified and prior to holding a fair and free election, the ways and means of cheating needed to be addressed. And that is what was done over the preceding years, so that, truly, this vote represents the will of the people of Pakistan. What makes this election even more interesting is that the two most damaging aspects of Pakistan political history are being confronted: First, the economic, feudal or industrial families that have used Pakistan as their personal business fiefdoms; Second, military generals that have established their dictatorships.

In fact, it was Plato, who more than a millennium ago wisely stated "Ruin comes when the trader, whose heart is lifted up by wealth, becomes a ruler or when the general uses his army to establish a military dictatorship. The producer is at his best in the economic field, the warrior is at his best in the battle; they are both at their worst in public office, and in their crude hands politics submerges statesmanship." The reason being that statesmanship is a science and an art; one must have lived for it and have been long prepared. Now, with this victory, Imran Khan has an even greater burden on his shoulders – that is to deliver.

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