Everyone has an opinion in Pakistan, including me. Especially about things way above our pay-grade, and more so when shifting blame is fair game. The following, then, is a concise examination of the Pakistani political thought.
1. The big, bad RAW
Every ill, whether hidden or glaring, can be traced directly back to India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). RAW made Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto reject Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's East-Pakistan mandate, and set the country's partition in motion. RAW also persuaded General Pervez Musharraf to lurch Pakistan into "Operation Enduring Freedom," thereby contributing to our 50,000 dead by once-domesticated militants. After all, there is no better way to unite an out-of-whack federation than a national boogeyman, and RAW fits that role to a tee. Even Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, generally mild-mannered about India, huffed through the Foreign Secretary that RAW was behind acts of terrorism in Pakistan.
2. Secularism solves everything
This liberal premise holds that Pakistan is grounded by its "Islamic Republic" roots. Yes, and no. Pakistan is an ideological state created in the name of Islam for the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. Without this binding glue, the country is just a bunch of mutually suspicious ethnicities that keep bringing up secession. Over the years, there have been separatist movements for each province barring Punjab. The army, fiercely nationalistic, has caned the dissidents into place thus far, but force won't work forever. The call-to-arms for the Pakistan Movement was "Pakistan ka matlab kiya? La ilaha Ilallah (What does Pakistan mean? There is no God but Allah)". You take Islam out of Pakistan's constitution and the federation is meaningless.
"Every dictatorship in Pakistan has eventually hankered for public validation, and in the process, counter-intuitively allied itself with the same mouldy faces it kicked out."
3. When in Islamabad...
You can't keep a good man down, or so the saying goes. In Pakistan, you can't keep a good man up, and away from temptation. Imran Khan is the poster politician for the country's calculated moral decay. When he started the Tehreek-e-Insaaf party in 1996, Imran was a national talisman. Now he is the political equivalent of Lord Voldemort. Any intra-party attempts to question his autocracy lead to a swift crackdown, and while Imran raves about a "Naya" (New) Pakistan, an estranged colleague recently accused him of mass corruption. The uncomfortable question then is, that if a man who has everything can pack away his principles for power-lust, what chance does the poor schmuck on the street have to stay saintly?
4. The cobwebs of the Cold War calculus
Pakistan, unfortunately, suffers from a foreign policy vocabulary stuck in the Cold War era. This approach paints its neighbours, and the world at large, in black and white; friend or foe. After the $46 billion economic corridor deal with China, every green-blooded Pakistani thumbed his nose at India. The local media too morphed into a patriotic drum-line. Curiously, no one fact-checked that China is India's biggest trading partner, and just signed agreements worth $22 billion more. Pakistan has the same problem with America. Since the country shed blood in "their war" for billions in blood money, it now expects US politicians to pledge permanent allegiance to Pakistan.
5. A day late and a 101.800 rupees short
Everything wrong with Pakistan today stems from a lack of due diligence. It's hardly surprising, since the new national motto is "tension nahi leni" (take a chill pill). Everyone from the rickshaw driver to a heart surgeon parrots this endlessly, thereby absolving themselves of escalating mediocrity. The only national enterprise institutionally capable of correcting course is the army. So why have the generals failed so many times? Every dictatorship in Pakistan has eventually hankered for public validation, and in the process, counter-intuitively allied itself with the same mouldy faces it kicked out. Barring a local incarnation of Lee Kuan Yew or Mahathir Mohammed, Pakistan will always remain the out-of-luck Babu Bhatt from Seinfeld.
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