Perish or rise

Perish or rise —Dr Mahjabeen Islam

There are only three things we need to do as a nation, however simplistic they sound: abolish feudalism, prosecute corruption and establish speedy justice. We have a choice as a nation: perish or rise like a phoenix from the ashes

In collusion with Pakistan’s imbecile political leadership, plans for the balkanisation of Pakistan were going along as scripted until an unlikely interruption: floods of biblical proportions. Forces one to recall an almost wry verse in the Quran: wa yamkuruna wa yamkurullah wallaho khairul makireen — they plot and plan and Allah too plans; and the best of planners is Allah (Anfal 8:30, Al-Imran 3:54).

Michel Chossudovsky, director of the Montreal-based Centre for Research on Globalisation and author of America’s War on Terrorism, in his article ‘The Destabilisation of Pakistan’ says: “Washington’s foreign policy course is to actively promote the political fragmentation and balkanisation of Pakistan as a nation.” Chossudovsky points out “the US strategy, supported by covert intelligence operations, consists in triggering ethnic and religious strife, abetting and financing secessionist movements while also weakening the institutions of the central government”. Chossudovsky’s analysis, Selig Harrison’s 2007 article ‘Drawn and Quartered’ and Pentagon scholar Ralph Peters’ article ‘Blood Borders’ are all based on a 2005 report by the US National Intelligence Council and the CIA. This report forecasts a “Yugoslav-like fate” for Pakistan “in a decade with the country riven by civil war, bloodshed and inter-provincial rivalries, as seen recently in Balochistan”.

The purported interest for all this is control over Pakistan’s nuclear assets, the 25 trillion cubic feet gas (cft) of gas and six trillion barrels of oil sitting in Balochistan and angst over Chinese interest in the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline traversing Balochistan.

With the submersion of thousands of acres, it seems that this is the point that we can springboard to a fresh start. Abolish feudalism and every last remnant of it. Ownership is suspect and documents non-existent. In a crisis that mirrors partition, legislation must erase the iniquity of feudalism and the incalculable damage that it has caused Pakistan and its people. Our deeply corrupt feudal politicians that form a majority in the National Assembly have always worked for self, never for state, so expecting them to pass legislation is to expect the Indus to rewind.

Corruption and Pakistan have become synonymous and we hang our heads in collective national ignominy at the blatant monetary sell-out by certain members of the Pakistan cricket team and their enabling by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Why do all roads lead to the same old place? The Pakistani nation is inured, immune, desensitised to any and all amounts of mind-blowing immorality.

In my floods-induced depression I have an idea, which might seem entirely insane to the president, but someone must convey it to him. He can become Quaid-e-Azam II from the gentle pharaoh that he is now. Mr President, bring all your assets back to Pakistan, each and every dollar/pound and rebuild Pakistan from scratch. Live in a 1,000 square yard home. Wash your party and Pakistan of corruption and make it a prosecutable offence. You are now known as Mr 10 percent; you would be worshipped in life and hallowed in death with street corners bearing witness to your amazing vision, generosity and ability to make Pakistan forget mindless corruption, washed eternally of all its pain, rising anew as a beacon of hope and happiness.

Alright, I am being delusional. Pain and anger do that to people. The pain of the woman whose baby was delivered in the filthy graveyard that the village folk had taken refuge in. Starved herself, she is unable to nurse the baby so it is dying slowly. The pain of children being swept away by the angry waters. The pain of gushing waters and inundated towns, gaunt, weathered faces and desperate eyes. And anger is a mild word, fury is better. Fury at how the law of the jungle prevails in Pakistan. Parliamentarians have this sixth sense, it seems, that they may not be on public payroll too darn long, so why part with any donation? The brutality of the killing of the brothers in Sialkot, the many dead in the Yaum-e-Ali processions in Lahore and Karachi and mainly fury at the pervasive Pakistani mindset of minimising everything and going on with business as usual.

Pakistan, a largely agrarian economy, has had its agricultural base destroyed and this will generate a chain reaction affecting all aspects of life in Pakistan. Estimates vary, but the agricultural loss is Rs 6 billion. Inflation is 25 percent, over 10 percent are unemployed and a whopping 40 percent of the nation now lives below the poverty line. After the water recedes, the support structure that will be needed for rehabilitation will require at least a year’s worth of food and a detailed, exhaustive plan to recreate from zero.

Not only has there been a loss of life and property, the education of the nation’s school and college-going students in the flood-affected areas has been compromised for at least a year.

Developed nations have trouble withstanding floods. Pakistan was teetering before they came. As a nation, though, we cannot feel that band-aiding the situation will do it. In calmer moments one is forced to think that perhaps there is a reason the floods happened, a maslihat (expedient reason) maybe. Perhaps Pakistan was on its way to destruction, what with plans to chop it into four, bomb it every day and pillage it all the time.

If Pakistan becomes worse than Sub-Saharan Africa, if cholera takes several more lives and famine descends upon it while its rulers luxuriate in a-million-rupees-a-day maintenance presidential and prime ministerial residences, then balkanising Pakistan will be ever so easy.

But if our self-respect awakens and the blood of the millions who lost their lives to create Pakistan is valued, we will realise that there are only three things we need to do as a nation, however simplistic they sound: abolish feudalism, prosecute corruption and establish speedy justice. We have a choice as a nation: perish or rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

Mahjabeen Islam is a columnist, family physician and addictionist. She can be reached at

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