Tuesday January 18, 2022

Looking for Jinnah

December 31, 2021

What I said last week about new colonialism which captures Third World countries is now making itself pretty obvious in Pakistan. It is a new kind of slavery whose chains are now debt to the international institutions of the Bretton Woods system, commercial banks, to other countries and to the conditions agreed to.

These conditions exacerbate an already dangerous situation. Debt gives us a false sense of well-being and we soon become addicted to it. The mark of success then becomes whether a country has an IMF programme or not. It’s super-pathetic. They gradually chip away at your sovereignty and capture your essential decision-making institutions. As such, it is feared that Pakistan’s central bank – the State Bank of Pakistan – has been mortgaged to the IMF. When a country loses monetary control, as we have done,to the point where it’s governor is a nominee of the IMF or some such institution – as ours is – then it is truly colonised.

When you have no control over your fiduciary decisions, your taxation, your interest rate etc then for us, the citizens of Pakistan, sovereignty is just a big, fat word that rings hollow. That is what is suspected to be happening to Pakistan.

There is a rumpus going on in our parliament that the government is about to announce a so-called ‘mini-budget’. People fear that it will lead to more taxation, further price hikes in utilities and a decrease in their disposable incomes. This will bring us close to starvation and will highlight our bankruptcy, which we have already achieved.

Foolish members of parliament, because that is all they are, are threatening to defeat the mini-budget bill. Little do they realise that they have as much to do with Pakistan’s bankruptcy as the present government. Were roles to be switched they would immediately start justifying in their convent English and their broken Urdu virtually the same economic measures that this government threatens to take. In the end it will all be the same because they have no choice but to do what the coloniser dictates. The people ruling such countries are products of a sham election process or a non-civilian government. They all come to the same sorry end that the coloniser wishes them to.

In the old colonialism, the coloniser used to prepare his exit in an oh-so-democratic way – like setting up the Indian National Congress or the All India Muslim League and appoint people to run them. The Congress was, for a while, even headed by Englishmen and women. With the All India Muslim League, the coloniser lost control because of one man, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who had his own ideas and who ended up changing the course of history and creating a new nation state.

Jinnah broke the mould. He broke the standard operating procedure that the coloniser had so carefully made for a peaceful exit. Jinnah too went to British educational institutions but, at some point, he realised that Hindus and Muslims could not co-exist. He did become a brown Englishman but his British experience also infected him with the democracy virus; so that is what Jinnah passed on to the Muslim youth. Sadly, Jinnah had no one else like him in the party and, with his passing, all hope for his struggle to morph the independence movement into a revolution went up like smoke.

People ask me what we should do to break out of the vice-like grip of the new coloniser. My only answer is: find another Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It is not impossible because if political evolution could create a Muhammad Ali Jinnah once it can do so again.

To create a revolution we first have to have a realistic ideology, which we have in the form of Islam but we have paid only lip-service to it. We have to have a clear objective and we have to be prepared to make huge sacrifices. We have to have a leadership that does not waver from its purpose. At the moment I do not see anyone on the horizon but, then, who could have seen Mr Jinnah? He actually broke the mould: he was a pukka saheb, could not speak any of our vernacular languages and was not a Muslim scholar. He was a Shia. He did not go to prison even for a minute in a country where prison was a badge of initiation.

One does not have to emulate everything that Jinnah did because his time demanded it but one has to learn from his determination and conviction and become unassailable. Easier said than done, yes – but it has to be done.

The writer is a veteran journalist, political analyst and author.