Sunday October 01, 2023

Narrative of betrayal

May 13, 2022

Today, our national politics is seeing a lot of talk about two historical characters, whose betrayal two centuries ago is considered to be the main reason behind the start of the domination of British imperialism in the Subcontinent.

Ousted prime minister Imran Khan has been frequently mentioning ‘Mir Jaffer’ and ‘Mir Sadiq’ in his public addresses. Even during the recent Abbottabad jalsa, he crossed all boundaries to elaborate their role. The irresponsible statements also created problems for his spokespersons to defend and justify. In this regard, an important statement came out from the ISPR that the army should not be involved in politics. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif hinted on the floor of the National Assembly about taking legal action against Imran Khan.

However, the former prime minister has now clarified that he had used the metaphor of Mir Jaffer and Mir Sadiq for his political rivals, the Sharif brothers. In my view, Khan should study history carefully before using the names of these two characters in the context of current political situations.

Two centuries ago, Sirajud Daula, the nawab of Bengal, was the sovereign ruler of Bengal – and under attack by the British. The East India Company's army consisted of 3,000 soldiers while Siruajud Daula had an army of 50,000. However, he was defeated and lost his life during the Battle of Plassey. Mir Jaffer was his most trustworthy companion and the commander of the Bengal army, but he betrayed the nawab and succeeded him after the British victory in 1757.

Similarly, Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore, was the biggest obstacle in the way of British imperialism in India. He had defeated the East India Company on various fronts, but the British succeeded in making a secret alliance with Mir Sadiq, a minister in the cabinet of Sultan. During the Siege of Srirangapatna in 1799, he betrayed Tipu Sultan, paving the way for a remarkable British victory.

If the situation of two centuries ago is examined from the situation of Pakistan today, then we neither have the rule of Sultans or Nawabs nor are we facing any attack of any foreign imperialist power. Unlike Mir Jaffer and Mir Sadiq, the Sharif brothers are not close companions of the ousted ruler and, thus, blaming them for betrayal cannot be justified.

In the era of Mir Jaffer and Mir Sadiq, there was a monarchical system of government but today Pakistan is a modern democratic country. Unconditional loyalty to the constitution of 1973 is a must for every Pakistani citizen. Prime Minister Mian Shehbaz Sharif has been elected by the public representatives in the parliament through a legitimate and constitutional process.

In fact, deviation from the constitution is the actual betrayal. Today, all our national institutions, including the armed forces, the Supreme Court and the Election Commission, are performing their duties in a professional way within constitutional limits. In such a situation, mocking the national institutions or inciting their leadership to take unconstitutional steps is treason against the state.

Our national tragedy is that we, rather than taking notice of our own mistakes and overcoming loopholes, give more importance to lame excuses for our failures. We love to believe in the popular narrative of betrayal that our own people are involved in conspiracies against us.

Ancient philosopher Chanakya had advised hundreds of years ago that a ruler must focus on every front. It is very necessary to keep an eye on the external forces, and at the same time, solid steps should be taken for internal peace and prosperity in the best interests of the people.

In such circumstances, it is quite clear who is currently playing the treacherous character of Mir Jaffer and Mir Sadiq in our politics. However, if someone is still confused, he/she should wait for the verdict of history because history never forgives traitors.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

He tweets @RVankwani