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Pakistan: A passive society

Amjed Jaaved

OUR society is a simmering cauldron yearning for change. Yet, we have no leader to translate people’s dreams into a reality. Great leadership begins with a leader with a world view [Weltanschanschauung]. Bad leaders spell disaster, but good ones conjure magic. Weltanschauung is a German word which literally means ‘world view’. The word combines “Welt” (“world”) with “Anschauung” (“view”), which ultimately derives from the Middle High German verb schouwen (“to look at” or “to see”). It is a particular philosophy or view of life; the world views of an individual or group. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs forming a global description through which an individual, group or culture watches and interprets the world and interacts with it.
Hitler, otherwise viewed as a psychopath, explains his ‘world view in Chapter 1 of his autobiography (Weltenschauung and party, page 298) Mein Kampf (My Struggle). He says ‘Thus we brought to knowledge of public those first principles and lines of action along which the new struggle was to be conducted for the abolition of a confused mass of obsolete ideas which had obscure and often pernicious tendencies’. In his autobiography (written in prison), Hitler reviews all aspects of German life, the World War I defeat, collapse of the Second Reich, ‘the mask of Federalism’, ‘propaganda and organisation’, ‘German post-War policy of alliances’, and Germany’s policy in Eastern Europe’. His efforts to forge alliances with adversaries reflect that he was a rational flexible man. Napoleon’s ‘world view’ (like Julius Caesar’s) epitomises his lust for ‘power’ and contempt for ‘constitution’. During his self-crowning in 1804, Napoleon said, “What is the throne, a bit of wood gilded and covered with velvet. I am the state. I alone am here, the representative of the people”.
Today, we have no leader, like Quaid-e-Azam, with a ‘world view’, no ‘story line’ of sustained committed struggle. MJ Akber rightly observes ‘The [Pakistani] political leaders act like sand dunes. They move in the direction the wind blows’ (Akber, In Pakistan Today, Mittal Publications, New Delhi, p. 216). John R. Schmidt agrees, ‘ The mainstream political parties in Pakistan can best be viewed as patronage networks, whose primary goal is seeking political offices to gain access to state resources, which can then be used to distribute patronage among their members’ (The Unravelling, Pakistan in the Age of jihad, pages 36-37). Why it is so? Stanley A. Kochanek unpuzzles the conundrum by pointing out ‘Parties in Pakistan are built from the top-down and are identified with their founders. The office holders are appointed by the leader. Membership rolls are largely bogus and organizational structure exists only on paper’ (Interest groups and Development, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1983, p.64). ‘Most political parties are non-democratic in their structure, character and outlook. The process for leadership selection is not by election, but by nomination. Political parties have no links with policy process as personalities rather than issues matter’ (Saeed Shafqat, Contemporary Issues in Pak Studies, pp 247-256).
Our current apathy is a legacy of pre-partition yesteryears. Moghal ‘emperors’ Shah Alam-II and Bahadar Shah Zafar lived on East-India-Company’s dole of Rs. 99,999 a month (Jaswant Singh’s Jinnah: Partition, India Pakistan). East India Company ruled under Moghul seal, until they took off the veneer in 1857 to use Viceroy’s stamp. Our history is an annal of passive acceptance of intruders. The masses remained silent spectators to War of Independence (Sepoy Mutiny 1857) and isolated uprisings in Bengal. David Hume, not any Indian, created Congress followed by four English presidents. Aware of selfishness of the Indian people, the British created a class of chiefs (chieftains) to suit their need for loyalists, war fund raisers and recruiters in post-mutiny period and during the Second World War. Peek into the pre-partition gazetteers and you would know the patri-lineage of today’s’ tiwanas, nawabs, pirs, syed faqirs, qizilbash, kharrals, gakhars, and their ilk. A gubernatorial gazetteer states, ‘I have for many years felt convinced that the time had arrived for the Government to try to introduce some distinction for those who can show hereditary services before the Hon’ble Company’s rule in India ceased. I have often said that I should be proud to wear a Copper Order, bearing merely the words ‘Teesri pusht, Sirkar Company ka Naukar’ (servant of empire for the third generation).
Some pirs and mashaikh even quoted verses from Holy Quran to justify allegiance to Englishman (amir), after loyalty to Allah and the Messenger (PBUH). They pointed out that Quran ordained that ihsan (favour) be returned with favour. The ihsan were British favours like titles (sir, khan bahadur, etc), honorary medals, khilat with attached money rewards, life pensions, office of honorary magistrate, assistant commissioner, courtier, etc. A tiwana military officer even testified in favour of O’Dwyer when the latter was under trial. Gandhi astutely perceived psyche of the Indians (Pakistanis included) (a la Tolstoy’s A Letter to a Hindu) that Indians themselves allowed themselves to be colonized for their own material interests. Otherwise there was no way 30,000 ‘rather weak and ill-looking Britons could enslave 200 million ‘vigorous, clever, strong, and freedom loving people (Stegler, 2000). He lamented that Indians had become ‘sly sycophants and willing servants of the Empire thereby proving to the world that they were morally unfit to serve the country. Let’s pray our sand-dune rulers come up with, at least a uniform education, healthcare and housing policy.
—The writer is a freelance columnist.