As 2010 arrives with the departure of another gloomy year that sat heavy on us, I am one of those Pakistanis who still refuse to give up. We are cheated, betrayed, wronged, deceived and taken for a ride for 60 years by the ruling class, civilian and military alike, which has all the power and pelf. They are responsible for the denial of the majority’s right to live as free women and men in safety and comfort, the right to have enough food and clean drinking water for ourselves and our children, the right to clothing and shelter, the right to education and sound health, the right to be equal in the eyes of the law, the right to leisure and the right to lead a decent, respectable life.
This country belongs to its people. They have to reclaim it. It was colonised by the foreigners for centuries and then re-colonised by the Brown Sahibs. It is our blood and toil that buys them their luxury. The middle, lower-middle and working classes of Pakistan have to come together. The peasants, labourers, destitute communities and non-literate masses cannot put up a fight, wage a struggle and embark on a sustained endeavour for bringing peace, prosperity and happiness to our cherished homeland unless the educated and enlightened middle class joins their ranks. The efforts of the middle-class professionals to associate themselves with the elite, to serve the powerful and to try to become one of them bear fruit for none. Even if some individuals move up the ladder, the majority lags behind and never succeeds in changing their class. Trying to become one of the oppressors rather than resisting them is deplorable anyway. It is time the middle classes took an informed and value-based decision to support the downtrodden in order to change Pakistan. In unison, we can resolve the fundamental questions faced by the state and society – the question of equal economic opportunities, the question of provincial autonomy and national rights, the question of democratic governance, the question of religious extremism and finally, the question of inclusion of women and non-Muslims as equals in both the affairs of the state and the dealings in our society.
I reiterate that Pakistan is as artificial or natural as any other country. It is about the state delivering for its citizens without prejudice that makes a country function. Those who see disintegration as the solution must consider that a few more oppressive states would be the outcome in the absence of movements having a class dimension to their struggle. But those at the helm of affairs must realise that both in 1947 and 1971, South Asia witnessed break-ups because the ones exercising authority refused to accept legitimate demands of a section of their populations. Therefore, today, I feel closest to the disgruntled Baloch youth. They want a change to have their rights realised, their dignity restored and for control over their local resources. At this point in time, they may not see any hope in a state which they consider an oppressor and a usurper of their rights. However, it is not patriotism and the wish to avoid widespread bloodshed alone that make me think a little differently. The designs of global imperialism warrant us a long-term view. Our chance to flourish as a people remains in creating a new social and economic order in Pakistan that saves us from playing in the hands of monopolistic capitalism and the wars it throws up from time to time.