Dangerous and a vulnerable country – 27 Apr 2023

Many overseas Pakistanis for decades have been willing to return home after spending years abroad

Pakistan is an extreme country in many aspects. It contributes the largest number of troops to the UN peacekeeping mission, yet, it has been a peace starved nation for much of its entire existence. The people here were extremely critical and judgemental when the lead actress in the Turkish drama Ertugrul posted her pictures on a beach, yet, the same people search so much porn online that it earned that shameful distinction for their country. Pakistan is also home to a large population that reads and memorises a book they do not understand. What is that single book in the world that millions of people read without understanding? It is the Holy Quran.

Many overseas Pakistanis for decades have been willing to return home after spending years abroad. They look at Pakistan from a distance and yearn to raise their children in their own culture. That may be changing. Now, they look at Pakistan from that distance and shudder at the thought of raising their children in a country where they would have no freedom to express their thoughts, where their fate would be at the mercy of some of the most corrupt institutions in the world, where they would have no justice, where even the simplest things can only happen by indulging in some sort of unfair means, and where their kids can easily lose whatever hard earned money they were able to save while working abroad.

The most interesting reflection of what is happening in Pakistan can be seen internationally, especially in American politics. Someone once said that America is very dangerous as an enemy but rather even more fatal as an ally. During Imran Khan’s government, every little hurdle in the practice of free journalism became a big noise in the western media. The mainstream newspapers in the United States and Europe made sure to give voice to little issues. In today’s Pakistan, free journalism is only reserved for those who are free of any morality to speak the truth, courts do not have the power to give justice based on merit, democracy cannot flourish because it doesn’t suit the powers that be. Yet, the Biden administration has not expressed a single serious concern for any of these issues in Pakistan right now.

And that reminds of the pattern that has existed globally for decades. When Uncle Sam dislikes a regime in any country, every little issue of dissidence is viewed under a microscope and inflated to become a major global issue. When the regime in question is an American favourite doing American favourite things, then Washington looks the other way when that regime indulges in some of the most heinous atrocities such as killing journalists, attempting to assassinate the most popular leaders, recording phone conversations of public representatives, making nude videos of people to tame them should they ever show their teeth, and so forth. It is the silence that is more dangerous than the noise that was made because while the noise allowed every actor in this game the ability to raise their voice, the silence convinces us that we are on our own.

Most disturbingly, the powers that be in the country have treated their own people as enemies of the state. In return, the people do not see India as their enemy anymore. That is a big shift and a big loss for the country. Pakistan currently is a very dangerous country, not because there is no free speech or justice here but because people treat with suspicion any announcements that have to deal with defending Pakistan against Indian actions. People know full well that attempts to make people ignore every disturbing reality of their citizenship by rallying around the flag would be the smartest move by the power centre right now. And this is where it can get tricky because India can exploit this lack of trust. If anything happens against the security interests of Pakistan, you can rely on Washington to remain silent.

Read more