By Dr. Haider Mehdi

 “He was instructed to advise people that deaths and hardships are tests.  And when people asked for reasons and proof, he was to lay down the cleric’s ultimate trump card: ‘God works in mysterious ways.’ [He] decided that if he ever heard himself use that phrase, which amounted to taking an easy way out, he would give up …A bent toothless woman, wedged against a wall and smelling of sepsis, raises a gnarled hand and asks, ‘Where is God’s mercy for the poor?’”

                                   From Dave Boling’s novel Guernica

Let us seize the moment to put an end to hunger, poverty, deprivations and human suffering in our beloved country of pious and pure people.  Let us stop taking the easy way out. Let us stop blaming God for His mysterious ways to inflict death and destruction on us. Let us give up this inhumane and destructive “friendship” with the US and its Western allies that has plunged this nation into horrifying endless violence with its dreadful horrors and consequences.

Let us get a hold of ourselves: Let us put and end to the politics of vested interests and, in a true spirit of Muslim cultural and Islamic values, get to work to serve the people.  Let us rise above petty issues of sectarian conflicts and unite in solidarity to defeat our enemies.  Let us realize that we are one people – we might speak different languages, we might look different, we might have diverse faith orientations, we might belong to different ethnicities and religious sects and yet, our fate, our destiny is common, first and foremost. 

Let us identify our enemies: let us get to know them as thoroughly as we can.  Let us comprehend their political behavior. Let us figure out how and in what ways they operate and plan to “nullify” us.  Let us understand the goals of our enemies and their strategic approach to accomplish these objectives. 

Let me blatantly state: Our number-one enemy is our own entire contemporary political leadership, its criminal apathy to the plight of this nation’s people, its dreadful political ignorance, its unmatched and unprecedented political incorrectness, its absolute disregard of our socio-cultural-religious values, its paralyzing and disgraceful obsession with self-preservation, its complete dependence on foreign patronage, its abysmal political-economic management skills, its massive corruption, its absurd and autocratic absolutism in governing tactics, its oppressive methods in handling dissidents, its disrespect for constitutional norms, its flawed national political priorities, its lack of total concern of impending chaos and the political abyss that is about to abrade the face of this nation.  Our ruling elite is a shameless and a humiliating sham. 

Let us understand this clearly: No amount of US-West patronage of our ruling junta, their so-called friendship with the Pakistani people, their conditionally concealed flow of dollar aid, IMF loans, Asian Development Bank’s project financing, military aid and massive rhetorical media blitz for secularization can offer life-saving resolutions to the Pakistani problematics.   The truth is that neither the aid packages, nor the IMF bailouts nor the American influx of dollars will radically change the nature of the present politically misshapened structure of politics and resultant ground realities in Pakistan. The poor will still be poor, the hungry will still be hungry.  “Growing inequality combined with a flawed, economic and political system has been turning Pakistan into a travesty of Justice,” wrote an eminent political analyst recently.

The fact is that the American-West alliance with successive Pakistani military-civilian regimes has been counter-productive to the interests of the Pakistani people.  It is so because this entire edifice of Pak-US-West political discourse and engagement has always been based on a flawed conceptual and ideological premise (read it as US-West expansion of capitalist culture and imperialism) and has only resulted in consolidating backward, regressive and corrupt regimes in Pakistan.  This entire structure of politically contaminated, perverted, and bribed political culture has to be totally dismantled before national reconstruction based on self-reliance and national dignity can begin.  We will have to obliterate this repressive, outdated, internal political system and its intrinsically-linked tentacles to the US-West’s decades-old alliance.

This is the moment to seize such an initiative: Already throughout the Muslim world, there are fresh, strong, courageous, politically-determined and precisely focused civil society movements managing change and transformation of regimes in several countries.  There is a heroically provoked vitality to these movements alluding to a massively increased political awareness of the common people and their demonstrated will to force political change.  “There was a magical quality to Tunisia’s uprising, which transcended religious and political divides and united a population – young and old, educated and not – resentful of years of unemployment, hopelessness and oppression…Bin Ali’s fate is evidence of the dangers that…rulers face by clinging to hollow ideologies and losing touch with the aspirations of their citizens,” wrote Jeffrey Fleishman and Amro Hassan in the Los Angeles Times. Echoing the same feeling regarding Hosni Mubarak’s pro-US/West regime in Egypt, Ayman Noor, former opposition candidate in the 2005 Egyptian election, said, “I do not think that we need nation-wide protests to reach the same results as in Tunisia.  We only need demonstrations to erupt in a few main cities like they did in the 1919 revolution against the British.”  Such is the eruption of sentiment against the Western-supported regime in Egypt.

There is also a growing pervasive feeling throughout Muslim nations that the support of the indigenous ruling elite in selective countries by the US-West works and is strategically managed against the interests of their own citizens.  “Civil society groups say that governments friendly towards the United States and Western European nations are some of the most dogged opponents of democracy, repressing peaceful Islamist groups which seek power through democratic elections,” reported Reuters.  Francis Ghiles, Senior Research Fellow at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, contends that “The mantra of the battle against Islamist terrorism has meant that, even more than we used to, we have closed our eyes in the last ten years to what these rulers are up to.” 

Widespread disenchantment with the US-West’s counterproductive global engagement with Muslim nations is being echoed in every Islamic country – it has taken the proportion of a household sentiment with the exception of those people who are directly benefitting from the West’s political and financial favors.  “Enemies of Arabs [and Muslims] want to destroy human values of our civilization and replace them with Western values based on war, oppression, assassination and torture by taking advantage of [our] weaknesses,” opined Bouthaina Shaaban, Political and Media Advisor to the President of Syria. 

Indeed, we, in Pakistan, are completely familiar with war, oppression, assassination, torture, missing persons, NROs, drone attacks, poverty, hunger, deprivations and human suffering – courtesy of our ruling elite, covertly and overtly supported by our “friends” in the US and West. As the charismatic, progressive and dynamic Turkish Prime Minister said recently, “We do not need a third party to reform and improve our ties …we must stand together…by joining forces, we can overcome all our problems.” 

Seize the moment – join contemporary civil society movements in Muslim nations against hunger, unemployment, oppression, and death squads!!

Save your civilization!! Rise!! Mobilize!! Take charge of your destiny.

 The writer: professor, political analyst, published author and conflict-resolution expert