Pakistan's gurus of corruption: the US and India
The problem of corruption by the elite or terrorism is not uniquely a Pakistani phenomenon. The US is run by a plutocracy where the rich are enlarging their share of the pie at the expense of the poor. However, the difference is that the American or Indian ruling elite are sophisticated, subtle and much more practiced and skilful in manipulating the system
Oftentimes, when I am writing my weekly column about topics in Pakistan, I feel as if I am writing an obituary or a poem about a lost battle. After one has described the degenerated patterns of Pakistan's ruling class as the root cause of the country's intractable problems and disastrous situation, one looks for cures. Naturally, one looks at the region around Pakistan or the countries that are influencing the direction the country is taking, i.e. the US and other industrialised nations.
First, let us take the US, which is assumed to be the master of Pakistani political discourse. In following the master's voice, the Pakistani elite are embodying the principles embodied by the US's rich and powerful aristocratic class. Irrespective of the methods used - Pakistanis may be crude in their plundering - the ruling class of the superpower has increased its share of the national wealth from nine percent in the early 70s to 23 percent in 2010. The income gap between the rich and poor is unprecedented and has dwarfed the third world countries, which had notoriety in this field. Therefore, for the US, the Pakistani ruling elite is its faithful follower. If the purpose of the Republican victory in the mid-term election was to give tax cuts to the rich, why would they ask Pakistan's top wealth holders to pay taxes?
Now let us take Pakistan's next door neighbour, India, which claims to be an emerging world power. A world organisation recently reported that the Indian rich and powerful have siphoned off $ 1.5 trillion abroad, which is the highest amount in the world and double the amount of the total national foreign debt. This wealth, produced by the Indian people, was appropriated by the ruling elite and illegally transferred to banks outside the country. The Pakistani ruling class could not make it to even second position because the country is so small that it cannot compete with the Indian and Chinese ruling classes' total plundering.
Just like the Pakistani ruling elite, the Indians have not missed any opportunity to use national crises - from Siachen to natural ones - for making money. State power has been used to transfer national wealth, just like in Pakistan, except that India has a much larger rentier class than Pakistan. Just look at the recent G2 scam or the Supreme Court's declaration about the Allahabad High Court in which it said, "Something is rotten about the Allahabad High Court." The Indian ruling class, unlike its counterparts in the entire world, are acting like Mughal emperors by constructing billion dollar houses: Mukesh Ambani has pioneered this trend. The emerging Indian super-rich have not even the traditional decency to remain discrete. On the contrary, they are keen to rub their wealth on the wounds of the world's largest group of poor people, with greater numbers of poor in India than all of sub-Saharan Africa.
The US or India have not presented any good example of religious tolerance, peace and harmony. Racial and religious discrimination is a widespread phenomenon in the US and other European countries. India may not have publicised sectarian and religious violence like Pakistan, but more people may have died in Indian random violence breakouts.
If one adds up the people killed on a few occasions - the Khalistan Movement, 10,000-17,000 Sikhs killed in Delhi, the Gujarat carnage, the killing of Christians, including 22 nuns, and the Mumbai riots - the total number may be much greater on a per capita basis.
India is also facing a much larger insurgency by Maoists than Pakistan's Taliban. The immediate causes of both insurgencies may be very different but, ultimately, it is the corruption of the ruling classes that has given birth to such forces. While the Taliban are limited to the areas around the Pak-Afghan border, the Maoists are controlling areas in more than half a dozen states. The only significant difference is that the Maoists do not commit violent suicide attacks on their own or other countries' citizens unlike the jihadi Taliban. But before the Soviet-Afghan war, the militants of Islamic countries from Palestine to Algeria used to fight for their national causes within their own borders. It was the US that created the concept of international jihad for the Afghan war theatre. Nonetheless, it has become Pakistan's child - rather spoilt brat - for which the country is demonised by the world.
The fact of the matter is that the problem of corruption by the elite or terrorism is not uniquely a Pakistani phenomenon. The US is run by a plutocracy where the rich are enlarging their share of the pie at the expense of the poor.