In­hi­bi­tions of the down­trod­den

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Har­ris Khalique

THE month of March is im­por­tant for us. First, the La­hore Res­o­lu­tion was passed in March 1940 and was re­alised seven years later with the birth of Pak­istan. Sec­ond, the army op­er­a­tion be­gan in East Pak­istan in March 1971, which ended in the dis­mem­ber­ment of the coun­try in De­cem­ber of the same year af­ter In­dian in­ter­ven­tion.

When my sea­soned jour­nal­ist friend and a lead­ing colum­nist of the Urdu lan­guage, Wusat­ul­lah Khan, started trans­lat­ing Gen Ayub Khan’s di­aries, I again got in­ter­ested in what hap­pened in the last years of united Pak­istan. That led me to read some new ac­counts and re-read some old ones. There is a fa­mous de­scrip­tion of Ben­galis that Ayub Khan gives in his book, ‘Friends Not Masters’, which I quote for you here.

“The peo­ple of Pak­istan con­sist of a va­ri­ety of races each with its own his­tor­i­cal back­ground and cul­ture. East Ben­galis, who con­sti­tute the bulk of the pop­u­la­tion, prob­a­bly be­long to the very orig­i­nal In­dian races. It would be no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that up to the cre­ation of Pak­istan, they had not known any real free­dom or sovereignty. They have been in turn ruled ei­ther by the caste Hin­dus, Moghuls, Pathans, or the Bri­tish.

“In ad­di­tion, they have been and still are un­der Hindu cul­tural and lin­guis­tic in­flu­ence. As such they have all the in­hi­bi­tions of down­trod­den races and have not yet found it pos­si­ble to ad­just psy­cho­log­i­cally to the re­quire­ments of a new­born free­dom. Their pop­u­lar com­plexes, ex­clu­sive­ness, sus­pi­cion and a sort of de­fen­sive ag­gres­sive­ness prob­a­bly emerge from this his­tor­i­cal back­ground.” This is what the self-pro­claimed five-star gen­eral, the field mar­shal, the first mar­tial law ad­min­is­tra­tor and pres­i­dent of Pak­istan, Mo­ham­mad Ayub Khan, said in his po­lit­i­cal au­to­bi­og­ra­phy about the ma­jor­ity of his own coun­try­men and – women – back in the 1960s. What else do you call racism? What else do you call chau­vin­ism? What else do you call ig­no­rance? What else do you call prej­u­dice?

What did Ayub mean by real free­dom or sovereignty and East Pak­ista­nis be­ing ruled for­ever by high caste Hin­dus, Moghuls, Pathans and the Bri­tish? Where else in the Sub­con­ti­nent were peas­ants and work­ers rul­ing their states or re­gions? Was there democ­racy in Ayub’s na­tive Haripur when he was born in a vil­lage in 1907 and rode on a mule’s back to go to school? What does he mean by Hindu cul­tural and lin­guis­tic in­flu­ence? Good­ness!

Nin­com­poops with no knowl­edge and no sense of his­tory have ruled this god­for­saken coun­try of ours for decades and with im­punity. As far as cul­ture is con­cerned, we are South Asians first with in­flu­ences from west and Cen­tral Asia. What­ever faith we prac­tise and rit­u­als we ob­serve add fur­ther dis­tinct­ness within the re­gional and lo­cal cul­tural tra­di­tions. All our North In­dian lan­guages in­clud­ing Ayub’s mother tongue Hindko, ex­cept Brahvi and Brushiski per­haps, are de­rived from San­skrit and Prakrits, Ironic! Hindko is the only lan­guage spo­ken in to­day’s Pak­istan which has the word ‘Hind’ in it.

Ayub had no idea at all of what Ben­galis have contributed to knowl­edge and civil­i­sa­tion in the In­dian Sub­con­ti­nent in­clud­ing the Mus­lim cul­ture of this re­gion. He was say­ing all that about East Ben­galis at a time when the great Bangla poet Kazi Nazrul Is­lam was alive and revered across East Pak­istan. How many Tagores and Nazruls did Ayub’s part of South Asia pro­duce? He men­tioned the in­hi­bi­tions of the down­trod­den Ben­galis which made it hard for them to un­der­stand the re­quire­ments of be­ing lib­er­ated. He listed those in­hi­bi­tions as pop­u­lar com­plexes, ex­clu­sive­ness, sus­pi­cion and a sort of de­fen­sive ag­gres­sive­ness. He was speak­ing about East Pak­ista­nis but they still con­tinue to prove him wrong and, un­for­tu­nately, Ayub’s own and su­pe­rior “West Pak­ista­nis” seem to es­pouse th­ese in­hi­bi­tions. He sounds so right in defin­ing a peo­ple. But th­ese peo­ple are his own – those who live in Pak­istan to­day.

To­day, be­sides dust on the Na­tional High­way, what holds us to­gether as a na­tion is cher­ish­ing our ex­clu­sive­ness, sus­pi­cion of all other coun­tries and, of course, a de­fen­sive ag­gres­sive­ness. We have cul­ti­vated an il­lu­sion of su­pe­ri­or­ity over other na­tions and peo­ples by em­pha­sis­ing our spe­cific mo­ral val­ues found nowhere else, a be­lief sys­tem which makes us a part of the great­est faith, and the past glory of Arabs and West Asians in which we have oth­er­wise lit­tle share to claim.

We sus­pect ev­ery­one of con­spir­ing against our distin­guished na­tion and coun­try to bring us down. We jump on a critic’s throat if he tells us that we mis­er­ably lag be­hind in all facets of hu­man devel­op­ment.

I find it in­ter­est­ing that a large part of the Pak­istani di­as­pora, even af­ter liv­ing in ad­vanced coun­tries for ages, think the same about the unique­ness and ex­clu­siv­ity of Pak­istan as their na­tive cousins back home. What is so spe­cial about us Pak­ista­nis? Why are we su­pe­rior to oth­ers? Ex­cept for a few in­di­vid­u­als born in this sixth largest coun­try of the world, what – as a na­tion and so­ci­ety – have we contributed to the realms of art, sci­ence, in­dus­try and tech­nol­ogy over the past 65 years that would make the rest of the peo­ple liv­ing in this world feel en­vi­ous? Which new the­o­ries have we pro­pounded in bi­ol­ogy, chem­istry and physics and which new in­ven­tions have we made to make hu­man life easy? We can’t run a rail­way in­her­ited from the colo­nial days and think that those fly­ing space shut­tles want to pull us down! Why is ev­ery­body try­ing to harm us? Why are con­spir­a­cies be­ing hatched to de­mean us? What makes us so im­por­tant that ev­ery­one is out there to bring us down to our knees? Why do we get de­fen­sively ag­gres­sive or, in many cases, plainly ag­gres­sive when some­one from within or out­side crit­i­cises our con­duct? Which pin­na­cle of hu­man civil­i­sa­tion have we reached from where the na­tions of the world are try­ing hard to bring us down?

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