Nothing that a miracle can’t cure
anyway, regardless of who was in charge. It’s difficult to believe that dirt roads would not have been asphalted, and hospitals, schools and new industries not emerged had the British stayed on or Pakistan not been created.
And if we subtract all the development projects that were plain mistakes – or decided on entirely for political reasons rather than practical results – and the money that was pocketed by dishonest contractors et al, don’t the results seem out of proportion to the fuss we make of our progress since Independence? In fact, our flashy and amateurish leaders have little to be proud of. If they succeeded in anything, it was to deceive the people and feather their own nests during the course of which they lost half the country.
When a state is unable to provide at least the promise - forget the achievement - of such things as rule of law; superior social welfare through redistribution of wealth via collecting a lot of taxes; employment and wages, etc, then people fall back for security and survival on the kinship network – all rules bent for insiders.
Because the kinship network is based on a dog-eat-dog system, the assumption is that the state, which is viewed as an extension of the kinship network, acts in the same way. Hence our suspicion of the motives behind much of what the state does – regrettably all too often justified by the self-serving behind the actions. Try overhearing conversations in swanky restaurants or in the drawing rooms of the wealthy. When the talk concerns politicians they blandly accuse them of all sorts of crimes, nepotism, cowardice, treason, the plundering of public funds, etc. Why was a certain man appointed to a post? The last explanation accepted is that he may be competent to fill the post. The first is that he is somebody’s brother- or son-in-law or a member of the same tribe, party, sect or whatever. Nobody is ever considered virtuous, generous, pure or spiritual. Fakhru Bhai was the exception, but not for long.
Following the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, for instance, we tried hard to find a suitable answer to why the Americans were being so generous with their assistance considering how much they are hated. When no plausible answer came to mind we concluded that Washington must have its reasons and whatever they were they must have been serving its interests and hence there was no reason for us to feel grateful. This constant suspicion of the honourable, the chivalrous, the noble; this certainty that all things are done for private reasons rather than public welfare and for the worst of all motives and will somehow end up badly, has probably been cultivated to get us through life without confronting nasty surprises. It’s a mental precaution we have developed in order to get through life unscathed.
It was said about another people, but could as easily apply to our elite, that