As an ordinary Pakistani, my heart bleeds and it hurts. It’s not because there’s inflation and rising prices on a daily basis (although a fast approaching economic collapse is also a serious concern). On the contrary, I feel violated as a free human being. Fundamental human rights include your right to independence, right to self-determination, right to respect, right to freedom of expression, right to information, right to equal opportunity and right to demonstrate peacefully. As an educated person, I could already sense the deep-rooted hypocrisy and double standards in almost every department and sphere of life. The police favored the rich and punished the poor. Our judiciary being ranked so low internationally in delivering justice, past establishment interference in political processes, our political leaders being mostly corrupt, divisions in the education sector, double standards of the health system to such an extent that even in our daily lives, the parameter of social inclusion is very questionable. However, there was still an illusion of some degree of self-control. Over the past few weeks, Pakistan has faced an unprecedented violation of all these rights. This is why my heart is bleeding and for the first time in my life I feel a degree of helplessness like never before.
It is unfortunate that it is routine in Pakistan not to let any elected government complete its term. Overall, we are at the top of the list with the maximum number of extended martial laws. The political process never had a chance to mature. If a government is incapable, completing the term would be like facing political death. Politicians would know the consequences and deliver results accordingly. Moreover, if a government is capable, policies take time to produce results. In either case, a government would have to complete its terms. But it is an ideal scenario that requires that all pillars of governance remain well within their constitutional bounds and also that justice prevails.
In the fight of the giants, the Pakistani people, who are in reality Pakistan and who have a constitution to guide them, lose the race.
Unfortunately for Pakistan, a “mafia” culture has emerged. Since justice does not prevail, being above the law is common practice. A politician, if his party is in power, can break any law, commit any looting, kill people and rape as many women. If he is stopped on a road for an infraction, he can run over the police officer and kill the poor guy, but will not be punished. The media is a weapon of mass distortion – building and breaking narratives in any direction they want. Lawyers form gangs and even beat judges they disagree with. Sometimes innocent prisoners don’t get justice even after they die, but the justice system is busy taking suo-moto notice of unconcerned matters. He is protected by the power of contempt of court. The establishment is considered to be involved in activities beyond its functions, be it drought management, flood management, emergency management during other disasters, political decision-making internal or even non-military international decisions. While there is deep respect for their extraordinary help to the nation, there are still strong repercussions from their every move, internal or external. Bureaucracy is another demigod in Pakistan. The untouchables and the powerful. Those who actually run the country are never seen on screen. Parliament, judiciary, army, bureaucracy and media are the five main pillars of Pakistan. There is always a debate among ordinary people about who among them has the most power. Some believe that the judiciary comes first. Others say the military comes first, while others point to the media, bureaucracy or parliament. My question is: when will Pakistan come first? In the fight of the giants, the Pakistani people, who are in reality Pakistan and who have a constitution to guide them, lose the race. All my life I have respected my institutions and expected the best from them. Alas, my hopes have been dashed several times. So much so that it started to become a very rare and pleasant surprise to see an ordinary Pakistani being treated with respect and dignity.
In almost four years of Imran Khan’s PM-ship, I have, for once, felt respected, heard, safe and meaningful. Despite corona and rising prices, I was happy because I felt he represented me and my thoughts. Someone was there in those upper lobbies who understood me and other commoners like me. Someone who represented my feelings as a Muslim; who could finish more than two complete sentences in English without stuttering; who cared more about Pakistan and the Pakistani people than his own family. He fought for the economic betterment of my people. He was trying to reclaim our economic sovereignty slowly and steadily.
Imran Khan was not perfect. There were many policies over which there could be arguments and debates. There were still opportunistic politicians on his team that we were fed up with. But Khan spoke out in favor of humanity, international parity of human rights and self-respect and against vilifying any particular religion as terrorist, especially Islam. He took it upon himself to explain to the Western world what Islam really is. From the time I had begun to develop an understanding of the international power scenario, it was very difficult for me to see my country being treated as a third-degree global citizen. For all these years our so-called leaders representing us in international forums have been unable to say two sentences correctly, even with written documents to back it up, for a few minutes the speeches have been just lip service. air on ordinary matters and no mention of genuine heartfelt concerns, there seemed to be no connection between their words and our emotions. I felt so humbled to see their submissive body language and listen to their pleading words, seeking pleasure from their masters. As a citizen of an independent country, throughout my youth I felt like an economic slave to donors. The only discussion we could hear was who to please to get more aid and grants and what not to say and do to save us from anger. Therefore, I was so proud to be a Pakistani under the leadership of a person who had the courage to let me live with dignity, to be able to hear someone say what was in the hearts of millions of Pakistanis, those who could only wish someone will represent them and not their own selfish wimps. My question is what was wrong for a ruler to demand respect, dignity, honor and equality for his people?
Not only Imran Khan focused on redefining Pakistani relations internationally with other countries, including America and India, on the basis of an independent foreign policy. He also revived the concept of one Islam and one Ummah. He stood up for his love of the Prophet (PBUH) and Allah. There was no attitude of apology involved. His strength of character was very evident when he denounced their atrocities to the international community, which ended in a flashback. He was able to highlight the future consequences of their thoughtless actions and their blind gaze on human rights violations against Muslims around the world. For those asking what was the result? Allow me to highlight the double production of Imran Khan
First, it opened the eyes of the West who thought they could buy or bully people into keeping quiet. Second, it created a snowball effect of reactions from around the world showing the world that not only Muslims but people of all religions, races, colors and creeds agreed with him. The world is tired of a few elites ruling the world, twisting and turning events in their favor willy-nilly.
I, as an ordinary Pakistani, demand my basic human rights. I want our institutions to know that they are not bigger than Pakistan. Nobody should be the sacred cow. No one should be above the law. No one should cross the line and go beyond their constitutional jurisdiction. If peaceful public protests are ignored, the results could be catastrophic. Helplessness leads to anger and hatred. It leads to destruction. The only loser in this scenario (long awaited by our enemies) would be our dear Pakistan.
The author holds a PhD in Economics and is an assistant professor at GSCWU, Bahawalpur.