Confusion in the Republic of Konfuzistan

There is strategic confusion and there is tactical muddle.  We don’t know what it is that we want and we don’t know how to get there.  Yet we seem to be sure what everyone else wants from us and from those we call our brothers.

(Daily Times, 16 May 2011)

Pakistanis are confused like no other nation on earth.  Christina Lamb had remarked many years ago in her book “Waiting for Allah” that Pakistan is a country searching for a nation.  It is not only struggling to find its raison d’etre and its purpose, it is even grappling with the issue of its geographical location – South Asia or Middle East.

There is strategic confusion and there is tactical muddle.  We don’t know what it is that we want and we don’t know how to get there.  Yet we seem to be sure what everyone else wants from us and from those we call our brothers.

It is an article of faith with Pakistanis that the US, India and Israel are conspiring to destroy Pakistan’s “nuclear assets”.  Few doubt that the US invaded Iraq for its oil and now the West wants Libya’s oil too.  Many believe that Washington overthrew the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to prevent the establishment of a model Islamic state, which would have been the envy of the world. 

The world is against us twice over, first as Muslims and then as Pakistanis!  Our only true friends are the Chinese Communists, whose avowed atheism does not bother us in the least.  Even our adoration for Saudi Arabia as the birthplace of Islam and home to Mecca and Medina is somewhat tempered by disgust at the Saudi regime’s close alliance with America.

There is a near consensus in Pakistan that the American claim to have killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on 2 May 2011 is a total lie.  There are three schools of thought regarding the Al Qaeda chief:

(i) Osama is still alive; (ii) He died long ago, only god knows where, when and how; (iii) He was killed by the Americans sometime ago “somewhere” and they were not making it known (and preserving his body) to justify the continuing occupation of Afghanistan and drone attacks in Pakistan. 

The Americans claim to have killed Osama now in order to (a) help Obama win his re-election; (b) obtain a justification for an honourable exit from Afghanistan; and (c) create the pretext to strike at Pakistan’s “nuclear assets”.  It gets a bit confusing that Washington has not produced his dead body or even pictures of it!

The Abbottabad raid itself and the “false” accusations against Pakistan for hiding America’s “enemy number one” confirm that it was a test run for an attack on Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons facility at Kahuta!  Next target Kahuta, followed by Beijing.  For China is not only Pakistan’s only reliable friend, but an emerging superpower which, if allowed to progress in peace, could soon overtake the United States in economic and military power.  Those Americans will stop at nothing, so goes the lament.

Overtaken by such paranoia, Pakistanis are convinced that the West is plotting to make a “failed state” out of Pakistan, which its hard-working and God-fearing citizens could turn into a prosperous and strong country and the envy of the world.  

Our towering Qaraqorum (Karakorum mountains), delicious “Chaunsa” mangoes and juicy “Kinoo” oranges, our nuclear “bums” (bombs) and “bahadur afwaaj” (valiant armed forces), and, oh, Wadi-e-Swat – the “Switzerland of the East” – what a beautiful and powerful country together they would make, but for the “sazeeshain” (conspiracies) of our enemies, Amreeki, Bharti (Indian) and Yahudi!

It is true that Pakistan could be a great country, for it has great natural assets, not the least being its hard-working and enterprising people.  But having missed nearly every opportunity to progress, having shot themselves in the foot at every step and squandered massive quantities of aid, they have created a make-believe world far removed from reality.  Here, blaming others and manufacturing conspiracy theories passes for serious discussion and analysis not only in buses, trains and teashops, but also on television channels and college classrooms. 

In truth, however, rather than conspiring to make Pakistan a “failed state”, the West in general and the US in particular are doing everything to prevent it from failing, for the consequences of its collapse will be dire for the region and the world.  The US alone has provided $20 billion to Pakistan since 9/11. 

Cumulatively and historically, Pakistan might well have become the second largest recipient of foreign aid per capita in the world (after Israel).  Foreign aid has made many Pakistanis rich beyond belief and also supported one of the largest military establishments in the world, neither of which was the goal of the donor countries.

Pakistani civil and military leaders, TV anchors and legions of political analysts like to repeat ad nauseam that 35,000 Pakistanis have been killed since 9/11 fighting “America’s war on terror”.  In truth, however, the vast majority of them have died as a consequence of religious and sectarian warfare between Sunnis and Shias, and, amongst Sunnis, between Salafis (Deobandis and Wahabis) and Barelvis (Ahle Sunnat). 

Then there have been the occasional pogroms against Christians and Ahmadis.  In an ironical twist of history, Hindus probably now feel safer than any other religious group in Pakistan.

Every Pakistani will agree that the enforcement of Sharia is their ultimate desire.  But they can’t tell you what they mean by Sharia and which Sharia-based state model they would choose from those on offer, namely, Saudi, Afghani (Taliban) and Iranian. 

It is safe to say that 70 per cent of the population, and a much higher proportion in the big cities, will reject all the above models and support a government based on a liberal, democratic system with adult franchise and an elected parliament.  As long as the government tackles corruption vigorously and provides jobs for them, education for their children and security for all, they won’t mind if it only pays lip service to Sharia.

We hear Pakistanis blaming “jaheel maulvis” (ignorant clerics) for our confusion, yet they not only flock behind those maulvis on a daily basis but also consult them on matters spiritual and temporal.  Enlightened scholars of Islam like Javed Ghamdi have few takers and have to flee the country. 

We see our countrymen denounce “corrupt politicians” for destroying the country, yet they cast their votes for them in one election after another.  Honest politicians attract few votes.

Verily, we live in a state of confusion in the Republic of Konfuzistan!

By Razi Azmi


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1 Response to Confusion in the Republic of Konfuzistan

  1. PK says:

    Razi: as once-insider and sharp interpreter, you are right in labelling the country politely as Konfuzistan. But responsible insiders and outsiders are iworried if things go wrong in Konfuzistan. A politically unstable and less than peaceful country , Pakistan may turn out to be dangerous to itself and also the entire region. Then, there will soon outsiders fishing in the troubled waters. Let us hope it won’t turn out to be that way.

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