CULTURAL IMPERIALISM

Six decades have passed since the independence of Pakistan.  A generation has grown up to reach middle age- a generation that never saw any traces of the colonial or the post colonial world.  However, true liberty is the liberation of the mind, thoughts and the psyche, which is still enslaved.

From the dying generation that breathed the colonial air to the globalised 20 or 30-somethings of today, none are really free to dream and to be proud in their own skin.  The English language still determines ones place in society and acts as a preservative of ossified values.

The core of America is distinguished by creativity and innovation and their can-do spirit is owed to a popular attitude of equal opportunity and fair play.  This was bequeathed by the founding father Bejamin Franklin.  Indians take pride in India thanks to Nehru’s Swadesh and Swaraj (self reliance and self rule).  Turks follow Attaturk, their founding father.  Pakistanis are lost as their founding father Jinnah lost his stature in a maelstrom of parochialism.

A Pakistan is divided into nations and within those nations into classes based on command over a foreign language.  Then it struggles with desperate poverty.  The divisions of race and the English language effectively hamper any progress that could have been hoped for.

The tiny minority that speaks English, gets educated in a western system is mentally enslaved to the hilt.  They hail Alexander as the greatest conqueror of the world.  So deeply conditioned is this mindset that the fact that he invaded their own land- when King Porus fought him- is entirely lost on them.  Napolean also rests as an enemy, a marauder in their psyche-not the least because he invaded Muslim Egypt- but because he challenged their former British masters.  Such is the system of western education which creates eager subjects of the now defunct raj.  We are unwitting and ignorant victims of intellectual and cultural imperialism of the highest degree.

The late Mustafa Akkad was iconoclastic in his attempt to make a film on Mohammad (saw).  His financier Adnan Khashoggi was a visionary Arab who was using his money to fight all forms of imperialism.  Khashoggi was painted as an arms dealer and silenced by the powers that be. But Khashoggi was one man, and one man can be silenced but a wave cannot be controlled.  We need a critical mass of self assertive revolutionaries who challenge the prevalent ideologies.

Our scientific legacy does not lie in ancient Greece and Archimedes but with Al-Khwarzimi who invented the Arabic numerals after importing zero from India.  Our bards are not Wordsworth and Shelley but Omar Khayyam and Rumi.  Our historical legends are the very real Mohammad bin Qasim, and not Achilles, a fictitious legend.  Our statesmen are not Abraham Lincoln or Churchill but Umar Farooq and Jinnah.  These and so many other names need to echo in our psyche through our own school text.  However, they find scant reference and we remain mentally enslaved as we admire foreign heroes-inadvertently despairing of our own.  Our school text needs to be re-thought to make it world-class where we can nurture the psyche of a sovereign state and not that of an enslaved mind.  We cannot shake out of our national inferiority complex till we do so.

The British created hurdles through permits and restrictions to systematically defeat the spirit of enterprise.  These systems have remained untouched since their departure.  Today the custodians of this nefarious system are the public sector employees who nurture it.  A very low rise glass ceiling is very concretely established hence for the entire business community.  Where then can we see an economic upsurge which can be an engine of growth?  No foreign expert or advisor can tell us what is good for us these are questions only we can answer just as Manmohan Singh found the answers for India.  But to find answers we must first battle parochialism and the lack of ethics.

Even the President of Pakistan gets meted third grade treatment because of our begging bowl.  If we re-think our mindsets, the resulting advantage would be economic and political muscle in place of a begging bowl.

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