What is “the establishment” is a question that has never properly been answered. But since this amorphous entity has become the favourite whipping boy of losers who blame all their failures on “the establishment”, the question demands an answer. The best way to describe “the establishment” is that it is that collection of vested interests that always ensure that the status quo isn’t disturbed either by organised revolution (unlikely in Pakistan) or maverick rulers (regular in Pakistan).
Revolution is neither in our history and nor, one is forced to deduce, in our psyche. We regularly side with one “devil” to get rid of another and call it revolution. Then we get into bed with the same old “devil” we had removed to get rid of the “devil” we were in bed with first. Again we call it revolution. And so goes our “revolutionary” syndrome, on and on and on… The maverick tries to grab a larger slice of the cake than is his due, a cake baked by the status quo for all vested interests to share “equitably”, obviously at the expense of other slice holders. Nawaz Sharif used force of numbers in parliament to try and enlarge his slice of the cake and became a maverick. He forgot who actually had given him those numbers, the people or “the establishment”, and went bonkers. The slice holders who stood to lose kept begging the army to remove him and “save” Pakistan. Sharif saved them the bother by removing himself.
Who are these vested interests that form “the establishment”? They include – though not in order of precedence but with much overlap – feudal lords, tribal chieftains, descendants of Sufi forebears whose entire “credibility” and vote bank lie in a grave, politicians, judges, lawyers, the media, the bureaucracy, academia, business… But the guiltiest player in “the establishment” is the intelligentsia, for Pakistan’s failure has been the failure of its intellectuals to enunciate an accurate description and definition of the country on which there can be consensus and which can be implemented. However, what has yet to dawn on us is that the most important player in the Pakistani establishment now has become the United States of America.
But don’t pass the buck. Don’t blame America. It has become the most important player in our establishment because we let it, starting with our inception. Every country looks after its own interest. It does what it thinks is best for it and its people. If it incidentally does any good to other countries as well, that’s collateral benefit. If it doesn’t, too bad. America has always done what it thinks is good for it. If our rulers have also always done what is good for America and not for Pakistan and its people, is it America’s fault?
Or is it our own? Nobody forced us to agree to anything that America asked. We did it of our own free will. Once you understand this the penny will drop: our rulers are always nominees or representatives of “the establishment”, never of the people despite the sham optics of democracy. If we lack common sense, why blame America? Common sense is the source of wisdom, not genius or an IQ of 210. Thus we have become habitual whiners, blaming all and sundry for anything and everything, be it predecessor governments, our own and foreign intelligence agencies, other countries…
The realisation is beginning to dawn that we have had no government since November 16. Those that pass for rulers seem to be acting according to different scripts. The question is not who has written those scripts. The question is: “Why the hell do we agree to act according to them?” It is not that other countries are not asked by America to do things that may not be in their interest. They are, all the time. America has every right to ask and by the same token they have every right to refuse – each in their own self-interest. Turkey did that after 9/11 when it refused to allow US troops access to Iraq through its soil, despite being a NATO member country dying to get into Europe! So did Germany. And France. Have they all been obliterated? All that the Americans could do in retaliation was to call French fries “Freedom fries” and make fools of themselves. When we agreed to go with America after 9/11, it was in our self-interest, but the way we have let it get into our beds after that certainly is not.
Try and push it out now and it will puncture your hot water bottle and our soft elite will add to the wetness by discharging their own cisterns. Thus it is that people without solutions have regularly blamed America for any ill and every woe, not to forget Britain, India, the CIA, MOSSAD, ISI, IB, MI, the Jews, Zionists, Hindus, terrorists, fate, you name it – and, of course, every outgoing government and ruler. But they have never asked the question begging to be asked: “Why do we let America interfere in our affairs?”
We love to quote three instances when our rulers said “no” to America and suffered. One: Ayub Khan refused to open a “second front” against China in the 1962 India-China war. Then he forged a deep friendship with China that eventually became the bridge for America to walk over into “that communist evil.” Two: Z A Bhutto refused to shed our nuclear programme even in the face of Henry Kissinger’s threat to “make a horrible example of you.” Three: Nawaz Sharif refused five Clinton demands not to test our nuclear bomb. Conclusion: America burned them. Wrong. They lost power because of their own stupidity that gets unleashed with delusions of grandeur. Who asked Ayub to get into the 1965 war without doing his homework and depending only on dubious intelligence reports and assessments? It was stupid. It weakened him no end. His subsequent illness weakened him further. The theory that then America saw the chance to engineer an urban revolt against Ayub will remain conjecture until solid proof turns up. The general was removed by his chosen general. Who asked Bhutto to rig the 1977 ballot so massively? It was stupid. There was another urban revolt.
Many believe it was also engineered by America. But where is the proof, Kissinger’s threat notwithstanding? Bhutto too lost power to his chosen general who later hanged him. Sharif’s stupidity outstripped Ayub’s and Bhutto’s by miles. He saved America the bother by committing political suicide. Who asked him to remove the chief of the army staff of Pakistan in such a clumsy and ham-handed manner and order the pilot of his aircraft to deliver him into Indian hands? America? Or was it Musharraf himself, thinking it was the best way to do a coup? Ziauddin the engineer general who was to be the new chief? If the pilot didn’t have the sense and patriotism to refuse, Sharif would end up committing treason. What makes it monumental stupidity is that he would have committed treason without realising it, for he is actually a patriotic man. I shudder to imagine what would have happened if the two colonels who arrested Nawaz Sharif had known that he had ordered their “chief” delivered to India. Did America ask him to do all this? Or was it sheer hysteria? Now he is back. America is wary of him. To them he is Ahmadinejad with the bomb. Blinded by vengeance he is again proving their point, being more intransigent than ever before. Sharif should watch it.
Let’s for a moment assume that the conspiracy theorists are right. My problem still remains: why did our patriotic politicians and the people who made the movements successful agree to become part of America’s nefarious designs? Opposition to a government is everyone’s right, but when it becomes opposition to the country by joining forces with another country, then what is it? If it is done by design, it is straight treason. If it is done unwittingly, then it is unmitigated stupidity. Oh, yes! Now I get it. America inserted stupidity cells into the brains of our politicians and those millions of people who made the two movements. As to Mr Nawaz Sharif, as I said, he saved America the bother by committing political suicide. But remember the celebrations at this removal? The gala atmosphere outside the TV station, the festivities in every town and city, the joyous firing from rooftops, the distribution of free sherbet and sweets, the media, all the political leaders – and I mean “all” of them – welcoming General Musharraf? Seven years on and many of those same people and politicians welcomed Sharif back as joyously. Has America engineered all this? Is it in our stars? Or is it in our genes that we are underlings, ready to change our “beliefs” for a B1/B2 US visa or a stint at some American think tank? I have not suddenly gone soft on America. I want no visa or think tank stink – sorry stint. I’m being harsh with my compatriots and thus on myself too. Stop shirking responsibility by blaming America for everything. Look at yourselves.
Source: The Nation, 15/6/2008