Pakistan Will Lose Again

Dr Baqar Hasnain writes in The Express Tribune: It’s a battle. No, it’s not Pakistan vs India. Never was. It’s the elite in Pakistan vs Pakistan. And in this battle, Pakistan always loses. It lost in the 2018 elections. And it will lose again in the February 2024 elections. The reason is simple. Elections in Pakistan, much like a revolving door, allow self-serving politicians to return to the corridors of power to secure and foster elite privilege for the bureaucrats, the industrialists, the corporate sector, the feudal landowners, and last but not the least, for themselves. The richest 1 per cent own 10 per cent of the national income. The richest 20 per cent own 50 per cent of the national income. The elites always win.

But what about those stunted children who live in mud-houses lacking safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene? What about those teenage boys and girls loitering along in the streets instead of going to school? What about those pregnant women in the rural areas where no clinics are set up to ensure their maternal health? What about the talented youth of Pakistan boarding airplanes to fly away from the land of their forefathers in search of employment opportunities abroad? And what about the mazdoor and the kisaan of this country who cannot even afford decent housing for their families? Do we see pictures of these suffering Pakistanis on TV or in newspapers? All we see is pictures of 2 or 3 “popular” politicians every single day and our TV anchors and pundits crossing swords over who will become the next prime minister…why is no one talking about the poor, our people, our children? The answer once again is simple. It’s not about the poor and the lower middle class. It’s about the elite and their children. The filthy rich in Pakistan, many of them contesting the upcoming elections, live in their bungalows and mansion in well-guarded sprawling housing societies like Bahria Town and DHA. They send their kids to schools and universities in USA and UK. It’s the law of conservation of power. Conservation of subsidies and privileges and tax breaks for the richest in our country. It’s about the preservation of the status quo. So, why empower the poor by providing them quality healthcare and education and employment opportunities in the technology sector when they can continue to serve the rich as their naukar and chowkidar and driver. The saab ji culture must be preserved. The colonial mindset must be preserved. The saab ji must continue to abuse the poor and the poor must bear the brunt of the abuse. It’s in our cultural DNA.

Pakistan has two classes of citizens: the oppressors and the oppressed. The 2024 elections will be no different than the 2018 elections. It will be more of the same. The elites will win. And Pakistan will lose again. As Karl Marx noted: “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2024.