Photo by BvdL By Fareeha Qayoom
I am speechless. There are no words that can adequately describe my frustration, my anger, my helplessness, my indignation, and my sense of shame. Ignorance is indeed bliss. While we lose ourselves in the mindless on-going soap opera of ‘Overseas Contingency operation,’ (previously, ‘war on terror’), we may lose more than our territory, more than our self respect, more than our people, more than our food, more than our water, more than the air we breathe, more than our livelihood, more than our nuclear arsenal, more than our lifestyles, more than our lives, much more than we realize – we could end up losing our country too. Bit by bit, piece by piece, brick by brick, one inch at a time…and not at our enemies hands, but at our own because we elect ignorant, ill-informed, inadequate leaders who don’t even have the basic negotiation skills to adequately fight our corner…we (Pakistanis) have become brain-washed sheep-like humans who can’t hold two independent or original thoughts together without someone in the west tripping over and telling us, “Oh no, this is not original, we already thought of this first and therefore, you owe us money for using our intellectual property!”
Exploitation is the name of this particular game and it’s called ‘free-market economy,’ or ‘free trade’ or ‘capitalism,’ or ‘monopoly.’ ‘Making-profits-now’ is the only objective of this game. So what if you are killing the whales, or razing the ‘rain forests,’ or tearing down the ‘ozone layer’ or forcing rare ‘flora and fauna’ into extinction, or spreading poverty or taking away people’s livelihood, that’s okay as long as it’s profitable now, building a sustainable and green economy costs more and results take centuries, who can wait centuries? (What about our kids? Oh! They can colonize the moon, mars or distant galaxies…aren’t the Americans, Russians, Indians and Chinese building spaceships precisely for that? Your kids will be able to hitch a ride to a distant star provided they have cash!) Very soon, the secular nations may vote to make cannibalism legal as well and we probably will sign on the dotted line…thinking it’s going to create jobs and bring prosperity! I was reading up the other day that for the third world to import the western lifestyle, we may need four more planets like earth to adequately provide for everyone! “The developed 25 percent of the human population uses 70 percent of the resources (Goldemberg, 1995). By the age of eight, the average Canadian child consumes sixteen times more resources than the average person in a developing country will consume in a lifetime (WRI, 1999). This shows great social inequality. But equality is not possible. Even in the short term, it would require four planets to support all humans to western standards (WRI, 1999),” according to research by Stu Crawford.
The past one century has been the century of destruction, not only in terms of wars, poverty and famine but in terms of lifestyles, values and morality. Slavery may have been officially abolished but it doesn’t mean it’s gone. What about intellectual slavery? Who says it’s okay to agree to all exploitive conditions proposed by the developed world, (WTO, TRIM and TRIP, IMF, WB and ADB) for the third world? Is it already built-in our psyche that we are an inferior nation and therefore, we have to do whatever our superiors tell us to do? Globalization, free trade market economy and trade liberalization, removal of trade barriers, De-regulation, privatization, tariffs revision and removal of subsidies and opening up of third world markets for the developed world is the part and parcel of WTO, since we are signatory, we have to do what we are told.
Maybe we deserve it. A nation that can’t adequately protect its turf should lose it; when we don’t realize our good fortune, taking it for granted, its divine justice that it should be taken away from us. So what if our president signed away the right of way through Pakistan to India, (it’s apparently our job to facilitate trade between India and Afghanistan and comes under the category of ‘do more’!) so what if we are ready to sell six million acres of farmland to foreign corporations that could be cultivated by our local farmers, feudal lords and local agri-business corporations, or even co-operatives formed by small subsistence farmers – we are at least making short term profits by getting rid of all that barren land; its mechanized farming at its best, Patented seeds, pesticides and insecticide galore that would damage our eco-system and produce taken away to feed the rich hordes in the middle east and the west; its money in the bank and may earn some interest for our government in some foreign bank. Obviously, it will not be spent on infra-structure development, or promoting self-sufficiency or creating employment. We might lose our bargaining chip if we do that. Doesn’t the west need all that cheap labor, natural resources and greedy consumers hungry for western products and services? Since it’s not in their interests, we have to do what we are told.
”Kujh unj we raawan aukhian sann; kujh gall icch gham da tauq ve see, kujh shehr dey louk ve zalim sann; kujh sanoun marran da shouq ve see.” (Translation: No doubt, the trails were hard; and we were stricken with the noose of grief around our necks too; the citizens (of this town) were cruel too; and yes, we were a little bit suicidal too!”) By Munir Naizi
“The great are only great because we are on our knees. Let us rise!” Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
This article was originally published in the print edition of Valuemag, July 2009, issue 12.