By: Fazal Mehmood
When former cricketer Imran Khan became Prime Minister in Pakistan, there was much jubilation in some Indian circles that there would be improved relations between India and Pakistan. One former Indian cricketer turned politician went so far as to ingratiate himself in public not only with Khan but also with the Pakistan Army Chief, General Bajwa. There were suggestions from the same Indian circles that Narendra Modi should similarly reach out to the Pakistan ruling establishment.
In all this, the India’s pro-Pak gang, if it may be so described, overlooked the fact that Khan was appointed Prime Minister by the army that could remove him at any time. Khan was in an unenviable position, heading a bankrupt country with turmoil not only in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, but spreading nationwide. The problem is the country has no economy, but only the army running its enterprises from agriculture to what little there is in the way of industry. It has no heavy industry, but only cotton textiles and the like. The Army has no competence to do this, but that has not prevented the military from trying its hand at everything from agriculture, sugar production and the rest, because the military looks only at the money, and not progress or economic productivity. The result is not only economic deterioration, but also degradation of the fighting quality of its armed forces. The military should at all times focus on improving its military capability. This is undermined by its involvement in politics and other non-military activities.
After all, military science is also changing with time. Warfare today is not what it was fifty years ago. Muslim armies and their leaders in Pakistan are living in an imagined past. No Muslim army has won a major war in the last two centuries, after Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire. Even the Ottoman armies were repeatedly defeated by Russians and the Austro-Hungarians. They were of course badly defeated in World War I, which ended the Ottoman Empire. Even the Greeks were on the verge of defeating the Turks and taking over their ancient capital of Constantinople (now Istanbul) but for the fortunate leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who rejected Islam, calling it an Arab superstition.
Arab chiefs were saved by the involvement of adventurers and freelance operators like Lawrence of Arabia serving British interests in the region. What saved the Middle East for Islam after the Great War (WWI) was not the military might of Muslim armies, but oil. This is still the case. Israelis and Indians have repeatedly shown that Muslim armies today are no match for modern armies. But Americans and Europeans recognize its economic value and are trying to keep the region stable by keeping its Muslim states alive, with friendly chiefs like the Sheikhs and princes of the Arab world. Islamic countries have never produced a viable economic system. Their economy has always been based on plunder, not industry.Recognizing this, Muslim rulers in India were accommodating in dealing with Hindu and Jain businesses, providing a measure of protection even while taxing them to the limit. It was the same in Ottoman Turkey which depended on the productive activities of Jews and Christians. Muslim rulers’ economy was based on plunder. Now oil has replaced plunder.
Aramco is said to be the world’s wealthiest company, but it is based largely on Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves. Its technical and management professionals come mainly from the U.S., Europe and India. Even businesses like shops and taxicabs are manned by foreigners from countries like India and Pakistan. Doctors and nurses are mainly from India, Sri Lanka and The Philippines, occasionally from Malaysia.
Even the soldiers fighting on the Saudi side in Yemen are mercenaries from Pakistan, who are not trusted either by the Saudis or their American supporters. In this, Pakistan is following its long-standing practice of parasitism. It gets some money, which ends up in the pockets of the army and does not help the people, much less produce economically productive enterprises. The people of Pakistan seem cursed by its leadership, but they have only themselves to blame, for every country gets the government it deserves. There is now a revolution of sorts, calling for the removal of Imran Khan, but it is led not by the people but the clergy. It is not too different from the Khomeini Revolution in Iran. To many Muslims, Khomeini is a hero and has a romantic appeal, like Mao for the Maoists and Lenin-Stalin for the earlier Communists. This is so even in the case of Bangladesh in which many people are willing to accept Pakistani atrocities since it is seen as a premier upholder of Islam. This is called Dhimmitude.
An atrocity ceases being an atrocity even against oneself as long as it is done in the cause of Islam. So, it is clear that this revolution by mullahs will not result in a more enlightened Pakistan. But the West will try to placate Imran Khan because it fears the alternative could be worse, with a Khomeini-like figure in control of the Pakistani mercenaries fighting for Saudi Arabia, ending up toppling the Saudi royalty just as Khomeini toppled the Shah of Iran forty years ago. That would be a nightmare for the West. We should not be surprised if Imran Khan gets nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing his role in opening the Kartarpur Corridor for the Sikhs. Indian liberals will go gaga over it but nothing will change for India or for Pakistan, with the army still in charge. It cannot afford to drop its anti-India posturing, for that is the essence of its identity. So, as far as India is concerned, nothing will change. The army and the clergy will remain in control, and terrorism will continue to be promoted. INAV