Cannons boomed a dawn salute and thousands of Pakistan’s olive-green and white flags were raised across the country to mark its 60th anniversary of independence from British rule. People hardly realise that they were in fact celebrating their 60th year of volunteered slavery under de facto colonization since the British strategic withdrawal in 1947.
Dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf and minion Shaukat Aziz, in speeches and appearances celebrating the milestone, praised Pakistan’s emergence as a Muslim nation with an important international role, but warned its people they must not succumb to extremism in response to their policies.
They renewed vows not to let any nation publicly violate Pakistan’s sovereignty – doesn’t matter if they do so without announcing it as they have been doing since October 7, 2001 war on Afghanistan.
Every Pakistani must realise that they are slaves of the slaves.
Of course this is not what a Pakistani would like to hear as they wrap the green flag around themselves and fly it high on their cars and homes, but it is the unpleasant truth that we all face going into the next year of our chequered existence under indirect occupation – de facto colonization, which has been more fruitful for the modern day colonialists than the past.
We are not bound by chains and beaten with whips, yet that hardly matters. Slaves remain slaves irrespective of the more or less cruel treatment they receive from their masters of the chosen slaves of their masters.
Setting aside the stereotyped image of a slave as a bleeding chain-bound wretch, slaves like Pakistanis, are often hard to recognize. It has been like this throughout history. In some cases, such as the Medieval Serfs, they were held slaves to the rulers by religious belief. They did not see themselves as slaves even though they were treated as such. The favored slaves of Asian potentates wore jewels to make a movie star gasp, yet were still slaves for all their finery and comfort.
So, what is a slave? What makes them different from free people?
To see if Pakistanis or their rulers and so-called leaders are slaves, judge everyone with a simple criteria:
- Free people can say “no.” Slaves cannot.
- Free people can refuse demands for their money, time, children and life. Slaves cannot.
- There is no freedom without the freedom to say “no.”
- If someone demands that you do something and you can say “no” and refuse to do it, then you are a free human being.
- If you can be forced to do something or surrender something against your will, you are a slave. No other test need be applied.
When you do not have a say over more than half of the resources of your country that go into black budget for feeding the most powerful sector of your country –” the armed forces – then you are a slave.
In Pakistan, the tax collection system is not very effective. However, people have no control, whatsoever, over the resources the government generate from the wretched masses or in their name from the outside world. Throughout history, slaves have been expected to perform the work needed for their own upkeep, then perform additional work for the rulers. In Pakistan, there is not social support system; no public health coverage; no welfare support. If you are sick and dying and cannot afford treatment, there is no alternative other than rot in your bed and die. If you cannot afford a house, beg and live on streets. At the same time, your little income may not qualify for the income tax, but you pay the government through covert taxes, covert fees, tariffs, excises. In the end we find that Pakistani masses are at more than “half-for-self” versus “half-for-rulers” ratio! Can you say “no” to the confiscation of more than half of your life? Can you even get the masters to maybe reduce the burden by a significant amount? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.
The puppets that rule you have decided to join the wars of their masters on anyone living demanding freedom and the right to self-detrmination. The idea is that it is better for American corporations and colonialists to keep the weak colonised so that they could steal their wealth and resources than to pay for it. Millions of Pakistanis and millions more around the globe, did not want the wars, but the masters started them anyway, by lying to the people. Our puppet leaders joined them in the butchery of their own people. Could you refuse the war? Can you refuse being lied to? Could you do anything to the people they sold to America? Could you save others from illegal detentions in the ISI detention centers? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.
Our puppet rulers want your children for the future wars of the their masters in London and Washington. Instead of dying for Pakistan in the cause of Allah, they are dying for the cause of America. Can you challenge the generals? Can you stop your children from killing other innocent Pakistanis? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.
The military regime has been caught lying over and over again to the people, from accepting responsibility for the US bombing of our civilians to removing uniform, to its role in the war on terror to the mystery of disappeared people. For eight years we were told Benazir was corrupt. Now she has been exonerated as if all the cases were false. Were we lied to then, or we are being deceived now? The regime lied that there were foreign militants in Lal Masjid and therefore the massacre of hundreds of Pakistanis with them was justified? Can you refuse to be lied to? Can you punish the liars? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.
Human rights abuse is rampant in the country. Your loved one disappeared and you don’t even know where did they go. You protest against the high handedness of the government agencies and you are harassed and publicly humiliated. Can you stop it? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.
Just because you cannot see the slave-chains doesn’t mean they are not there. Chains made of steel are obvious, but chains made of beliefs are not always recognized for what they are. Hitler enslaved the German people to war with a belief that Poland was about to invade. Musharraf enslaved the American people to the war on Afghanistan war with the belief that he has seen the evidence of Osama’s involvement in 9/11 and he can be tried in a court of law, whereas the FBI still says it doesn’t have any concrete evidence to indict Osama for 9/11. Poland wasn’t invading. There were no torpedoes in the Gulf of Tonkin, but the slaves, held by invisible chains of beliefs, went to war. Millions died.
Under Musharraf regimes, however, the chains started to become visible. The Constitutional right to freedom of expression was confined. Newspapers have to exercise self-censorship. A slave may have an opinion, but it cannot find space in the “mainstream” press and TV where it might upset the other slaves.
Other basic human rights and protections have been set aside. The government can now search through your private records without cause and without warrant, even break into your home and not have to tell you. The same government was the only supporter of the Taliban up until October 7, 2001. Now, simply by declaring a citizen a Talib, or a Taliban sympathiser, the government can now lock up Pakistani citizens without a charge and without a lawyer, without a trial in undisclosed locations for as long as it wants.
The government sold your kids to feed modern day torture camps of its masters. It has borrowed billions of dollars, mismanaged and embezzled it, and stuck your coming generations with the payments of interest and the actual loan. Children not even born will be paying off the debt. To declare the lives of children not yet born, let alone old enough to vote, indentured to the satellite state at the mercy of its colonial masters is slavery most obvious and odious. Can you refuse responsibility for payments on debts the government incurred without your permission? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.
Zakat funds under government control are being looted. Public land is being given out to the military generals in gifts and rewards. One hundred and eleven Army men got 400 plots in Bahawalpur and Rahimyar Khan districts at throwaway prices, paying Rs. 47.50 per kanal (1/8th of a acre) as against the actual price of Rs15,000 to Rs20,000 (1US$=Rs. 56). Another 35,000 kanals were distributed among them.
Six respondents got 400 kanals in the Punjab while former NAB chairman Lt. Gen Mohammad Amjad was allotted a two-kanal plot on the Sarwar Road in Lahore for just Rs. 800,000 – payable in installments over 20 years. The market value of this plot was Rs. 20 million.
Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak (retired) received Rs180 million as kickbacks in the purchase of 40 old Mirage fighters. Air Chief Marshal, Farooq Feroz Khan was suspected of receiving a five per cent commission on the purchase of 40 F-7 planes worth $271 million. In 1996, the Army bought 1,047 GS-90s jeeps, at a cost of $20,889 per unit. The market value of a jeep then was only $13,000. According to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistan’s main accountability organization, some senior Army officers made Rs. 510 million in the deal.
General Pervez Musharraf acquired a commercial plot worth Rs 20 million at DHA in Lahore for just Rs. 100,000, payable in 20 years. "As mentioned in the report of defense services director-general, a loss of Rs 5 billion was incurred due to such allotments."
The Army awarded a contract for the purchase of 1,000 Hino trucks at $40,000 per unit while the local Gandhara Industries had offered trucks of the same specification for $25,000 a piece. In the purchase of 3,000 Land Rover jeeps in 1995, Army officials allegedly received around Rs. 2 billion as kickbacks.
The Army management at WAPDA raised the power tariff 13 times during the last three years besides purchasing electric meters at Rs. 1,050 a piece against the open market price of Rs. 456, causing a loss of Rs 1.65 billion to the national exchequer.
A former military regime sold the Pak-Saudi Fertilizers for Rs. 7 billion and earned a Rs 2 billion commission on the deal.
In 1996, the Pakistan Navy spent Rs. 13 million on installing air-conditioners at the Islamabad Golf Club without any justification.
Some other major scams involving serving or ex members of the military junta are as follows:
- Ex Army chief General Jahangir Karamat took kickbacks of more than US$ 20 Million from Ukrainian tank company for purchase of 300 Ukrainian tanks for Pakistan Army through a middleman named as Colonel Mahmood , a brother tank corps officer of Karamat . Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sent the present chief of the WAPDA Major General Zulfiqar, then serving in ISI, to Ukraine and Azerbaijan to investigate the scam.
- General Zulfiqar compiled a complete report of the transaction and the bribes given. But the Army tried to buy him out by rewarding him with the post of WAPDA Chairman and promoting him to the rank of a three star General. The then Army Chief, General Jahangir Karamat was forced to resign, based on the threat that if he did not, he would be charged for corruption.
- Many road contracts were given to a firm Hasnain Construction company without any public tenders by the recently removed Railways and Communication minister General Qazi. The company, owned by a relative of General Pervez Musharraf’s son, was also awarded the lease of a lucrative real estate in Lahore for construction of a Golf Course under frontmanship of Palm Country Golf Club, Singapore. The relative of General Musharraf admitted publicly that he was working for a commission to use his contacts and influence for the company.
- Prime commercial land developed in Defence Housing Authority Karachi was leased at dirt heap rates to McDonalds operated by Amin Lakhani by the then Corps Commander, Karachi Lt. General Afzal Janjua.
- The Army’s coercive organ NAB struck various under the table deals with various individuals accused of high profile economic crimes in addition to arm twisting NAB defaulters, into joining the present government. These include the present Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali and at least one fourth of all elected legislators.
Are you able to refuse corrupt and dishonest military and civilian governments that are imposed on you with the help from outside? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.
You are a slave because the military and political feudal lords and the ruling class can do what they want, take what they want, and you cannot refuse. You may have freedom to decide what TV channel to watch tonight, or just which food to cook today, but little power over the rest of your life. Can you do anything about it? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.
Our schools are broke, hospitals under-staffed, the roads and bridges and rails of the nation are crumbling while millions are going to the pockets of the few which makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. Millions are given away to supporters of the regime, the collaborators and spies. The priorities of the government are not the priorities of the nation but the priorities of its masters in Washington and London. On the fourteenth of August 2007, Musharraf said our biggest problem is extremism. Go the street and ask him who he thinks is the extremist.
I think the state of the nation can be summed up by a simple contrast. Petty thieves are in jail, while Benazir is preparing to become prime minister for the third time with the billions he stole from the nation.
Our forefather had a dream. They wanted an independent Islamic State, where they would be able to exercise their right to self-determination and self-rule. We are left with feudal lords and military dictators to rule us and continue the with the left over colonial systems. De facto colonization replaced direct colonialism and we are suffering more than our forefather did under the direct colonial rule. The knew their enemy and could struggle against. Today, the enemy within us is in the garb of our defender, our saviour and our guardian that still confuses the people about the very objective and raison d’etre of Pakistan. The present military regime in particular, has made a mockery of the constitution and the objective behind creation of Pakistan. It discarded the Constitutional limits on its power and authority while at the same time piled more and more obligations onto the people. Were you able to refuse them? No? This, more than any of the other reasons, is why you have ceased to be a free human being, and are now a slave.
You are a slave of the salves. When you live under a government that serves not you but its foreign masters; that takes your wealth and your children to serve the interests of Washington, and lies to you to keep you docile and terrorise you to keep you obedient, how can it be otherwise?
You are a slave of the salves. You can stay that way, or not. It’s that simple. Nobody is coming to save you. There are no Mohammed bin Qasim from riding to the rescue. Whether you and your children will live as slaves or as free human beings is entirely up to you.