- Wednesday, 20 April 2016 13:43
by Abdullah Hussain Haroon
The author is the former Speaker of the Sindh Assembly and former Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations
In the 1840’s three British frigates took ‘Kurrachee’ without firing the proverbial shot across any bow and a while later Charles Napier was escorted through the presumably impenetrable swamp infested entrails of the divergent Indus courtesy of renegade Sri Hotchand. While the sirens and doyens of the Meer’s court in Sindh were lolled into a stupor by having signed earlier a concordat with the English crown believing Napier was merely on a ‘reccy’ to explore the Bolan access to the Emir of Cabul’s southern domain of Kandahar, Sindh was lost to a cunning foe.
The utter joy of obtaining a vast and important kingdom on a transit facilitation and without a care for the earlier signed and stamped royal treaty , Napier strung upon the wires alongside the Grand Trunk road his repeated exultation onto Governor General House Calcutta , ‘Peccavi’ ( I have Sinned ) , read Scinde. Only one grand nationalist had resisted the power bid takeover of Central Scinde, the Chief of the cavalry General Hosho Sidi who charged with eight hundred cavalry spears leveled towards the field guns battery of the invaders at Miani, the cavalry were then pummeled and shredded by the retorting grapeshot.
Having sworn fealty to the Talpurs the great warrior and Aam Mukhtiar of Scinde, the Rana of Umerkot resisted until his head was blown from the ramparts of his fort by Napier and a weak diplomatic response by the Mankani and Khairpur Meers allowed their emasculated domains to exist while stiff penalties and sorties were levied against their suzerainty. Such was the apathy in disconsolate Sindh that ten years later during the sepoy mutiny of India only 37 emboldened Englishmen held Sindh back from joining their compatriots while the kingdom slept. Then the yawning gap gazed menacingly from Shikarpur onwards to the gateway of the Bolan towards the old Emirate kingdoms’ capital, Kandahar. Having achieved the original sin, the subsequent Napierization of Scinde was initiated under one singular objective, to hold and occupy Scinde without financial burden or recourse to the treasury of the East India company as the swampy waste and desert that consisted of the new acquisition was a poor spoil for the East India Co.,’ if nothing could be gained nothing should be lost’ and thus impregnated by this belief, the maxim parented its famous progeny,’ ignore the Sindhi’.
Eighty five years later many brave sons rose in tandem decrying the imperial annexation of Scinde as an outpost tax collectorate of the Bombay Presidency and finally under the leadership of Sir Abdoola Haroon they wrested Scinde as a separate but still an imperialist entity and province of Imperial India . What was lost and desecrated on the field of subterfuge and battle was regained and resumed by the unflinching challenge of the people whereupon even this was not enough to an enlightened liberal named Mohammed Ali Jinnah who from the entrails of Dacca 1906/7 drew a separate state from the bowels of Indian imperialism. Not as a dominion like Australia and Canada but with an unshaken insistence upon unfettered independence and liberty, maintaining a firm belief in the infamous adage of hatred by Daniel Wambua Nguta,’a European is no good. He rolls you like a ball at will. You live by his command.’ For Jinnah it was partition of India and Azadi, nothing less would suffice. Thus began a speedy rise to the dizzying heights Sindh rose to.
Meanwhile unfazed and locked in his mindset, that worthy of Colonialism who believed that imperialism performed the necessary service of dragging the backward countries into the modern world. The Baron Lord Cranworth fulminated,’ We give peace where war was. We give justice where injustice ruled. We give Christianity a chance where only paganism ruled. Whether the native looks on it in that light or not is another matter, he probably does not as yet appreciate his benefits.’ Let history not be forgotten that this imperialism rested on the premise that ‘non western people were in need of salvation’ (Parsons) duly embellished and complemented by Cranworth‘s flippant assessment on natives, ’they lie, steal and poison, they conspire and are intensely lazy and are callously cruel’.
To accept such malevolence be understood as the truth by the educated and civilized world as benevolence and the above utterances to be the beliefs of albeit a minority in the sacred corridors of even the House of Lords is unfathomable. It took the Asian/Africans early dominance and ensuing confidence building arising out of the UN that spread its contrary beliefs and the west became reticent for a short while to perpetrating and continuing with the earlier imperial beliefs. Yet again in 2001 with International carnage on the rise and abounding terrorism upon the west, the President of the USA George Bush leading towards invading Iraq declared the once familiar rhetoric towards imperialism,’ America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish . We wish for others only what we wish for ourselves – safety from violence, the rewards of liberty and the hope for better life.’
The hard power unilateralists silently watching from their covens reinvigorated reentered the fray and chaotic fears were provoked of weak collapsed states not fulfilling their mandate and becoming springboards for mercenaries and terrorists necessitating revival of the slumber of the deep shadows of Imperialism and its reassuring fiat once again dominated by western Imperial thoughts. Utopians possessing hard power believed by destroying Saddam Hussain in Iraq, by removing the Afghan and Somalian ‘pretenders’ they could remake society , politics and cultures under unrivalled military and economic might through the benevolence of right wing ideologues joined by Christian evangelicals . Soon the baying transcended from the east Atlantic as Spanish Sahara bit the dust, followed by the provoked Arab spring, then the former 2000 years of the empire in the form of Egypt and Sudan, then icing on the cake as bloody Syria reopened millenniums old deep wounds and reignited the crusades. Then many imperialists and their potent brew of jingoistic concepts and maxims flourished and even today Harvard historian Niall Ferguson declares himself a ‘fully paid-up member of the neo-imperialist gang.’
The likes of Fergusson and Deepak Lal lauded the revived imperialism for providing liberalized economic systems and laying the foundations of global capitalism under aegis of a Hobbesian Leviathan (America) that would sponsor in the footprints of a dying British imperialism , an international moral order of benign application that would defuse the obvious Huntington clash of civilizations’ Islamicist threat by forcibly even embracing Muslin states into a liberal worldwide capitalism and thus global stability provided they were ‘humane , liberal and tolerant’. (phew) This was the ultimate cynical and hypocritical carnage; imperialism would always remain as, no more than naked self-interest masquerading as virtue.
The Athenian golden age was hoisted to neoclassicism ranks and the social prophethood of Demosthenes elevated to high ranking in the heavens, any Athenian protestor against Spartan and Lydian imperialism to the end would most probably not differentiate the tower of Babel erected to honour Demosthenes’ name and achievements. The west assumed the supposedly benign yet bloody adage of ‘for the people, by the people‘ etc as ‘the cure for people’ and cascaded democracy as their creed and with the wave of a magic wand bestowed to the basic elementals their slice of salvation . The people would assume the fig leaf of citizenship to bask in golden sunlight that actually glowed to light ‘the distinctly different and exploitable’, directly upon the path of economic dislocation, cultural degradation and even famine. What the gods bestow……….!
Imperialism and its subsequence were not for a while persona grata in the west but ‘new’ imperialism was the ordained answer for the south and east , after all ‘imperare’ only translates into ‘to command’ , fatally simple yet in effect , cruelly implemented . The Romans had no word for imperialism, but the communists reinterpreted and linked the ‘global spread of capitalism’ as imperialism, where hard power was used to reorder and transform a servile society. Where exercise of influence and privilege over a population without actual conquest was achieved but where might rested upon the threat of military action. Where persuasion would become hegemony based on the Greek word ‘hegemon’, meaning preeminence /leadership, to whom less powerful communities would blindingly subordinate themselves open to willful exploitation. These were also the communities open to invasion as they had lost the ability to defend themselves, such communities were recognizable not only by their vulnerability of being sharply divided along lines of class, ethnicity , religion or some other form of identity but would become easy recruits to invasion/occupation . The best example would be in World War II when Petain of France sought accommodation from Nazi Germany to defeat the French popular fronts’ political successes. A blot on history and unfailing hate object.
Impoverishment of the masses was another imperialism means of attracting foreign capital to backward countries development potential by the ensuing ravages of the imperialists. As Empress Marie Antoinette once misled the starving millions, ‘if they have no bread give them cake’, the imperialist devised and argued, let cheap remuneration for labour be the alternative for once thriving communities who no longer could afford to pay the pre designed exorbitant taxes. The French in Africa justified the ‘code de l’indégenat’ which gave them the summary authority to brutalize their people into forcibly working, on the grounds that it was a form of social education . Modern occupiers endeavoured to make imperialism more profitable by identifying the people as inherently exploitable and to identify the subjects of imperialism as culturally and racially inferior, the latter implying they were boxed permanently and inescapably, they were not fully formed/nominally human. (the III Reich/Jews, the Turks/Armenians.) Imperialism needs permanently exploitable people, alien and inassimilable, not right holding citizenry who believe in nation building.
Imperialism post 9/11 convinced the American citizenry by tributes to colonialism as sustenance to global stability, regulating free trade around the world, imposing the rule of law on anarchic regions, installing responsible governments, safeguarding international speculative investments, and installing the golden word, democracy. While Gann and Duignan argued against the price paid by people for the above golden treats, Niall Fergusson spoke in his time,’ of indentured service which was brutal but a highly effective means of compelling people to work being necessary to achieve the greater good of increasing the global output’. Imperial power was ‘sold’ on the grounds to domestic aspirants who by nature were venal and corrupt enough to believe that it would enhance national defense, improve international security, serve humanitarian causes and fight the war on terror.
The imperialists in Sindh went for broke, forced sale of the industrial backbone to themselves , harassing endless money credit from banks , taking over energy sector, storm strip selling the bones of Sindh infrastructure, selling and farming the obligations of government especially administration, convoluting the stipulations of the constitution, draining all small type growers and community projects by lowering their income by 75 billion, even drinking water became a 30 billion scam. All because they managed a small box called democracy that was duly ticked by the west as an insane yet fitting part of the jigsaw called democracy, remember the apologist Lloyd George and Chamberlain.
Today while Dictators of the masses bask in their Mayor Daley like cameos around the world echoing Cranworth and Fergusson to justify their rape of their fiefdoms while Demosthenes opens his can of worms to hook gullible fish under the auspicious gaze of the ill-fitting decomposing umbrella, those in the river who face the penetrating hiss of the acid rain outside the umbrella wonder why the umbrella is not as wide as the sky? Because in Sindh the Government holds the average three feet umbrella and how many PPP imperialists can crawl under one rock/oops umbrella and play the Sindh card. In every paragraph above read the happenings as part of the policy happening in Sindh today and recognize the despair of the people and the disgust on the visage of the rapacious rulers for the suffering and the predicament of what the innocent have to suffer under the convenient guise of the document ‘uniting for democracy’, a two player game of poker with no dealer , each protesting alternatively ‘what is mine ,is mine. What is yours is negotiable’. Whither Pakistan, whither the imperialism that has overtaken us. Whither the silver lining in the black clouds whither the impunity in the rulers callous hearts, whither the anglo saxon unshakeable sanctity of the peoples treasury and the cardinal sin of pecuniary denigration of that sacred money. Whither the Ali Babas and their 4,000 thieves day of retribution, whither the contempt for Pakistan’s rules, regulations, law and justice and the arrogance that the founders of Pakistan conceived, let the rulers of today cast asunder.
History has given enough warning that when the leaders arrogate by hook or by crook more money than the state can afford, that state is in a state of blind autocracy and especially when such monies is resultant from outright theft from the state then the next step is when the perpetrators take as their own right the running of revenue and institutions from the state and carve the vestiges of their statutory rights until the original reduces into several entities. ‘L’état est mort, vive l’état!’