There is a principle that is taught in most schools of government and war colleges that is very easily understood by many of us but difficult to identify. It’s designed to be subtle, non-threatening and non-aggressive, so that people will not notice it without someone pointing it out to them.
When any large population is broken up into manageable groups, each with their own objectives and tasks, it makes it impossible for a nation to come together and fight against the authority that rules over them or is invading them. It makes it impossible to find national solutions to national problems because everyone is talking about what their specific group want, not what the nation needs.
As Pakistanis, we have seen the practice of ‘divide and rule’ effectively used against us for decades.
We have politicians that talk about the Sindh and Punjab cards, the theft of rights from the Baloch and the Pashtuns, and the overpowering involvement of the armed forces in all aspects of governance. In between looting the exchequer, these politicians have been creating groups of sheeple who mimic and parrot every word their leader says as if it was written in stone. Like good servants of the realm, they stand by their king even when they know that morally and ethically he/she is wrong.
We are divided by ethnicity.
We have ‘religious’ leaders that talk about the teachings of Islam as if they are the only ones that understand the Holy Qu’ran. First, they break us into our respective religious beliefs (Muslims, Christians, Hindus, etc.), then they break us further into the schools of thought that we follow. Each time they break us, they make us easier to manage.
We are divided by religion.
We have media houses, talk show anchors and pundits that slur the history of this great nation because it serves their interests to project Pakistan as weak, a failed state, or a beggar nation. Throughout the day, our idiot boxes are filled by “Foxified” breaking news and theme music to notify us that the Prime Minister has gotten out of bed, a lowly political non-entity is speaking to the media and someone, somewhere is protesting the government’s inaction on something. Every evening, our homes are filled with the noise from the TV vociferously debating fringe problems, never talking about the real issues. They discuss political rivalries, ethnicity and “human rights” with the same politicians that are responsible for creating the issues they are discussing. Their objective is not to lead us to the oasis in the desert but to strand us farther away from the societal norms.
We are distracted by petty political rivalries.
Recently, we have seen the rise of an elite civil society and a liberal intelligentsia who are operating from a completely different playbook altogether. Their goal seems to be to discredit our armed forces, the conservatives among us and our social norms, to bring down nationalism in any form.
We are divided by income.
What I have always found interesting is the target of these campaigns. They are not interested in those who can engage with them and disprove their slipshod theories on the governance of a nation. They are not interested in intelligent debate. They are interested in what I call low-hanging fruit.
Low-hanging fruit, for those unfamiliar with the term, are the people that you can easily convince without really trying. They are those who are susceptible to pseudo-ideas rather than critical thinking and intelligence; governed by emotion over logic; willing to follow anyone who is an alternative to the status quo, even if their ideas are more destructive to the fabric of the nation.
This is the battleground for every one of the groups identified above, the critical mass that they want to control… I mean manage.
These are the marchers who gather when a politician calls, the patient weary people protesting outside parliament, the hooligans rioting during elections and on Kashmir Day. These are the low-hanging fruit that could change the country.
But the damage is already done. They have divided us. Confused the low-hanging fruit with rhetoric and kept them from selecting the best option for the nation, rather than the best option for the time being. They have picked the low-hanging fruit like they cherry pick issues to highlight.
We have seen examples of this divide and conquer principle throughout our history, without connecting the pieces of the mystery of who we really are. They don’t want us to connect the pieces because they would be exposed for what they are — agents against Pakistan. I am not saying foreign powers, a foreign hand or any of the other conspiracy theories that have been floated. No, these are our own Pakistanis working against Pakistan for their own interests, and their own agendas. Are they being funded by foreign countries? I’m sure some are. No one has ever questioned the media houses of Pakistan about the $50 million annually given to them by the US State department to project a pro-America position. No one has ever questioned the funding of the madrassas or NGOs.
No, wait… we have questioned it and summarily been told to go to hell.
Many of us remember Quaid-e-Azam saying that “no power on earth can undo Pakistan” from our Pakistan Studies courses, but do you think that he ever thought about the possibility of Pakistanis working to destroy Pakistan? I would suggest that he did, based on his response in Quetta in June of 1948, where he said:
“While, however, one must love one's town and work for its welfare – indeed because of it – one must love better one's country and work more devotedly for it. Local attachments have their value but what is the value and strength of a ‘part’ except within the ‘whole’. Yet this is a truth people so easily seem to forget and begin to prize local, sectional or provincial interests above and regardless of the national interests. It naturally pains me to find the curse of provincialism holding sway over any section of Pakistan. Pakistan must be rid of this evil.”
And most importantly, on that same day, he told us:
“We are now all Pakistanis - not Baluchis, Pathans, Sindhis, Bengalis, Punjabis and so on - and as Pakistanis, we must feel, behave and act, and we should be proud to be known as Pakistanis and nothing else. I ask you always to pause and consider before taking any step whether it is conditioned by your personal or local likes and dislikes or is determined by consideration of the good of the State.”
I pray that one day, we will follow those words of the Quaid and be proud to be Pakistanis and nothing else.