In dictatorships, life is good. You can’t vote, but the roads are smooth, trains run on time and deodorant is available in shops. In oligarchies like Saudi Arabia, no one goes hungry, princes have harems, gold-plated Ferraris and super yachts, though few ordinary citizens survive the prisons run by the secret police. Most of these are Muslim majority countries, including comparatively progressive Jordan. Pakistan, however, is another story. Like in every underdeveloped country, its elite sidesteps the laws of the land. Governed by a small cabal, its sham democracy is represented by feudal lords who do not pay taxes. Its industry is run by crony capitalism. Its economy runs on American money. Its powerful Army calls the shots, pun unintended, and its corrupt police enforces the rule of fear. Its ruling class, however, is waking up to a crisis of existence. The very forces Pakistan nurtured, financed, trained and indoctrinated are turning into its worst nightmare.
The Taliban, which ironically means student in Arabic, declared its independence from Pakistan by massacring 132 students in Peshawar. This is the face of jihad that Pakistan has bred and unleashed into the world which has come back to bite it. Today, it realises India is not its primary enemy. It’s the Taliban, Pakistan’s own Frankenstein, which seeks to cast it into the dark abyss of Arab medievalism. For India, a vibrant democracy, with its economic power, free society, a vociferous media, strong government and Army and respected by powerful nations, Pakistan is irrelevant except as a virus of terror. Elections there have not proved to be an effective antibiotic for decades. The inferiority felt by the rabid section of the Pakistani establishment and its uneducated poor makes them envy and hate India. It is this majority that encourages anti-India jihad and fears education’s power to liberate minds. The collapse of general education in Pakistan through the generations has created a vast, religion-obsessed sub-society that has turned against its Oxbridge elite.
Pakistan’s wayward monster threatens the power and lifestyle of its aristocracy, whichever political party its members may belong to. If the Taliban capture Islamabad, there will be no more women in Dior miniskirts and Victoria’s Secret lingerie, no more parties where alcohol flows and Beyonce sings, no more caviar and champagne, no fancy cars and trendy restaurants, where Michelin-trained chefs create exquisite menus. No more polo and high tea either—the last time the Taliban governed Afghanistan, its soldiers played polo with the heads of executed prisoners. Which is why perhaps Pakistan’s powerful Army chief Raheel Sharif is attempting to change his country’s anti-India doctrine and concentrate on wiping out the Taliban and pro-ISIS terror groups that operate on the lawless AfPak border. An educated guess would deduce that even the ISI, whose ranks are populated by religious fanatics, knows that its privileges would be taken away once Pakistan falls to jihadis, as amply proved in Libya, Iraq and Syria. Pakistan is walking a bizarre tightrope now—appeasing the radical elements while its jets pound the Taliban on the border.
Malala was just the beginning of a revelation. It has taken the deaths of 132 innocent children to make Pakistan realise that only education can destroy religious fanaticism. It brings hope and prosperity, opens minds to science, philosophy and diverse cultures and makes a nation powerful. Let’s hope that this lesson, written with the blood of its children, does not go waste.