Is Pakistan still a colony ruled by the white man’s supremacy?
As I waited outside the Head of Department’s office at my university for the sixth time in a week, I started thinking. I wondered what made someone attach so much importance to themselves that they felt the need to berate others in order to recognise their authority. This made me speculate; is Pakistan still a colony ruled by the white man’s supremacy?
Have we honestly never recovered from the imperialistic practices of the West? Does the ordinary Pakistani citizen try to exert the ‘white man’s burden’, knowing fully well that he is of colour? The answer is yes!
You see when an area is colonised, it is not just the people who suffer; it is also the environment, the nature, the language, the culture and most importantly, the thought that undergoes a lasting revolution. Some have the privilege of recovering; unfortunately, we did not.
Every year on the August 14, we mount our flags up high and our pride even higher to highlight the fact that the white man rules us no longer. We are free, independent, masters of our own fate. The truth, however, is that the white man left us, but he never truly left us. What led to the Partition in 1947 was not the mere fact that Muslims were under oppression. It was because our ancestors realised that the Muslim heritage was under threat and that everything they attached to themselves in the form of identity was dissolving into thin air. And who are you when your identity is stripped away from you? Nothing but a deliberate fragmentation of reality, an apparition, a chapter in someone else’s book, a kingdom that once was. Nothing.
Hence, in an attempt to safeguard this identity, our ancestors put everything to risk. The lives of their six-month-old babies, the virginities of their innocent daughters, the integrity of their elders who were still striving for the fallen Mughal empire, the courtyards that danced with the aroma of fresh chapatis made with a mother’s love, the fresh jowar fields where they saw the love of their lives for the very first time. Everything. And it finally paid off.
However, we as a nation have caused more harm to this very identity than anyone else has. Every institution seeking to hire lists fluency in English as one of the basic requirements. Interviews are conducted in English, by men dressed in English. We devour the foreign language as if our sustenance depends on it. We eagerly take out our dyes on holi, roses on Valentines, costumes on Halloween, and fireworks on New Years without realising that the average white man has the legal right to charge Muslims for animal cruelty on Eidul Azha.
Why is it that politician’s children, roughly the same age as you, have four security cars, loaded with security guards whereas you are forced to travel on a motorbike with nothing more than a helmet for protection? What have they done to ensure that their life is more valuable than yours? It is the mere veracity that they are born in privilege; the same privilege that once dismantled the subcontinent under the white man’s watch.
Seamus Heaney, in one of his poems, said,
“You carried your own burden and very soon, your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared”.
Using the word ‘symptom’ for privilege, he defined it as a disease, which is what it really is, for it has created divisions within our community. But what has given birth to this disease of imitating the West? It is the fact that our thoughts are not ours to flaunt anymore. They are mere reflections of what we are fed by the externalities; the media being the biggest culprit. Why is it that an English literature course would be stuffed with Shakespearean classics but it would never talk about Mohsin Hamid or Mohammad Hanif? We cannot wait for another nation to stigmatise us as inferior because with everything that we do, we have labelled ourselves as such already.
So while I waited outside the Head of Department’s office at my university for the sixth time in a week, I saw through the frosted window. I saw a power-greedy coloniser in a woman’s disguise, wearing a crispy white shalwar kameez with a floral dupatta and red peep-toes, casually sipping tea as she refused to meet with me.
But then I saw I saw my own reflection in that frosted window, and all of a sudden, I was not angry anymore. In that moment, I realised that we are all white men, just a privilege away from exercising the same control that is slowly driving us to forget humanity as we know it.