Pak-China Bhai, Bhai – Really?

by Tausif Kamal

When the Chinese Premier, Mr. Wen Jianbao, raised the crescendo of the inveterate meme of China-Pakistan friendship to new heights by declaring in our Parliament that the “deep rooted” friendship was a result of the “vision and far sightedness of their ( China and Pakistan’s) leaders and love of the people”, many people shook their heads in disbelief.

In the case of China, it might be legitimately said that their leaders have indeed displayed these qualities in governing their country but the thought of Pakistani leaders possessing vision and far sightedness and acting out of nothing but “love of the people'” strains credibility. Mr Jinabao must be joking.

The ” vision” thing was pretty much dead as soon as our country was established. As far as our leaders’ “love of the people” is concerned, our people pray to the Almighty to be spared the wrath of such overwhelming “love” that has broken their backs! Even seeking strong relationship with China ( translate: seeking Chinese money and arms) by our rulers was motivated not by any vision or for love of the people but primarily for their self-serving, narrow interests : to bolster their sagging regimes.

This is not to find fault with the Chinese leadership whose actions and rhetoric are animated by their patriotic duty to promote the national and security interests of their country; whatever they do and say should be viewed in this context. Basically the problem lies with us, into believing the rhetoric to be actually true and taking it for granted when the facts prove it to be otherwise.

We have bought hook, line and sinker, the idea that Pakistanis have a “deep rooted brotherly relationship” with Chinese, the cliche repeated myriad of times, ad nauseam. Are we really like “brothers” and behave as such?

If Chinese and Pakistanis are like brothers, then so are Pakistanis and Eskimos in the North Pole because we have nothing in common with them either. Neither the clothes, nor the religion, nor the food, nor the culture, nor the political system, nor the way of life, nor the language.

Chinese abhors religion and makes interjection of religion in the affairs of the state a treasonable crime, punished by death; we interpose religion at every stage of our public and private life and makes insulting religion a crime punishable by death. We have feudal landowners owning vast tracts of land; Chinese have banned private ownership of land. In China, women work and play side by side with men and dress as they like; in Pakistan women they are brutalized through ‘honor killings’ , ‘ghairat’ and harassment, are made to wear burqa, hijab. Chinese men are modern, hard-working, productive, athletic, while in Pakistan you have bearded, medieval men in baggy shalwar kamizes, obsessed with religious rituals. And the list goes on and on…

The Chinese PM also talked about “joint development and progress”. The differences in stages of development between the two countries are so stark and so huge that they might as well be living on different planets. One is at the pinnacle of development in the world whose breathtaking progress has been unmatched in human history, while the other is among the lowest economic scale of the countries, teetering just to survive. Some “joint” effort indeed.

If you have a big brother who had risen to the pinnacle of success through sheer hard work wouldn’t you like to emulate him? Unless, of corse, you do not consider him as your brother and thus feel no compulsion to follow in his foot steps. This seems to be increasingly true in the case of China-Pakistan relationship. You may come up with all sorts of excuses in your justification for not going the China way, but one thing becomes crystal clear: Your alibis preempts and belies your claim to be a “deep rooted brother” of China.

In fact our “brotherly” relationship with China is restricted to an exchange of few officials and, of course, to our holding out our hands and receiving handouts and arms from China. Isn’t it strange that over the span of 30 or 40 years of our long “brotherly” friendship with China we haven’t thought fit to incorporate even a single idea or practice from that great and most progressive country of the world ?

There are no hidden secrets to China’s unprecedented rapid economic growth, which is essentially due to its sound economic policies, speedy execution of these policies and certain characteristics of its society and way of life. Its policies focus on very high levels of investments on capital assets, maximization of exports, correct division of labor to optimize productivity of its work force. It’s been a long time since China did away with exploitive feudalism.

China’s stellar performance not only in the economic field but also in culture, sports and recreation areas springs from its ability to provide a conducive environment for its people that is unhindered by religious rituals in the public and political arena, that rewards hard work, that promotes physical fitness and provides sports facilities in equal measure to both sexes etc.

If we really believe that Chinese are our ” brothers” then why cant we adopt at least some of their landmark policies that have propelled China to Olympian heights. Why can’t we adopt policies that would prioritize production, exports, capital investments, trigger rapid-fire implementation of plans and projects on a war footing, that puts in place an enabling, rather than obtructionist, bureaucracy?

Why can’t we, like China, have a society free of religious exploitation, religious encumbrances and religious rituals in public places and in politics, that confines religion to the confines of homes, that provides women personal freedom equal access to workplaces, sports and recreation, that makes practicality and productivity the centerpieces of its activities.

Unless and until both the people and the government of our country incorporate and follow the ways-economic and lifestyle wise- of our big ” brother” China, we will be destined to crawl among the bottom rungs of the comity of nations while China inexorably continues its sprint to the very top of the world. This seems to be the case, whether we do it or not.

Courtesy: CRDP,  January 16, 2011

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