The New Feudals

While thinking about the new illiberals, it occured to me that there is something that has always bothered me about the way this ‘fake degree’ issue has been reported. Surely it is wrong to lie and misrepresent yourself, especially when trying to gain a political office. But there’s something rather unseemly about the way that certain journalists have taken such great pleasure in making accusations against those individuals whose degrees are perhaps not as prestigious as their own. It is as if the feudal land owners of the past are being replaced by a new group of feudal lords who believe that Pakistan exists for their own pleasure, and that the voice of the common people must be silenced.

Look at the way that Ansar Abbasi laughs at MPAs in his 30 June article for The News:

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has sent its first list of four MPs, including one federal and one Balochistan minister and a senator, with foreign degrees, which look hilarious.

Is it not shockingly cruel for someone like Ansar Abbasi to mock people for their degrees? In a nation with a 57 percent literacy rate, not everyone has had the luxury and privilege to attend university in London. With derision in his voice, though, Ansara Abbasi laughs at anyone who does not enjoy the privileges he himself holds.

But we must ask ourselves what Ansar Abbasi has really every done for his country? Perhaps there are some MNAs who do not hold prestigious degrees, but are they at least trying to find solutions to the nation’s problems? Ansar Abbasi simply mocks people and provides no constructive ideas. What is his solution to the food crisis? “Let them eat cake!”

But it is not just the journalists who are this new feudal class. What of the judges that demand so much esteem and privilege also?

Take for an example Khawaja Sharif.

Khawaja Sharif recently had the audacity to openly admit his 4-decade long and cherished friendship with Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif, perhaps trying to orchestrate the great degree of virtue that he thinks to possess, that despite this friendship he has not let the process of justice be affected by it. One is left befuddled and bewildered after hearing this declaration keeping in view the actions of Justice Sharif. Not only did the LHC dismiss petitions seeking the disqualification of Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif but Justice Khawaja asked the PPP to quit from the coalition in Punjab if it has any differences with Rana Maqbool of PML-N.

In a nation of 150 millions, what does it say when there is such a close circle of friends that control the most populous province with such arrogance that the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court will tell a major political party to go away as if it is just some dog in the street?

Or what are we to think about Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Iftikhar Chaudhry’s attitude towards the 18th Amendment? There was no complaint about this passage. Actually, it was passed unanimously by all parties. But the voice of the people is not important to the Chief Justice who took a unilateral decision to claim there is some “basic structure” to the Constitution which only he, like a feudal lord, can decide on his own whim.

I know that it is custom to refer to judges as “My Lord”, but don’t you think they are taking it a little too much to their heads when they start behaving as if they were actually feudal lords reigning over their serfs?

Perhaps this is why there is such a constant attempt to blame the Americans for everything. Are these ‘New Feudals’ using the jihadis as proxy fighters against their own serfs? Afraid that the Americans and their popular democracy that respects the votes of all its citizens will inspire the common people to strip them of their power just as they are gaining it?

These days it is not required to hold large tracts of land to exercise a feudal privilege. But Pakistan is not a feudal country, and we are not serfs to serve our lords. We are free men. We have been struggling for decades to shed the feudalism with which our country was born, only to see it being taken over by a ‘New Feudalism’ in which lazy journalists laugh at us for not having prestigious degrees from universities in London, and paternalistic judges refuse to let us decide our own fate. We reject all feudalism, whether it comes from a plantation owner in 1950 or a University of London graduate in 2010. Pakistan is for us, not to please the whims of some journalist, judge or jihadi. We will decide our own future.

 

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