Pakistanis yearning for Miracle Men Based on Culture where Emotion & Dogma Rule

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Many societies crave for Messiahs but, as many have noted, Pakistan is one of those countries where, in the words of Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy, the “hunger for political leaders who can do miracles” is the most.

Hoodbhoy compares the recent elections in France to Pakistan: “compare the mass hysteria generated by Khan after being voted out of office with the calmness that followed France’s recent elections. Though despised by the majority of those who voted for him, Macron won handsomely over Marie Le Pen, his far-right, Islamophobic opponent. To her credit, Le Pen did not attribute the defeat either to Washington or to a global Islamic conspiracy. That’s civilised politics.”

Hoodbhoy asks the question: “Why democracy works for France but has had such a rough time in Pakistan is easy to see. It’s not just the military and its constant meddling in political affairs. More important is a culture where emotion and dogma shove truth into the margins. What else explains the enormous popularity of motivational speakers who lecture engineering students on methods to deal with jinns and other supernatural creatures?”

Hoodbhoy notes that Pakistani politics suffers from an absolutism “you are with us or against us. Zealots willingly believe accusations aimed at the other side but dismiss those aimed at their own. A rational PTI supporter, on the other hand, will entertain the Toshakhana as possible evidence of wrongdoing just as much as Surrey Palace or Avenfield Apartments. He is also willing to admit that all Pakistani political leaders — including Khan — have lifestyles at odds with their declared assets and income. Rational supporters who can say ‘yeh sub chor hain’ exist but are few.”

Further, “a culture of intellectual laziness feeds upon wild conspiracy theories coupled with unshakeable belief that political destinies are controlled by some overarching, external power. Zealots willingly believe accusations aimed at the other side but dismiss those aimed at their own. A rational PTI supporter, on the other hand, will entertain the Toshakhana as possible evidence of wrongdoing just as much as Surrey Palace or Avenfield Apartments. He is also willing to admit that all Pakistani political leaders — including Khan — have lifestyles at odds with their declared assets and income. Rational supporters who can say ‘yeh sub chor hain’ exist but are few. Instead, a culture of intellectual laziness feeds upon wild conspiracy theories coupled with unshakeable belief that political destinies are controlled by some overarching, external power. The ancient Greeks believed that the world was run by the whims and desires of the great god Zeus. For the PTI zealot, the centre of the universe has shifted from Mount Olympus to Washington. In the zealot’s imagination, an omnipotent American god sits in the White House. With just the flick of his wrist, he ordered Imran Khan’s (former) military sponsors to dump him and then stitched together his fractured political opposition into organising a no-confidence vote. Of course, everyone dutifully obeyed orders. And this supposedly happened inside one of the world’s most anti-American countries! But we know that pigs can fly, don’t we?”

The nuclear scientist concludes by noting, “Pakistan’s education system stresses faith-unity-discipline at the cost of reason-diversity-liberty. This has seriously impaired the ordinary Pakistani’s capacity to judge. Even in private English-medium schools for the elite, teachers and students remain shackled to a madressah mindset. Why be surprised that so many ‘youthias’ are burger bachas? Unless we allow children to think, the yearning for Miracle Man will continue. It will long outlast Imran Khan — whenever and however he finally exits the scene.”

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