By Wajid Shamsul Hasan
The other day Prime Minister Imran Khan attended to a Telethon to raise money to fight Coronovirus pandemic on April 23. He was witnessed and covered by some of the leading TV anchors. At one stage the Prime Minister commandeered the services of who could at best be described as his Papal authority on Islam—Maulana Tariq Jameel—to add his bit of rhetoric and religious demagoguery in support of IK’s effort to collect as much money as possible. At the end of it, it is said, Telethon could yield Rs 50 crore only. According to TV experts, had that much of time devoted to commercial advertising the collection could have easily crossed Rs 500 crores at least.
In his speech Maulana Tariq Jameel was extremely scathing. He singled out Imran Khan as the only honest and truth speaking Pakistani leader while branding 220 million of his compatriots as a nation of liars, cheats, crooks, ‘nauserbaazs’ and I don’t remember what else. He was unsparing in attacking Pakistani media as most corrupt, journalists/tv anchors worse than thieves out there to scavenge whoever gets caught by them. He was in particular brutally critical of Geo’s Anchor Hameed Mir including a few others.
According to his allegations they were deceitful, cheats, they accepted cash loaded ‘envelopes’ from the people they interviewed to pander their business of blackmail. Supporters of Hamid Mir and journalist community retorted strongly to Maulana by calling him a ‘Darbari’ maulvi. They also displayed his picture with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif praising him to the skies. No doubt there is some meat in the counter offensive that any Maulvi enjoying the comfort of a prime minister does not qualify to be trustworthy.
Maulana Tariq Jameel’s most questionable conclusion was the cause of coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan. According to him, loss of character of Pakistani women and men was responsible for the lethal pandemic. He says God Almighty has let loose his wrath on us to make us pay for our sins of omission and commission, our subjugation of the poor people, making our womenfolk to parade in public semi nude or marginally dressed and who behave like prostitutes.
Of course he did not mention or condemn those men who were illegitimate fathers to innocent children or women who fell victim to lust offered by lascivious athletic men for satisfying their sexual urges. Perhaps he was conscious of the fact that in his company at that time was one who has had a reputation of being much more than that. In this age of digital technology social made manages to dig out old tv clips where in his hero is seen frolicking at the beach with his girl friend wearing a razor thin bikini with him in displaying underwear.
Although Maulana masquerades as highly educated, would talk of the worlds beyond the stars, he, however, did not mention of the fact that if there could possibly be economic reasons too for the Nature to open up the floodgates of its wrath to equalize the gap between the rich and the poor. Novel Coronavirus-19 as it is called, has in last three/four months caused thousands of deaths in every corner of the world —rich and Poor countries as an Equaliser, its victims did not discriminate in status or religion, wealthy and the poor. Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews or other religious— all are being hit indiscriminately. In Medicare whatever is offered is as good or as effective in case of poor and the rich alike.
So far a large number of the top humanists, doctors, nurses and paramedics have joined those who got fatally afflicted with Coronovirus during the course of their treatment and care of patients. Indeed, the difference between the poor and the rich nations is not the age, nor caste, creed, colour or gender. Indeed, the difference between the poor and rich. For example Chinese have the oldest civilisation, so have the Hindus, Buddhists. Coronovirus has proved that it has noting to do with the age of the Nation or its resources.
Similarly people in oldest of all countries are living below poverty line such as India and Egypt with their bearing being more than 2000 years old. New born countries surfeit in wealth like Canada, United States, Australia– most of which 200years ago were insignificant, today are developed and are rich but they too are suffering as much at the hands of pandemic as any other underdeveloped country. Except for New Zealand, no country has so far successfully combated the pandemic and controlled it.
Experts rightly observe that the difference between the poor and rich nation does not also depend on the available natural resources of a region or a country. Look at Japan, a chain of resourceless islands, has limited territory, 80% mountainous, unsuitable for agriculture or farming, but it still is the second in world’s economy. It is rightly described as a mass of floating factory, importing raw material from the whole world and exporting manufactured products to the four corners.
More or less Switzerland is also sailing in the same boat. It does not grow cocoa but produces the best chocolates in the world. In her small territory she rears animals and cultivates the land only for four months in a year, nevertheless manufactures the best dairy products. A small country at that, which has an image of security that has made it the strongest bank in the world attracting deposits from all over. It has also made its name in manufacturing precision goods.
It has also a matter of recorded that the executives from rich countries who interact with their counterparts from poor or developing countries show no significant intellectual differences or superiority for example Pakistani and Indian doctors have made their name in the competitive world as some of the best heart, lung, kidney and neurosurgeons as well as financial experts. Much more, it is being rightly emphasised that the racial or colour factors also do not evince importance: migrants heavy in laziness in their country of origin are forcefully productive in rich European countries of their adoption.
The question that begs an answer is what then is the difference, where do they part and what does matter? Experts say the difference is the attitude of the people, moulded for many years by education and culture. When experts analyse the conduct of the people from the rich and developed countries, it is observed that a majority abide by the following principles of living such as:
1. Ethics, as basic principle, 2. Integrity, 3. Responsibility, 4. The respect for laws and regulations, 5. The respect from majority of citizens by right, 6. The love for work, 7. The effort to save and invest, 8. The will to be productive, 9. Punctuality.
In most of the developed countries – small or big —these principles are practiced with religious zeal in their daily life. In Pakistan we are not poor because we lack natural resources or because nature is often cruel towards us. No– We are poor because we lack right sort of attitudes. We lack the will to follow and teach ourselves these principles of working discipline of rich and developed societies.
Singaporean Prime Minister while on a visit to Pakistan the first thing that he lamented in his speech was about hours of load-shedding and lack of punctuality. We were told that we are in this sad state because we want to take advantage over everything and everyone without working or deserving it. We have become so pathetic that even if we see something being done wrongly, we let it happen as it is not our business.
(Author is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist.)