Recently, I had a few discussions about the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, with my workmates.
When we Pakistanis talk about the man who got us the freedom we have today, we often forget to talk about the freedom we still do not have. A few days ago in a tweet, the prime minister of Pakistan Imran khan taunted those who criticized his poultry plan calling them “colonized minds’’ and just like that, he revealed the bitter truth about most of us.
In his widely popular book, Wretched of the Earth, well-known psychologist and philosopher Frantz Fanon wrote that:
“Imperialism leaves behind germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove from our land but from our minds as well.” — Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth
The thing about Pakistanis is that they managed the first part quite well. However, they – mistakenly or deliberately – forgot the second part. Skipping the debate of whether or not it was deliberate, let us move on to find the reason we are trapped in our colonial mentalities even after seventy years of geo-political sovereignty and independence.
The British claim that they have given a lot to the regions they colonized. However, let us also look at what the Indians and Pakistanis have to say. In a research that was published in Columbia University Press, well-known economist Utsa Patnaik said that during the British Raj that lasted for about two centuries, the British drained almost 45 trillion dollars from India due to which, India is still struggling to come out of poverty. She also talked about how Britain drained India’s mineral wealth to no credit, among other things.
However, there were another – perhaps more grave – losses that she did not talk about in her findings; which happen to be the grounds that stimulated colonial mentalities in the people of South Asia. These losses are ironically all that India gained from her colonizers. The legacy the British left the subcontinent includes everything from the educational curricula to the judicial system, which, upon careful evaluation seem more of a losses than benefits considering how much of our minds are colonized by these systems.
If we look at our society with an analytical eye, we would come to know that, subconsciously, we still consider the British culture superior to ours. We almost always look up to their culture, their lifestyle and their educational institutions and an average Pakistani would never want to let the chance of abandoning Pakistan for Britain slip out of their hand. Upon careful evaluation, we can come to the conclusion that the reasons for all these mishaps of our society are the very broken systems that the British made us the heir of; the very systems that, in seventy years, no Pakistani leader could find the time to alter.
Now, here we are, in the twenty-first century, our land free of white military men but our minds still overpowered by the systems created by white think tanks. The systems that educate us and abduct our minds to a world where everything white is superior, where everything western is stylish, everything Oxford is scholarly – and the worst of all – everything British is worth escaping Pakistan for.
It suffices to close this article stating that oppression does not necessarily need to be physical to be classified as so. It can come in other forms too, and the first step towards getting rid of it is to recognize it. Today, Pakistan is the target of a more widespread kind of oppression: mental – and the very systems left to us by Britain that we were too lazy to replace, are the strongholds of this oppression. With the current situation, it won’t matter if seventy years pass or seventy thousand: our minds will remain colonized by the same colonialists that left us in 1947.
Photo: The Economist