Education as a commodity

Education is a human right like food, healthcare, shelter and many other necessities of life.It is state’s responsibly to provide educational opportunities to all who seek them. However under capitalism it has been converted into a commodity to be bought and sold leading to drastic changes in how knowledge is imparted and acquired.
Knowledge is now equated with acquiring degrees or skills leading to better employment opportunities and making most amount of money possible. Those who are responsible for imparting knowledge have made it into a profitable business. And those who seek knowledge do so primarily to improve their chances of better employment and placement in the job market. Rather than using it to enhance one’s natural abilities, satisfaction of intellectual capabilities, and improving human society as a whole, it is used to make money even at the expense of others.
Under neoliberal philosophy rule of market has become word of God.  Public expenditure for social services like education and health has been reduced leaving people at the mercy of market forces. It is this philosophy dictated by international financial institutions coupled with the greed and dishonesty of local ruling class which has led to privatization of education in Pakistan.  Publicly funded educational institutions have become factories to produce low skilled workers as a source of cheap labor for the rich.  Quality education is now reserved for a chosen few with deep pockets and control of resources.
It is this greed behind the recent scandal involving the Comsats Institute of Information Technology.  According to informed sources the land where CIIT is located belongs to Punjab Worker Welfare Board. The Board built a building on this land in order to provide technical education to workers’ children.  Then for some reason decided to lease the building as well as 185 acres of land to CIIT with an understanding that 30% seats will be reserved for workers’ children. However that promise was never fulfilled.
Then in 2010 CIIT lured students with the promise of giving them dual degree at the end of four years due its partnership with Lancaster University in UK.  Students were charged extra fees for this.  Now as these students near graduation they are told that they will only receive local CIIT degree.  The dispute is headed towards court now.
The commodification of education in Pakistan has become a strong vehicle to promote and sustain class system where rich not only become richer but rule the country generation after generation.  This cycle can only be broken with a strong mass movement where people understand this exploitation in the name of education and decide to take matters in their own hands.
Education is a human right like food, healthcare, shelter and many other necessities of life.It is state’s responsibly to provide educational opportunities to all who seek them. However under capitalism it has been converted into a commodity to be bought and sold leading to drastic changes in how knowledge is imparted and acquired.
Knowledge is now equated with acquiring degrees or skills leading to better employment opportunities and making most amount of money possible. Those who are responsible for imparting knowledge have made it into a profitable business. And those who seek knowledge do so primarily to improve their chances of better employment and placement in the job market. Rather than using it to enhance one’s natural abilities, satisfaction of intellectual capabilities, and improving human society as a whole, it is used to make money even at the expense of others.
Under neoliberal philosophy rule of market has become word of God.  Public expenditure for social services like education and health has been reduced leaving people at the mercy of market forces. It is this philosophy dictated by international financial institutions coupled with the greed and dishonesty of local ruling class which has led to privatization of education in Pakistan.  Publicly funded educational institutions have become factories to produce low skilled workers as a source of cheap labor for the rich.  Quality education is now reserved for a chosen few with deep pockets and control of resources.
It is this greed behind the recent scandal involving the Comsats Institute of Information Technology.  According to informed sources the land where CIIT is located belongs to Punjab Worker Welfare Board. The Board built a building on this land in order to provide technical education to workers’ children.  Then for some reason decided to lease the building as well as 185 acres of land to CIIT with an understanding that 30% seats will be reserved for workers’ children. However that promise was never fulfilled.
Then in 2010 CIIT lured students with the promise of giving them dual degree at the end of four years due its partnership with Lancaster University in UK.  Students were charged extra fees for this.  Now as these students near graduation they are told that they will only receive local CIIT degree.  The dispute is headed towards court now.
The commodification of education in Pakistan has become a strong vehicle to promote and sustain class system where rich not only become richer but rule the country generation after generation.  This cycle can only be broken with a strong mass movement where people understand this exploitation in the name of education and decide to take matters in their own hands.

Two similar tragedies, two different outcomes. Dr. Shahnaz Khan

On March 26, 1911, a New York Times headline announced a disaster, “ 141 men and girls die in shirtwaist factory fire; trapped high up in Washington Place Building; Street strewn with bodies; Piles of dead inside.” Details of the news were: Victims were mostly young girls, ages 16 to 23; many of them primary bread winners for their families; there was no fire escape; fire fighters could not reach the girls trapped inside; many burned alive while others jumped to their death from 9th floor.
September 12, 2012,100 years later, another headline, another disaster, same newspaper: “Fire ravaged a textile factory complex in the commercial hub of Karachi early Wednesday, killing almost 300 workers trapped behind locked doors and raising questions about woeful lack of regulations in a vital sector of Pakistan’s faltering economy.” Details of the news were: hundreds of poorly paid workers were making undergarments and plastic tools; every exit but one had been locked; windows were mostly barred; some desperate workers flung themselves from the top floor sustaining serious injuries; fire fighters found dozens of bodies clumped together on lower floors.

According to a Cornell University web site, there was public outrage after the New York fire. Many in the middle class were already uncomfortable about the conditions of working class. Many civil society organizations like the national Consumers’ League, the Association for American Labor Legislation, the National Women’s Trade Union League and private citizens came together to ensure that something like this never happens again. Their efforts resulted in the formation of a high powered commission with a mandate to look into fire hazards, unsanitary conditions, occupational diseases, effectiveness of factory inspections and many other matters. This led to legislative changes about work place safety and other issues like low wages, long working hours, sanitary conditions, and women and children labor. This wave of changes started from New York City, eventually affecting the whole country in the form of New Deal under FDR.

On the other hand, even though after over two years, Baldia factory fire incident is in the news again as a result of JIT report, it is not to highlight the plight of workers but for political point scoring. Nothing much has changed for the workers of Pakistan. They continue to work long hours at less than minimum wages, under hazardous, unsafe, unhealthy and unsanitary conditions and continue to die, get disabled and sick, with no hope of a better future.

So, what is the difference between 1911 New York and 2012 Karachi? Why different outcomes after two similar tragedies? Perhaps one of the most important differences is the reaction of citizens. Whereas New Yorkers were outraged and appalled at the incidence, people of Karachi went about their business as usual after initial few words of condemnation. In New York also there must have been political opportunism, personal egos, and infighting, but that did not overshadow the main concern.

In early 20th century New York, there were many progressive movements whereas in Pakistan, in the past several decades, any element of progressiveness has been systematically suppressed and replaced with reactionary and retrogressive thinking. Progressive movements propel the society forward, trying to break away from the old methods, challenging the status quo, questioning the accepted truths, promoting out of box thinking, and eventually making people think about issues in a new light to find solutions to the society’s problems. In the absence of such movements, any questioning is discouraged; blind following of the customs and traditions is encouraged; group think and herd mentality rather than individual innovation is praised. This directly and indirectly affects society’s attitudes towards authority, rarely daring to stand up to it, acceptance of dominant narrative resulting in tolerance, even compliance with exploitation and oppression in the name of fate and God’s will.

Absence of trade unions in Pakistan is another major factor. A couple of years prior to the Triangle Factory fire, New York workers had struck successfully, winning the right to have most of shirtwaist factories declared as union only shops. Triangle Factory was not one of them. Currently, in Pakistan less that 3 per cent workers are unionized. Over the past several decades, unions have been systematically undermined, discouraged, penalized, and co-opted. Thus workers have lost an effective voice speaking up for their rights. Non-unionized workers do not have bargaining power or the clout to get even the existing laws implemented, let alone getting news laws passed.

Present day media is a force to be reckoned with and it can become a strong voice advocating workers rights and highlighting their issues. However, unfortunately, media, like all institutions under capitalism, serves the interests of capitalists. So, it has become a tool for the ruling class to be used for their own agendas. Instead of focusing on the rights and plight of workers, JIT report was used to further political agendas in shouting matches on various talk shows.

Some civil society organizations and NGOs have been trying to rectify this situation but have been ineffective so far. Recently, Jawad Ahmad, famous musician and singer, has announced to start a movement for labor rights from his organization International Youth and Workers Movement’s platform. I hope that this will not just raise public consciousness but others will join him in this struggle. At the same time we must acknowledge that it will not be an easy task.

Globalization of capital has resulted in globalization of workers’ exploitation.
Big capital roams the streets of poor countries in search of cheap labor, looking for places to set up sweat shops, hungry for the sweat and blood of people desperate for work, in order to boost CEO bonuses and maximize shareholder profits. It monopolizes resources in the name of free economy and claims to provide jobs to the wretched of the earth. To further fool the poor, the owners of this capital set up foundations and NGOs to ‘serve’ the victims of their savagery. While writing trade agreements meant to suck the blood of poor, they brandish their generosity by donating money to eliminate poverty, hunger, and disease. And media sings songs in their praises for trying to get people out of living hell, obfuscating the fact that the same very people are responsible for creating that hell.

Thus we must understand and accept the fact that even though having active citizen advocates for workers, passing protective laws, having strong unions will all help to ameliorate the current disgusting and pathetic conditions to which workers of Pakistan and the world are subjected to, the only permanent, sustainable, and long term solution is to replace capitalism with a more just and equitable economic system.

Workers safety

Work place accidents causing death or injury are an integral part of a worker’s life in Pakistan. For example according to Labour Watch Pakistan:

February 6, 2012: 25 workers killed and 17 injured, including women and underage girls due to collapse of the 3 story building, where Orient Labs (Pvt) Ltd was operating, in a residential area on Multan road was operating.
September 12, 2012: 6 men, including 4 sanitary workers in Jhang, were killed by inhaling poisonous gas while trying to repair out-of-order electric motors in a sewage disposal. They had no safety gear.
September 12, 2012: over 300 people lost their lives in a factory fire in Baldia Town, Karachi
July 13, 2013: 2 laborers fell to death at Gadani ship-breaking yard bringing the death toll to 6 in 2 weeks
June 5, 2013: The collapsing metallic framework of an under construction skyscrapper sent 4 laborers plunging 150 feet to their death in Federal B area, Karachi
March 17, 2014: Four labourers were killed and 17 others, a safety engineer among them, were injured in a gas cylinder(s) explosion in a factory at the Quaid-i-Azam Industrial Estate on Mar 14.
February 3, 2014: A labourer was killed and 13 others were injured when an under construction ice factory collapsed near Jamil Chowk, Ring Road on Feb 2 afternoon.
September 10, 2014: Three labourers were killed and two others were injured in a coal mine blast in Orakzai Agency on Sep 10 morning.
January 16, 2015: Six laborers were killed and seven others injured in a coalmine blast in the Doli area in Orakzai Agency

These headlines are just a small representation of a much broader, deeper, and bigger problem which plagues workers in most developing countries and Pakistan is no exception. Also these headlines do not even take into consideration the problem of disease and disability as a result of hazardous conditions in workplace all over Pakistan, affecting not only individuals but also their families. The problem afflicts private as well as public sector, across all branches of industry/agriculture, all regions, all ages, and both genders.
Many civil society organizations and some honest officials here and there have shown their concern about this matter and have tried to raise their voice. Many have tried to work through legislative system to improve the situation. But so far these efforts have been ineffective. After each incident there is inquiry, statements of sorrow, pledges to rectify the problem, may be a slap on the wrist of the owner and some measly compensation for the family of the deceased or injured. However within a few days or weeks the whole issue is forgotten and things go back to the way they were. Workers of Pakistan face multitude of problems but in this space we are going to focus on safety issues which are a matter of life and death for many.

A brief overview of these problems is as follows: Death due to falls from heights, collapse of buildings, mines and construction sites, electrocution, fires and chemical blasts, exposure to chemical fumes, smoke, dust, and other pollutants, exposure to chemical waste, e-waste, carrying heavy weights beyond their physical capacity. Besides causing death many of these problems lead to disabling diseases: eye problems and even blindness, skin diseases, lung diseases, cancer, and joint and muscle deformities. Most of the workers have shorter than average life span and even shorter working life.

A brief list of the causes is as follows: a) absence of comprehensive legal framework to ensure work place safety b) lack of implementation of whatever old and outdated laws are on the books c) no meaningful work place safety inspection by honest and well trained inspectors d) violation of building safety codes in terms of fire prevention and control, emergency exits etc e) absence of safety measures against exposures to chemical fumes, smoke, dust, and other hazardous waste f) lack of safety gear for workers g) lack of consciousness among workers about their rights h) untrained workers i) weak and ineffective trade unions to speak up for workers j) high unemployment rates and abject poverty forcing the poor to accept these horrendous work conditions k) powerful industrialist, land owners and business people who control the system and can manipulate legal, political and social systems to their advantage.

In order to fully grasp the difficulty in rectifying this situation one has to understand some basics concepts about the current economic system, nature of profit and relationship between workers and industrialist.

1. All profit is unpaid labor: Let’s say that a shoe factory owner employs 100 workers to make 100 shoes per day. It costs her/him $10 per pair of shoes including wages, raw material, machinery, electricity etc. If this pair of shoes sells in the market for $100, then $90 profit represents the unpaid labor and really should be paid to the workers but it actually goes to the factory owner/shareholders etc.

2. In order to maximize his profit factory owner will try to reduce his expenses as much as possible. It means lower wages and cutting on the worker safety provisions. This leads to a quest for finding cheap labor, leading to hiring of women and children who are paid much less than adult males, moving high risk labor jobs to developing countries where poor do not have much demands for safety, unfair trade agreements between developed and developing countries.

3. There is a constant struggle between workers and capitalists, with workers asking for better wages and benefits while capitalist trying to resist it. But capitalist always has an upper hand as he/she controls all political and social institutions.

This relationship between worker and capitalist is the same even in developed countries. The reason workers enjoy relatively better living standards, safety from work related hazards and social security is a result of strong labor movement over the past one and a half century and strong trade unions. And then in 1917 Russian revolution shook the capitalist world to the core. This unprecedented event in the human history inspired, encouraged and energized millions of workers around the world. Capitalists, afraid of these workers’ movements, were forced to hand out some concessions to the workers in more developed countries. At the same time, cold war was started and thus union leaders were co opted and workers movements undermined in the name of national interests and patriotism. Social contracts were rewritten and new deals were offered. And thus workers won some rights, but none of this changed the fundamental adversarial and antagonistic relationship between capitalist and worker. And so as soon as that threat was gone, workers started to lose many of the hard earned benefits.

So what is the solution? Of course the ultimate sustainable solution is elimination of capitalism for which a unified, strong, and international mass movement is needed. But that does not mean workers should continue to get sick, injured, or die unnecessarily till then. In Pakistan there is a need to educated, inform and organize workers and to raise socio-political consciousness among the masses to understand workers issues. There is also an urgent need of strong, independent, active, and representative trade unions. Currently only less than 3 per cent of Pakistan’s work force in the formal sector participates in unions. Most of the informal and agricultural sector workers do not even have the right to form trade union. Even where trade unions are legally allowed, they face many hurdles in their effective functioning. This is unlikely to change unless workers across all industries and institutions, regardless of religious, sectarian, clan, or national affiliation, unite on one platform and general public is enlisted to support them.


Martin Luther King Jr. by Dr. Shahnaz Khan

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. His was a short but remarkable life. According to The Seattle Times, “At 33, he was pressing the case of civil rights with President John F. Kennedy. At 34, he galvanized the nation with his, “I have a dream” speech. At 35 he won the Noble Peace Prize. At 39, he was assassinated, but he left a legacy of hope and inspiration that continues today.”

King’s struggle is perceived to be specifically against racial injustice in the USA and after his death, his message just like that of Nelson Mandela, through the power of mainstream media, has been sanitized and cleansed of any revolutionary content. King, a deeply religious man, did start with a message of love, but he quickly realized that there can be no love without justice; that political equality without economic equality will be meaningless; that in this struggle you may have to use coercive methods also.
According to William H. Chafe, “The third and final point is King’s insistence that racial justice was inextricably linked to economic justice and international peace.”We are engaged in a social revolution,” he proclaimed. “The evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism are all tied together, and you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others.” That was why he condemned America’s war in Vietnam, demanded “basic structural changes in the architecture of American society,” and insisted that his dream of a just society required “a radical redistribution of economic and political power.”
Unfortunately, he was eliminated before he could campaign for this “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” As a result, even though there is no racial segregation in America anymore, people are still divided as rich and poor.
Racial, ethnic, gender, national rifts and conflicts are but a reflection of the wealth inequality. It is the presence unjust economic structure which leads to all conflicts. When people do not or cannot see the real enemy, they turn upon each other. Poor killing the poor, poor on poor crime, poor being used as tools to oppress other poor are manifestations of this phenomenon.
Almost half a century after King’s death, it is not just USA that is divided but the evil of wealth inequality is plaguing the whole world with widening difference between haves and have nots. According to a recent OXFAM report the richest 1% of the world’s population now collectively owns 48% of all the wealth of the planet and by 2016, they will have over half. According to World Bank, half the population of the world lives on just $2.5 a day. Over a billion people still have no access to clean water and 1.6 billion to electricity. Hunger is the leading cause of death in the world. Hunger and poverty go hand in hand and are of course closely linked to monopolization of world resources by a few. Wealth inequality does not just lead to poverty but also to skewed political power where more and more decisions are made not only without consultation with those whose lives they are going to affect; where poor not only lose money but also their dignity; they not only don’t have a say in international and national decision making but their very existence depends on decisions made by those who are far removed from their lives. This wealth concentration leads to erosion of democratic institutions, leaving the poor masses at national and poor countries at international level out of loop. It has become so pervasive that even philanthropy is not immune to it; rich decide what is best for the poor.
Dr. King had realized that it is impossible to end racial oppression without ending economic oppression. We hope that this message will be a call to action for all just and peace loving people on this planet who will work towards fulfilling Dr. King’s dream.
We, at Rise For Pakistan and International Youth and Workers Movement are committed to EQUALITY, which in essence is economic equality with equitable wealth distribution, access to opportunity, and right over resources. In 21st century when world’s productive capacity is enough to fulfill needs of all human beings on this planet, there is no justification for poverty, hunger, disease, and destitution in any part of the world. There will be peace only if there is justice.


Murder of the innocent by Shahnaz Khan

September 11 was second anniversary of the Baldia Factory fire in which 300 innocent people perished. Let’s go back in time about one hundred years to March 25, 1911. In the deadliest industrial disaster in the US history 146 people—mostly young women, ages 16 to 23—die in The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire under almost similar conditions. Just like in Baldia Factory, there were no exits to escape as the doors were locked to prevent workers from leaving without permission and “stealing” stuff. Fire department responded but did not have proper equipment to reach 10th, 11th and 12th floors where factory was located. As a result many young workers jumped to their deaths through windows. The owners of the factory though convicted by the court, actually ended up making money as they paid $75 per deceased and recouped $400 per casualty from the insurance for the loss. Neither of the two incidents can be called an accident. It was nothing short of murder of the innocent workers due to willful neglect, pure greed, and sheer indifference to the sanctity of human life.
Rose Schneiderman, a prominent socialist and union activist, gave a speech at the memorial meeting on April 2, 1911, “I would be a traitor to the burned bodies if I came here to talk good fellowship. We have tried you good people of the public and we have found you wanting…We have tried you Citizens; we are trying you now, and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers, brothers, and sisters by way of charity gift. But every time workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable, the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us….Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it s up to the working people to save themselves by a strong working class movement.”
As we all know that workers in the USA enjoy many benefits which their counterparts in developing world cannot even dream of. But it is also a fact that they did not acquire those benefits due to the kind heartedness and benevolence of their bosses. History of labor movement in the USA is checkered with episodes of conflict between workers and capitalists resulting in bloodshed. Many of the benefits which the workers enjoy now are a result of this struggle. Workers had to face stiff resistance not only from the industrial czars but also the state and judicial system which were firmly on the side of the big business. It was a combination of this struggle, prevailing economic conditions, wars and last but not the least the threat of communism that they were finally able to win the 8 hour work day, paid leave, health and unemployment benefits, right to safe working conditions and many other perks they enjoy.
Two years have passed since Baldia Factory fire and not much has changed in the working conditions of the workers in Pakistan. Baldia Factory accident was not an isolated incident. Workers in almost every industry are exposed to hazardous and unhealthy environment. Many die or are crippled for life leaving their families in abject poverty. Most of this is a result of poor collective bargaining power of the workers due to non-participation in the unions, or in many cases non-existence of unions. According to some sources less than 2 percent workers in the formal economic sector are part of a union. The ones in the non-formal sector do not even have unions. And peasants in Pakistan are not legally allowed to form a union (except in Sindh). Unless this changes, workers will continue to be exploited. There is a dire and urgent need of a strong labor movement which focuses on workers’ rights in all sectors. This can only happen if workers are united, organized and ready to fight a stiff and protracted battle against a ruthless opponent which is organized, resourceful, has the force of not only the state but the international capital behind it. The only way to counter globalized capital is for the workers to also develop alliances across geographical borders.
At the same time we must recognize that even if the workers win some rights and benefits through this struggle, it is still neither a sustainable solution to the inequality of wealth, nor a permanent end to workers’ misery. It is evidenced by the recent assault on workers’ rights in the USA and Europe. Many of the gains obtained through previous hard work have been gradually lost. This shows that as long the means of production are controlled by the capitalists, workers will be on their mercy and murder of the innocents will continue if not through accidents, then through malnutrition, lack of clean water and absence of healthcare. The only solution to this problem is to bring the means of production under workers’ democratic control. And this idea puts terror in their hearts.

“Marches, Revolution and Change” by Dr. Shahnaz Khan

If marches could usher in revolution which would lead to the change that everyone is waiting for, it would be a piece of cake which everyone could share and have picnic on the greens of Islamabad. But, alas, that is not how things work in real life. No one will contest that 80 percent of people in Pakistan want change. But what kind of change are they waiting for?  What would a person who is hungry, malnourished, sick and homeless want?  The first fundamental requirement for life is that basic human needs of food, shelter and healthcare are met.  In a country where 60 per cent of population lives on less than $2 a day, the first positive step would be to provide them with these necessities of life.  They also would like to have social security: to not worry about what will happen to their children if they die or get disabled, to be free of fear of old age when they cannot work or inability to pay for medicine when sick.  And to be treated with dignity and respect: not to be a slave in bonded labor or on the mercy of contractors to get jobs, not to be kicked and slapped because the boss did not like something, not to have to beg for kindness and charity. What about justice? Not having to buy justice by hiring expensive attorneys, to be equal in the eyes of law—not where murderers are let go free because they are rich, not where poor are punished for stealing food and rich allowed to embezzle from national exchequer. Oh, but what about the freedom of expression? Yes, where media is free from corporate control.  Where one can go on TV and say what one thinks about the system, about the lies perpetrated in the name of God, speak against the tradition, culture and values which have kept women chained and oppressed, speak about the rights of minorities and their humanity without fear of being killed.  But most important of all, why shouldn’t they have the same choices in life as their leaders: to send their children to elite schools or even abroad for education, to take vacation in exotic places, to shop for designer clothes, to eat in upscale restaurants, to choose the profession they like, to refuse work in unsafe and unhealthy environment.  They are equal stakeholders in this country.  Why should all the wealth and power be controlled by a few? Why should some children be born into poverty which they cannot overcome all their life and others with a silver spoon? Why should generations of people are condemned to destitution and depravation? They should have the same right over resources and same access to opportunity.

But none of the leaders of the marches and revolutions is talking about this kind of change? Imran Khan’s six demands merely focus on electoral reforms: make that process transparent, punish the culprits who rigged 2013 elections, resignation of the current elected officials and have new elections. As if by holding new elections we would get true people representatives in the assemblies who will make laws to benefit the masses and as if the current elite will willingly let go of their privileged status and all the perks they have extracted by squeezing the sweat and blood of workers and peasants.  And of course when these politicians spend money on election, their hope is to recoup ten times the amount spent. The fact is that no matter how many elections are held, under this system, it will be the same people sitting in the seats of power.

And what about Tahirul Qadri? He is talking about the poor and the destitute. But does he have the road map for this? It is nothing short of taking back what has been illegally and immorally extracted from the people of Pakistan. The lands which were gifted to those who did the bidding of the colonial masters and the lands which have been extorted now through corruption to build posh residential colonies for the rich while majority lives in slums need to be returned to the people. Money which has been stolen and put in Swiss accounts needs to be brought back. The workers, peasants, laborers, employees who produce wealth by working in lands, factories, mills, industries, mines, and other work places need to be the equal owners of these places and not work for peanuts.  Banking, financial sector and stock market which have been distorted to become money minting machines for those who already have more than enough need to be brought under control. In short it needs complete restructuring of the economic set up. This will be the change worth its name and the revolution which will bring that kind of change will not be limited to a few thousand but will be the voice of millions.

President Obama was elected on his promise of change in 2008.  In 2012 in an interview on the Spanish language Univision network he said, “The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside.” The most powerful leader of the so called free world realized that those in power will not welcome a change which dethrones them. But any change short of this is just a white wash and nothing else. And the only outside force which can bring that change is the people power, whether in Pakistan, USA or the world.

So, marches will not bring on the revolution ushering in the change which people want.  People will have to work hard for it and make it happen. So, it is not a piece of cake and no time to have picnic yet. But, yes, the day will come.

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change”

آزادی اور انقلاب”- تحریر: جواد احمد”

گذشتہ دو ہفتوں سے پاکستان کے منظر نامے پر سیاسی ہلچل عروج پر ہے۔ تمام اخبارات اور ٹی وی چینلز پاکستان تحریک انصاف اور پاکستان عوامی تحریک کے دھرنوں کی براہِ راست کوریج کے ساتھ ساتھ سیاسی تبصروں اور تجزیوں کی زَد میں ہیں۔ ہر طرف ایک ہی بات ہورہی ہے کہ کیا وزیراعظم نوازشریف مستعفی ہونگے یا پھر دونوں جماعتوں کی جانب سے جاری یہ دھرنے کیا رُخ اختیار کریں گے۔

آزادی“ اور ”انقلاب“ کے نعروں کی آواز یںسُن سُن کر عام آدمی ان نعروں میں خالی پن سے بھی بخوبی آگاہ ہو چکے ہیں اور عمومی طورپر ان نعروں میں عوامی عدم دلچسپی کا اظہار نظرآ تا ہے۔ کیونکہ تحریک انصاف کی جانب سے جاری ” آزادی“ دھرنے کے مطالبات اور پاکستان عوامی تحریک کے ”انقلاب“ کے لئے جاری دھرنے دونو ں ہی عام آدمی کے حالات ِزندگی اور ان کو در پیش مسائل کے حل سے عاری ہیں۔ اور ان دونوں جماعتوں کے نعروں، پروگرامز اور مطالبات کی روشنی میں پاکستان کی آبادی کی اکثریت جو کہ مزدوروں ، کسانوں اور محنت کشوں پر مشتمل ہے اپنے مسائل کا حل ہوتا نہیں دیکھتی، اسی وجہ سے گذشتہ دو ہفتوں سے جاری ان دھرنوں سے لا تعلق ہے۔

تاریخ ہمیں بتاتی ہے کہ انقلابات نہ تو نعرے بازی اور نہ ہی محض خواہشات کے ذریعے ہوتے ہیں اور نہ ہی چند ہزار لوگوں کے دھرنے دے کر بیٹھ جانے سے ہوتے ہیں۔ انقلاب تو سماج کے ان تمام محروم، محکوم، مجبور، بے بس اور استحصال زدہ طبقات کی منظم جدوجہد کے نتیجے میں رونما ہوتے ہیں۔اوراس میں بھی تفریق کی ضرورت ہے کیونکہ اکثر اوقات حکمران طبقات میںسے کوئی پارٹی، گروہ یا افراد انقلاب کی با ت کرتے ہیں تو اس سے اُن کی مراد محض سیاسی انقلاب سے ہوتی ہے، جس کے ذریعے پرانے حکمرانوں کو تبدیل کر کے نئے حکمران لانا اور ایک پارٹی، گروہ یا فرد سے اقتدار چھن کر دوسری پارٹی، گروہ یا افرد کے پاس آجاتا ہے۔ اس عمل کے نتیجے میں ایسا انقلاب لانے والی پارٹیوں اور ان کے لیڈران کی حکمرانی کرنے کی خواہشات تو پوری ہوجاتی ہیں مگر ایسے انقلابات عام آدمی کے حالاتِ زندگی میں کسی قسم کی بنیادی تبدیلی نہیں لاسکتے۔

گذشتہ آٹھ، دس برسوں میں دنیا میںاٹھنے والی تحریکو ں اور ان کے نتیجے میں آنے والی تبدیلیوں کا جائزہ لیں تو بے شمار ایسی مثالیں دیکھنے کو ملتی ہیں کہ ان تحریکوں کے نتیجے میں پُرانے حکمرانوں کے اقتدارکا خاتمہ تو ہوگیا اور ان کی جگہ نئے حکمرانوں نے اقتدار سنبھال لیا مگر معاشی و سماجی حالات میں کوئی بہتری نہیں لائی جاسکی ۔ جس کی واضح مثالیں 2008ءمیں نیپال میں 240 سالہ بادشاہت کا خاتمہ کر کے اقتدار کمیونسٹ پارٹی آف نیپال ( ماﺅ اسٹ) اور اس کے اتحادیوں کے پاس آگیا۔مگر دس سالہ خانہ جنگی کے نتیجے میں بادشاہت کو تو ختم کر دیا گیا لیکن نیپال کے معاشی ڈھانچے اور معاشی بنیادوں کو تبدیل نہیں کیاگیا۔نتیجتاً آج بھی غربت، بھوک، افلاس، جہالت، بیماری اور بد حالی نیپال کا مقدر بنی ہوئی ہے۔
اسی طرح لیبا میں قذافی کا تختہ اُلٹا گیا ، اس کی جگہ نئے حکمران اقتدارمیں آگئے مگر لیبا کے عام آدمی کی زندگی بہتر نہ ہوسکی۔ اس طرح کے تمام انقلابات جو کہ محض سیاسی اقتدارکی تبدیلی تک محدود ہوتے ہیں ان کا انقلاب کے حقیقی معنوں اور مقاصد سے دور دور کا بھی کوئی تعلق نہیں ہوتا ۔

انقلاب کے حقیقی مطلب سمجھنے اور مقاصد جاننے کے لئے ضروری ہے کہ سب سے پہلے سماج کے ڈھانچے کو سمجھا جائے ۔ کسی بھی سماج کا بنیادی ڈھانچہ معاشی نظام ہوتا ہے جبکہ سیاسی نظام اور دیگر سماجی ڈھانچہ اس معاشی ڈھانچے کے اوپر کھڑا ہوتا ہے اور اس کے معاشی نظام کے تحفظ اور مفادات کی نگہبانی کے لئے ہی تشکیل پاتا ہے اور لازمی طورپر اپنے اس بنیادی کردار کی تکمیل کے لئے مصروفِ عمل رہتا ہے ۔ حکمران طبقات کے گروہ مختلف اوقات میں اس بالائی ڈھانچے میں اپنی بنیادی ضروریات کے تحت مختلف تبدیلیاں لاتے رہتے ہیں تاکہ ان کے بنیادی معاشی مفادات کو یقینی بنایا جاتا رہے اور ان کا استحصالی معاشی نظام چلتا رہے۔

تحریک انصاف اور عوامی تحریک جس طرح کے مطالبات لیے ہوئے ہیں اگر ان کے یہ مطالبات پورے بھی ہوجائیں اور مسلم لیگ(ن) کی حکومت ختم ہو کر نئی حکومت بھی بنادی جائے، انتخابی عمل کو بہت زیادہ شفاف بنادیا جائے تو بھی عام آدمی کے حالاتِ زندگی میں کوئی بہتری نہیں آسکتی۔ موجودہ سرمایہ دارانہ جمہوریت میں ہر پانچ سالوں میںایک مرتبہ عوام کو یہ حق دیا جاتا ہے کہ وہ حکمران طبقے میں سے کس کو اپنے اوپر حکمرانی کے لئے منتخب کرتے ہیں۔ مگر اقتدار آخر کار حکمران طبقے میں ہی گھومتا رہتا ہے۔

دراصل حقیقی مسائل نہ تو دھاندلی اور انتخابی اصلاحات ہیں اور نہ ہی کسی سیاسی جماعت کی بری حکمرانی بلکہ اصل مسئلہ تو موجود ہ سرمایہ دارانہ نظام کا ہے جوکہ طبقاتی بنیادوں پر قائم ہے اور سماج کی اکثریت کے استحصال پر ہی چلتا ہے۔آج دنیا میں بے پناہ تکنیکی ترقی کے نتیجے میں چیزوں کی اس قدر بہتات ہے کہ21ارب انسانوں کی ضرورتیں بھی پوری کی جاسکتی ہیںمگر موجودہ سرمایہ داری نظام کی وجہ سے ایسا ہو نہیں پار ہا۔ کیونکہ سرمایہ داری نظام میں چیزوں کی پیداوار انسانوں کی ضروریات کو پورا کرنے کے لئے نہیں کی جاتی بلکہ منافع اور شرح منافع کے حصول کے لئے کی جاتی ہے ۔ اسی وجہ سے سرمایہ داری کی تمام تر ترقی اور پیداواری صلاحیت میں بے پناہ اضافے کے باوجود دنیا بھر میں غربت ، بھوک، افلاس، بیماری اور جہالت میں مزید اضافہ ہورہاہے۔ جس کے خلاف ہمیں دنیا بھر میں احتجاجی تحریکیں نظر آتی ہیں۔ لوگ سرمایہ داری نظام کے پیدا کر دہ حالات سے تنگ آچکے ہیں اور ہمیں مختلف طریقوں سے اس کا اظہاربھی نظر آتا ہے ۔اس میں کوئی شک نہیں کہ پاکستان کے مزدور، کسان اور محنت کش بد ترین سرمایہ دارانہ استحصال کا شکار ہیں اور آئے روزان کی مشکلات میں اضافہ ہوتا چلا جارہا ہے۔ مگر سرمایہ دارانہ نظام میں اصلاحات کے نام پر کی جانے والی سیاست اور اس بنیاد پر کسی طرح کے بھی سیاسی عمل سے ان محنت کش طبقات کی وابستگی نہ ہونے کی ایک ہی وجہ ہو سکتی ہے کہ پاکستان کے محنت کش طبقات ان تمام سیاسی پارٹیوں کو اپنا نمائندہ نہیں سمجھتے اور نہ ہی ان کے سیاسی عمل کے نتیجے میں وہ اپنے مسائل کا حل دیکھتے ہیں۔ اس وجہ سے عوام ” آزادی“ اور ” انقلاب“ کے ناموں سے مارچ اور دھرنوں کا حصہ نہیں بنے۔ ماسوائے مڈل کلاس کی کچھ پرتوں سے کچھ لوگ اس جاری عمل کا حصہ ہیں۔ مگر ان کے ذریعے کسی طرح کے انقلاب اور کسی بنیادی تبدیلی کے کوئی امکانات نظر نہیں آتے۔

جس طرح ہم اس پر پہلے بھی بات کر چکے ہیں کہ انقلاب محض نعرے بازی کرنے سے یا پھر چند ہزار لوگوں کے دھرنے دے کر بیٹھ جانے سے نہیں آیا کرتے۔ انقلاب تو سماج کے معاشی ڈھانچے کو یکسر تبدیل کرکے ایک نئے معاشی نظام کی بنیادرکھنے کا نام ہے۔اس کے لیے تمام استحصال زدہ طبقات کو منظم ہوتے ہیں اور ایک انقلابی کال پر پورا ملک جام ہوجاتا ہے۔ تمام کارِ زندگی مفلوج ہو جاتے ہیں اور محنت کش عوام پورے سماج کے انتظامی امور اپنے ہاتھوں میں لے لیتے ہی۔

سرمایہ داری نظام میں تمام تر پیداوار مزدوروں، کسانوں اور محنت کشوں کی مرہونِ منت ہے اور وہی اس سماج میں
موجود ہر چیز کے خالق ہیں۔انہی کی محنت نے وہ تمام چیزیں بنائی ہیں جو ہمارے پاس اور ہمارے استعمال میں ہیں۔ حقیقی انقلاب اُس وقت آئے گا جب مزدور، کسان، محنت کش، نوجوان، طلباءاور دیگر استحصال زدہ طبقات منظم ہوکر طبقاتی بنیادوں پر قائم اس سرمایہ دارانہ نظام کو تبدیل کریں گے، اور اس کی جگہ معاشی، سماجی اور سیاسی برابری پر مبنی ایک غیر طبقاتی سماج کی تعمیر کریں گے۔

وائر س زدہ سیاسی روگ by Maqsood Mujahid

فیقا دانشور: پاکستان میں اقتدار اعلیٰ کبھی بھی اُس کے حقیقی وارثوں کو منتقل نہ ہوا۔ 1947ء سے 1958ء تک مسلم لیگی فیوڈل سیاسی نمائندے اور ورثہ میں ملی سول بیورو کریسی اقتدار اعلیٰ چند ہاتھوں میں یر غمال رکھنے کی مشق کرتے رہے اور ناکامی کے بعد جنرل ایوب خاں نے مارشل لاء لگا کر اقتدار اعلیٰ مقتدر قوتوں کے حوالے کر دیا۔ اور تب سے آج تک اقتدار اعلیٰ کے حقیقی وارث طاہرالقادری، عمران خان جیسے راہنماؤں کے چکر میں پڑے خوار ہورہے ہیں۔ حالانکہ سونامی اور شَیخ کا انقلاب تو وائرس زدہ سیاسی روگ کی علامتیں ہیں۔

بھا بشیر: بھجارتیں نہیں، یہ بتا کہ اقتدار اعلیٰ کے حقیقی وارث کون ہیں؟

فیقادانشور: جمہوریت عوام کے ذریعے عوام کے لئے اور جب عوام کی مرضی سے حکومتیں بنیں گی تو اقتدار اعلیٰ کے مالک عوام ہوں گے۔

بالاگولڈلیف: عوام سے مراد ہے میں اور تاجہ رکشا ڈرائیور وغیرہ وغیرہ! یعنی کے کمی کمین۔ یار فیقے بریانی کی پلیٹ پر ووٹ ڈالنے والے کبھی اقتدار اعلیٰ کے مالک ہو سکتے ہیں؟ میں تیری دانشوری کا قائل نہیں وہ بات کر جو سمجھ میں آئے۔

دتہ پہلوان: فیقا جی عوام دو قسم کے ہوتے ہیں ۔ ایک قسم میاں نواز، شہباز صاحب اور زرداری ، شاہ محمود قریشی، جہانگیر ترین حاضر اور ریٹائرڈ سول و آرمی کے اعلیٰ افسران۔ دوسری قسم ’’ تُوں تے مَیں‘‘۔

فیقا دانشور: مہربانی پہلوان جی تُسیں تے مشکل آسان کر دِتی۔ وائرس زدہ سیاسی روگ یہ ہے کہ اقتدار اعلیٰ وائرس زدہ سیاسی اشرافیہ یعنی کے عوام کی اعلیٰ پَرت نے اپنے قبضہ میں لے رکھا ہے۔ سیاسی روگ یہ ہے کہ بلدیاتی نظام کے ذریعے اقتدار اعلیٰ ضلع کی منتخب اسمبلی چھین لے اور 80فیصد غیر سائنسی علاج کروانے والوں کو سائنسی علاج مہیا ہو، غذائی قلت کا شکار 44فیصد بچوں کو غذائی قلت سے نکالا جائے، 70فیصد آبادی کو پینے کا صاف پانی میسر آئے، ڈھائی کروڑ بچے جو سکول کے نام سے بھی واقف نہیں ،وہ سکول جاسکیں، چارکروڑ سے زائد بے روزگاروں کو روزگار ملے، ہرسال معیشت میں داخل ہونے والے دس لاکھ نوجوانوں کے لئے روزگار کی سکیمیں بنیں ۔
وائرس زدہ سیاسی روگ کے حل کیلئے وائرس سے پاک افراد کہاں سے آئیں؟ چلو کچھ نہیں تو شَیخ کا’’ انقلاب ‘‘ اور ’’ سونامی‘‘ وائرس زدہ سیاسی روگ کی علامتیں ہی مان لوکچھ تو خلا پُر ہورہا ہے۔

فیقا دانشور: یہ علامتیں ہمیں پاکستان میں ہی نظر نہیں آتیں بلکہ اس سے پہلے امریکہ کے شہر سیاٹل ایک لاکھ افراد کا مجمع IMF کے اجلاس میں گھس کر فائلیں پھاڑ دیتا ہے، میکسیکو میں 50 لاکھ افراد کا جلوس، ملبورن میں بڑےIMF مظاہرے، مصر میں تحریر چوک میں ایک کروڑ افراد کا مجمع ، اور اس سے بھی پہلے عراق و افغانستان پر سامراجی حملے کے خلاف لندن میں 20 لاکھ اور روم میں 30 لاکھ افراد کا مجمع، اور پھر ’’ہم 99فیصد ہیں ‘‘ وال سٹریٹ سے لے کر دنیا کے 88 ممالک کے 900 شہروں میں چھوٹے بڑے احتجاجی مظاہرے ۔۔۔
یہ سب وائرس زدہ سیاسی روگ کی علامتیں ہیں جو کہ دنیا بھر میں نظر آئیں مگر ضرورت ہے کہ آج طبقات سے پاک معاشرے کی تحریک کو عالمی بنیادوں پر منظم کیا جائے۔۔ اور آج کے دور میں وہی تحریک کامیاب ہو گی جو غیر طبقاتی معاشرے کے قیام کے مقصد کو لیے ہوئے ہو گی۔۔۔ نئیں تے فیر روگ وہیں کا وہیں رہے گا۔


Vision of a Classless World by Jawad Ahmad

If the world was not as foolish as it is, there would have been no conflict, hostility and enmity between Gaza/Palestine and Israel, USA and Russia, Pakistan and India etc. It would have been one planet and one homeland for all human beings and a classless society irrespective of each one’s own faith, caste, gender, race, color, nationality, country or region, instead of a world essentially divided into poor and rich people. Rich Muslims and poor Muslims are not one. They can never be. The rich Muslims from the ruling or the employer class don’t befriend or marry into the poor or the working class Muslims. Same for rich Christians, Jews, Hindus and others. They are two different classes of which one is the oppressor and the other oppressed, in homes, factories, mills, industries, shops, markets, fields, roads and streets. According to a Turkish newspaper, Hurriet Daily News, one thousand Muslims are killed every day in this world and 90 percent of their killers are Muslims themselves.

In Pakistan, there is a 95 percent Muslim population in which poor Muslims are exploited by rich Muslims every day. The rich don’t really care for how their poor brother and sister workers, servants, peasants, employees and sub-ordinates live in inhumane conditions without proper food, clothing, shelter, health and education. Most of the poor Muslim children in Pakistan are malnourished and have stunted growth.  85 percent poor Muslims here are subjects of their 15 percent elite and middle class masters.  For that matter, a poor Muslim and a poor Hindu is treated the same way by a rich Muslim or a rich Hindu. Can any nation divided into poor and rich ever stand together or stay united, as one? It is a farce and false, ugly and manipulative rhetoric projected and promoted by the ruling classes, governments, state institutions and bourgeois media of the world. Muslims living in Pakistan oppress, exploit, rob, steal from, kill each other and rape other Muslim brothers’ daughters, mothers, sisters and wives.
In Pakistan, Palestine, Israel and India the problem does not lie in religion but in class divide, hunger, poverty, un-resourcefulness and lack of education and health facilities and a decent employment. Do you know that more than 50 percent of Israeli Jews are poor and oppressed and at the mercy of their government just as much as Palestinians are at theirs? There is a huge unemployment and underemployment in Israel and people have to resort to strikes and protests there too, sometimes on mass scales. Since their government cannot provide them with prosperous livelihood, it creates such issues as Israel versus Palestine and Jews versus Muslims. All the Jews in the world are not rich. Majority of them are poor or just ordinary middle class people. All of them don’t own or run banks. Only the very few rich do. But so do the few rich Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and others all over the world. They all make their money from interest, rent and profit regardless of their respective faiths or religions. This world is actually divided only into rich and poor. All the other differences are not real but artificially created and fabricated by the ruling classes, capitalists, military complexes and governments of the world, so that the class issue of rich and poor does not arise and remains sidelined, unaddressed, ignored, undermined, belittled, neglected, covered up, hidden and buried. Real world does not run according to our inherited beliefs. It will only change when we will try to be more kind, sympathetic, compassionate and caring towards all human beings rather than being unkind, selfish, egoistic and fanatic bigots, and above all, be sane, rational and scientific in our approach towards life and its economic and social processes. All of us! Only a world revolution to eliminate the existing class based capitalist system will be able to do that and will secure a peaceful and prosperous world for all. It is very much possible in this world of such a huge productive capacity and abundance of wealth and resources. According to a report by Oxfam, a credible social organization, the 100 richest people of the world are so wealthy that they can end global poverty four times over. This planet’s capacity to produce is more than enough for 21 billion people when in fact the total population of this world is only 7 billion. But in a world with such abundance of resources and facilities, majority of the people are poor, helpless and un-resourceful. This is the kind of world that we are all living in. The ultimate change for EQUALITY of human beings in all aspects and spheres of life is only possible through an organized global human struggle which each one of us is willing to start and be a part of in one’s own country. Let’s spread this message and work collectively to build a classless global human society. We have a dream of ‘equal benefits for all’ and equal access of all to all that is grown, produced and found in this world. It is very much possible only if we believe in the infallible human spirit and its indigenous drive and constant longing for economic and social justice which is only possible through economic equality based on equitable distribution of wealth and resources. From each according to one’s capacity and will and to each according to one’s needs and wishes.

Educational Apartheid in Pakistan by Shahnaz Khan

The word apartheid became well known when it was used in South Africa to discriminate against non-Europeans. Its most vicious aspect was Bantu Education Act.  Frances Baard, as activist, summed up its impact, “Bantu Education Act was to make sure that our children only learnt things that would make them good for what the government want: to work in factories and so on; they must not learn properly at school like the white children.  Our children were to go to school only three hours a day, two shifts of children every day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, so that more children could get a little bit of learning without government having to spend more money. It was a terrible thing.
The Minister of Native Affairs, Dr. Verwoerd shamelessly declared, “There is no space for him (the Native) in the European Community above a certain form of labor.  For this reason it is of no avail for him to receive training which has its aim in the absorption of the European Community where he cannot be absorbed.”
In Pakistan the education system is supposedly open to all but in practice there is a de facto segregation/discrimination based on the economic class of the students and it has been successfully implemented for almost 70 years. Education is touted to be a great equalizer of social and economic inequality, promised to create a level playing field.  I dare to say that it is a big lie.

Akhtar Hassan Malik, in his thesis for University of Toronto says about Bourdieu’s Theory of Social Reproduction, “His (Bourdieu) main concern was the intimate relationship between class, culture, and power in modern advanced capitalist societies.  Accordingly, Bourdieu argues that education is the space where practices tend to legitimize social difference and inequalities and where the regulation of access to resources is ideologically constructed. He further argues that institutionalization of education has allowed for the regulation of knowledge and the agents who are in power tend to assert social control, social selection, and symbolic domination. The materials produced for education (e.g. curriculum/ textbooks) and educational practices (e.g. pedagogy/evaluation) are all used to reproduce a regime of social hierarchy”

My focus in this space is not to lament about the pathetically low literacy rate, non-existent or ghost schools, absent teachers, abysmally low allocation of funds to education in the budget or even a criminal neglect on part of the ruling elite towards this critical pathway to progress.  Rather, the points I want to make are: a) the current education system perpetuates poverty and class divide b) ruling class has intentionally kept it this way and c) it will inevitably lead to discontent, anger and resentment of the dispossessed which is bound to explode some day.
Let me illustrate this. Imagine an average government school: no washroom facilities, no drinking water, shortage of material resources, poorly trained and absent teachers, lack of teaching aids, and large teacher to student ratio.  Who attends these schools? Poor and working class children.

Now imagine an elite English medium school: air-conditioned classrooms, computers, science labs, sports activities, exposure to arts and literature, well trained teachers and well equipped classrooms.  Who attends these schools?  Rich, elite and ruling class children: politicians, top army brass, feudal lord and top bureaucrats.

Is there any question which group of children is being groomed and trained to be the next rulers of the country? That the child who goes to the public school will never be able to compete with the one who attends the elite school?  That 80 per cent of children are being trained to be low skilled laborers? And is there any question if you belong to working class, you cannot even dream of attending elite school? Is it any different than what Dr. Verwoerd announced in South Africa?
Ironically the most subservient class in pre-colonial days which was amply rewarded by the colonial masters with lands and unlimited powers to rule over their people to the extent of forcibly drafting young men for colonial wars, became the ruling class after independence—or shall we say, after 1947, because for majority of people independence is a meaningless word.  Freedom, sovereignty, independence are useless unless there is freedom from want, poverty, hunger, and disease along with dignity, freedom of expression and equality—equality to make choices, of access to opportunity, of right over resources.  This curse of two tiered education system is a gift of British which was set up for the express purpose of creating an elite class who would rule the natives faithfully in their name. It was eagerly adopted and is doggedly protected by the ‘brown sahibs’.  This strategy has kept them in power all these years and they have no intention of changing it.  It has created a self perpetuating cycle of rich becoming richer and poor getting poorer. According to Shahid Javed Burki in “How rich are the Pakistani rich”, the super rich 18,000 people have a combined income of $1.31 billion or $72,000 per capita, while the poorest 10 per cent receive only 4 per cent of total income or $400 per capita.  Thus the super rich earn in just two days what it takes the poor to earn in one year. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that it is hard earned money. They do it through tax evasion, graft, interest, rent seeking, corruption and nepotism.

Dr. Ishrat Hussain, a well known economist, argues, “One of the reasons this elitist model is sustained is a dormant and subservient population that is passive and indifferent to the actions of the leaders and bureaucracy.”  I would like to say that anyone who believes the dormant and subservient class will always stay that way has to only look at recent world events. To believe that those who are being kept suppressed and oppressed have lost the power of feeling and thinking or do not resent this treatment is a fatal mistake on the part of the ruling class.  We are witnessing a worldwide awakening of masses. True, that for now they are disorganized, directionless and without effective leadership, but it will change. And Pakistan is not immune.  Whereas globalization has created many problems, it has also connected people through various means.  The masses will eventually unite and rise, when it finally dawns on them, “It is the economy, stupid”.