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Farewell to George Fulton

Is Pakistan a livable country? That is the question in the minds of many Pakistanis. Most of whom had no choice in deciding to be a Pakistani citizen. Whereas George Fulton – who we all recognize from “George ka Pakistan” – had that choice. A man who embraced Pakistan and became one of its citizen, is now finding it hard to even reside in his adopted homeland. It is sad but not shocking, as he departs Pakistan for a better future for himself and his family, he leaves us all with a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In a series of articles, he has described some of the unfortunate realities of Pakistan, which are worth the attention of all who love their country – Pakistan.

From the series of “George ka khuda hafiz” articles on Express Trubune, his second article goes something like this (Anas Muhammad):

From the moment I arrived in Pakistan nine years ago, the omnipotence of the military apparatus was self-evident. Yet, as I leave, it’s apparent it will be this institution, more than any other, that will be the catalyst of this country’s eventual downfall. As Pervez Hoodbhoy recently pointed out, rather than acting as a factor for détente in the region, our acquiring the nuclear bomb in 1998 exacerbated our military arrogance. Kargil, the attack on India’s Parliament and, more recently, Mumbai have all occurred since we got the bomb — attacks that couldn’t have been carried out without some military/intelligence involvement.

And yet, ironically, the military’s regional self-importance belies our chronic servitude to the US. In addition to being the largest landowner in Pakistan, the Pakistani Army is the world’s largest mercenary army. Look at the media storm created over the Kerry-Lugar Bill for it’s supposed slight to Pakistani sovereignty. Yet it is the army’s reliance on US military aid that has made Pakistan a client state of the US. This inherent contradiction is not disseminated in the media. Instead, the established narrative for our acquiescence to the US is laid firmly at the weakness of our political class. As if it was the politicians — and not the military leadership — who somehow control Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Of course the military/religious right in Pakistan use their proxies in the media to blame the Hindus, Americans and Jews for all our sins. But those sins are mostly ours. Atiqa Odho, a friend, and someone who truly wants the best for Pakistan, sent me a text message after the detention by India customs of singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. “Rahat Ali Khan is not a criminal, he has become a victim of corrupt trade practices in India that have singled him out to target the soft image of Pakistan… Let’s not treat a music icon who has million of fans over the world as a common criminal.” The text had it all: hyper-patriotism, paranoia, absolution of responsibility, and a shot of snobbery. Why shouldn’t he be treated as a common criminal if he was avoiding tax? The attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team wasn’t a foreign hand. It was a Pakistani hand. Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir were not brought down by some covert Anglo/India plot, but by their own avarice. They cheated.

But the right’s hyper-nationalism is perhaps more tolerable than the liberal elite’s disengagement and insouciance. Like the right, the liberal elite believe all Pakistan’s woes belong to others. But rather than theHindu/US/Zionist paranoia of the right, the liberals put the blame on the mullahs, the masses, the uneducated and the unwashed — anyone, but themselves. We — and I include myself here, as this was my social milieu for the past nine years — are unaware of our own hypocrisy.

My friends will condemn the cricketers, but not the society that actively encourages these lower middle-class boys to cheat. But why would they? Their families have gorged and benefitted from this society. Recently, at a coffee shop, I overheard a society Begum, decked out in designer clothes and glasses, bemoan the cricketing scandal. Her ire was primarily directed at the boys for bringing Pakistan’s ‘good’ name into disrepute — not the cheating itself. She then harked back to a time when the Pakistan cricket team spoke English well, as if good English equalled with moral rectitude. But does she question how her husband makes his money? For every Rs100 collected by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in taxes, it misses another Rs79 due to tax evasion. The FBR estimates that the total revenue lost by the government as a result of tax evasion comes out to Rs1.27 trillion for this fiscal year and is equal to eight per cent of the GDP. According to the FBR, over 70 per cent of all taxes evaded are corporate income taxes. What’s the difference between Salman Butt screwing his country for money and the rest of us?

But the liberal elite is a misnomer. We aren’t really liberal. We want the liberal values of free speech and rule of law, without wanting to instil the economic and democratic mechanisms to ensure them. We espouse liberalism but don’t practice the egalitarian values — distribution of power and wealth — that underpin liberalism.

But then, the English liberal ‘elite’ has abdicated all responsibility to govern in the past 60 years. Despite enjoying unprecedented levels of wealth and education, we no longer believe it is our duty as the best educated and most privileged in society to contribute to its development. The English language has created a linguistic Berlin Wall between us and the rest of the country. We remain cosseted inside our bubble. Instead, we have ceded political space to a reactionary, conservative, military, feudal and religious nexus. Tolerating this because, in turn, they have left us alone. They have allowed us freedoms that the rest of the country doesn’t have.Freedom to get obscenely wealthy. Freedom to party at Rs10,000-a-ticket balls. Freedom to dress how we like. But these freedoms come at a price. A Faustian pact has been signed.

Even Pakistan’s intellectual elite has largely abandoned its responsibility. An ideological vacuum occurred after 1971, when the ‘idea of Pakistan’ and the two-state solution failed. What filled the vacuum over the succeeding decades have been a variety of parties with their own vested self-interests — Ziaul Haq, Islamists, the Saudis and the US — trying toenforce their own idea of Pakistan. Today, our intellectual elite are too compromised — suckling on the teat of donor money, scholarships and exchange programmes — to challenge the US narrative.

Unfortunately, no one is immune to the ills that this country subjects its citizens to. I have changed. Slowly, my values and morals have corroded. But I don’t want that for my one-year-old boy, Faiz. I want him to grow up in a society where guns are not an everyday occurrence and his parents can openly hold hands.

After Salmaan Taseer’s assassination, my mother-in-law — a hardworking, decent school principal, who was born in Bombay and had grown up in Dhaka before migrating to Pakistan — called me up. She had seen three of her children leave Pakistan during the past 20 years. My wife was the last one remaining. As she spoke, she sounded defeated: “George, just jao. Jao”. So now I am going. Khuda hafiz, Pakistan.

About the author

Anas

13 Comments

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  • 100% right is what George has written, but the problem is who will admit all this? We are in self denial always.

  • No place for peace loving people in Pakistan. We have become hostages in the hands of extremists religious-cum-Military Mafia in Pakistan.

  • Is Pakistan a livable country? NO. It is not with the policies of Gen. Zia legacy, if we want to be a livable then we have to adopt the path of M. A. Jinnah (Founder of Pakistan) which he explained in his speech on August 11, 1947. George has white skin but with our color of skin, it is not possible to live.

  • I was here to say – shut up George and leave! I now want to say – Leaving so soon?

  • Nothing could be a better certificate to George’s honesty if Ahmed Quraishi / Ghalib Sultan are attacking him:

    ……

    An Englishman’s Anti-Pakistan Rant
    Posted by Web Editor on Mar 3rd, 2011

    http://www.ahmedquraishi.com/2011/03/03/an-englishman%E2%80%99s-anti-pakistan-rant/

    An anti-Pakistan racist, George Fulton and his Pakistani wife were turned into highly-paid and high-flying celebrities by Pakistani television networks. A previous government naturalized him as a goodwill gesture. Now he pays back the favor by calling Pakistanis ‘degenerates’ and pooping on the country.

    GHALIB SULTAN
    3 March 2011
    | ZoneAsia-Pk.com
    http://WWW.PAKNATIONALISTS.COM

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—George Fulton, a.k.a. George the foreigner, who became a Pakistani citizen thanks to a dictator’s Prime Minister, has been true to form. After nine years, he has written two columns (Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune March 2 and 3) to say Khuda-Hafiz in our words, and Good-bye in his, to Pakistan.
    In these columns, he has castigated Pakistan’s military and intelligence services and the ‘mullahs’, implying a nexus between the three that, in his opinion, is harming Pakistan. This is what most westerners say, and they say so when their designs are thwarted and they come up against the bulwark that defends Pakistan, and in doing so, earns their wrath. What Pakistanis consider as their assets are made out to be liabilities and attacked relentlessly. Small wonder that our larger eastern neighbor, and the Western-backed segments on our western border, join the chorus; even adding new twists and insinuations. George ‘the ex-Pakistani’ is no exception.
    To be fair to the Pakistani George (assuming that he has not turned in his citizenship) he has some good things to say about Pakistan—at least about those with whom he could relate and interact. He does not say anything about the brutal massacres of Muslims and Christians in India by crazed fanatic Hindu mobs, which thank God has no parallels in Pakistan.

    Nor does he talk about the brutality of the Hindu-dominated military and para-military forces in Kashmir—the rapes, the tortures and the killings. These do shape opinions and reactions in Pakistan even if the naked aggression by India that broke Pakistan in two 1971 is forgotten—not that it is or ever will be.

    He is critical of our nuclear weapons but says nothing about what drove Pakistan to get them. He writes about Pakistani society but this society is no different from societies elsewhere in the world—all have warts, injustices, corruption, vice, drugs, violence, exploitation, haves and have-nots; the good, the bad and the ugly. And like many other societies, Pakistan is going through a transitional phase.

    This does not say that there are no problems in Pakistan. There are serious problems that the state is addressing against great odds. The average Pakistani, like the average person in all other countries, wants peace, security, health care, education and the opportunity to work and play without fear for the security of his loved ones. It is the resilience of this average Pakistani that has enabled the state of Pakistan to survive and make progress.

    Fulton, while fulminating, did not have much to say on this. He also seems to have forgotten that the destabilization and radicalization of Pakistan is in direct proportion to the US/NATO aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan without any reason—in fact, on the basis of distorted facts and often outright lies. Small wonder then, that the US and NATO stock is so low in the Muslim countries—and falling.

    Khuda-Hafiz George, and may you be safe from dangers wherever you go to find what you did not find in Pakistan.

    Pakistanis will not miss you.

    Extracted from the original post published by ZoneAsia-Pk.com
    © 2007-2011. All rights reserved. Paknationalists.com

  • Did Ahmed Quraishi and co attack George Fulton because of this?

    Purveyors of fiction
    By George Fulton
    Published: December 16, 2010

    For those who don’t know Ahmad Quraishi, according to his website — ahmedquraishi.com — he is “a public policy writer, commentator and broadcaster”. In reality, he is widely known to be a crude propagandist for the army/intelligence nexus. At least Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda films had artistic value. Noxious, yes, but art nonetheless. Sadly, no such claim can be made of Quraishi’s leaden prosaic prose.
    He is also “one of the founders of PakNationalists, a supposed forum focusing on shaping Pakistan’s foreign and domestic policy options”. Actually it’s an anti-India bile-spewing machine that spreads untruths, smears and uncorroborated stories. His most recent article on his website, entitled “Guardian uses WikliLeaks for Propaganda, Pakistani Media Can’t?” is an astonishing convoluted defence of the fake cable that was exposed by Cafe Pyala and subsequently picked up by the Guardian correspondent, Declan Walsh and this newspaper’s blog section. The phrase ‘twisting in the wind’ comes to mind.
    Quraishi begins by attempting to undermine the original story of the fake cable: “(The) Guardian’s Islamabad correspondent Declan Walsh claimed the stories were ‘credited to the Online Agency, an Islamabad-based news service that has frequently run pro-army stories in the past. No journalist is bylined’. Fabulous, only that it is not accurate. The story was published by the ‘Daily Mail of Pakistan’, a newspaper launched recently and staffed by journalists coming from the newsrooms of Pakistan’s frontrow newspapers.”
    He goes on to say: “A large part of the original Pakistani report is credible. It was published by a prominent news organisation and the story has four names in the byline. The Guardian unethically tried to link the story to Pakistani intelligence agencies by suggesting the story comes with ‘no byline’ and can’t be sourced. The Guardian’s Mr Walsh compensated his lack of investigation by offering his own conspiracy theory that the report was planted by Pakistani intelligence agencies.”
    Let’s state some facts. All the newspapers that ran the story did credit it to the Online news agency. No byline was given by any newspaper. It cannot be sourced. Ah, but what about this ‘Daily Mail of Pakistan’ that he quotes. Unfortunately, this is not an authentic newspaper but one that peddles propaganda. (It was ‘The Daily Mail of Pakistan’ that planted the bogus story that the Pakistan spot-fixing scandal was orchestrated by the Indian intelligence agency RAW.)
    What about the bylines Mr Quraishi mentions on the ‘Daily Mail of Pakistan’ website? It’s true that the fake cable story is bylined “From Suzie Wang in Washington, Christina Palmer in New Delhi, John Nelson in Kabul and Ahmad-Almurad in Cairo”. The only problem is that these people don’t exist. They are figments of his imagination. I would love to meet Suzie Wang from Washington and Christina Palmer who apparently works in New Delhi.
    Yes, it’s highly likely that the ‘Daily Mail of Pakistan’ — and all these other bogus websites (again Cafe Pyala has done a brilliant expose of these bogus sites) — are probably paid for by a budget that we, as taxpayers, and our elected officials do not have permission to scrutinise. Good to know, isn’t it.
    So the question that comes to mind is: what is the point of Ahmed Quraishi’s article? He has been proven to peddle half-truths and misinformation on some rather shady websites. As a self-described nationalist, I am sure he would defend what he was doing as being for the greater good of Pakistan and its people. But I subscribe to Charles De Gaulle’s view of nationalists and nationalism: “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” Mr Quraishi is a hate-monger. One must also wonder how much Mr Quraishi really loves the people of this country since he seems to make a living peddling half-truths to them.
    Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2010.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/91026/purveyors-of-fiction/

  • George was never a Pakistani. He was a Brit. I am a Pakistani who lived in US for 26 years and came back to Pakistan. I have lived here for few years and think my soil is the best in the world. There is no place like Pakistan and people are Pakistan are the best in the world. We don’t need anyone telling us that we are failed State and constantly makes references to India. Why India is not failed state for persecuting Kashmiris, Sikhs, Muslims and Dalit? Why not western countries to break every international law and attack countries based on false information and kills millions? George has a selective memory just like his fellow westerners. I still wish him best of luck. We will continue to built Pakistan and fight extremists within our borders and outside. Pak army assures us our freedom and a true Pakistani will never utter a word against those who put their life on the line for us.

  • Hey there! I’ve been following your weblog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Texas!

  • @Hamid Baloch.. I too live far from my homeland and miss it but this is the time we need to be realistic. We need to accept the realities. Please take these comments positively and bring a change in Pakistan. Peace.

  • living for about 10 years in US, I would agree with George on many points.But Pakistan was founded on a Ideology called ISLAM.MA Jinnah and Allama Iqbal(R.A) never wanted a secular state. Lets go back to the roots of Islam we have to absolutely follow Iqbal’s vision.Majority of Pakistani people want a TOLERANT ISLAMIC State where minorities have full rights. Something like Lebanon would be considered as best formula for Pakistan. Ameen

  • LEBANON is a parliamentary democracy, which implements a special system known as confessionalism.[67] This system is intended to deter sectarian conflict and attempts to fairly represent the demographic distribution of the 18 recognized religious groups in government.[68][69] High-ranking offices are reserved for members of specific religious groups. The President, for example, has to be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shi’a Muslim, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Greek Orthodox.[70][71]