By Junaid S. Ahmad
94-year old Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, himself a highly respected Muslim leader despite failings of his own during a long political career, really took affection to our Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan when the latter visited Malaysia. It was clear that Dr. Mahathir immediately picked up that this would be a promising Muslim leader in a sea of mostly ineffectual pawns and puppets. After our PM’s UN speech, the bonds grew stronger. Along with Dr. Mahathir and Erdogan in Turkey, our PM boldly asserted an initiative to combat Islamophobia and did not tire of mentioning these two Muslim leaders as ones he admires greatly.
And now, our beloved PM decides to abandon an incredibly important summit – all at the strict orders of the House of One Saud. The joke on our beloved PM is that his friend MBS is aligned with the most Islamophobic countries and international networks of the Anglo-Zionist empire from where MBS takes his orders.
Our beloved PM has been praised endlessly for his eloquent and passionate defense of the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination and liberation from Indian state terror. On the issue of Kashmir, the two other countries that spoke most vocally about India’s unacceptable behavior were Turkey and Malaysia, despite whatever economic losses they would suffer in their ties with New Delhi.
And the country that seemed like it had to be first in a marathon race to bless the annexation of Kashmir by India was that of the House of ONE Saud
Our beloved PM, who we thought had incredible vision on both domestic and international fronts from his UN speech, has now displayed behavior that could very well be the definitive turning point in deciding whether he has the courage to actually practice what he preaches, or is just verging on pure opportunistic realpolitik. Such action was not expected from this man.
If this disgraceful humiliation of a well-respected Muslim leader like Dr. Mahathir was done by previous jokers and thieves that ran this country, no one would have batted an eyelid. The fact that many of us sincere critical supporters of our beloved PM, not necessarily his incompetent and corrupt party members, had to see this day is more painful that the beloved PM will ever know.
I wonder how someone whose heart has for the better part of his life seemed like it was in the right place – a man whose mother’s return to her Creator precipitated him to construct a world-class Cancer hospital in her name – I wonder how she looks down upon him now that he has disgustingly treated a 94-year old man convening a summit in Kuala Lumpur in keen excitement for the arrival of the Pakistani leader that he admired so much and virtually treated like a son.
Our beloved PM was keen to speak of not being an ‘America’s hired gun’ anymore. It was a catchy line, and all of us who deeply abhorred the death and destruction unleashed by the ‘war on terror’ supported him wholeheartedly on that.
But all that feels like rhetorical flourishing and political posturing, rather than any principled affirmation of sovereignty and dignity of the nation. It’s crystal clear that our beloved PM is willing to be the House of One Saud’s ‘hired gun’ and quisling – which in effect means that nothing has changed: the Saudi-UAE-Israel-US nexus is one, and if you’re a ‘hired gun’ for one, you are a ‘hired gun’ for the rest. And despite the laudable Pakistani decision of not explicitly participating in the Saudi slaughter of Yemen in 2015, what does it mean for our beloved PM to commit to defending the holy city of Mecca at this point in time? It means to defend a Las Vegas in the dessert with the only thing visible being luxury hotels and shopping malls – all of this ostensibly called a holy pilgrimage. The man speaks of our religion, our culture, our heritage. The House of ONE Saud is not that place.
And on the topic of the Saudi-UAE launch of the war in Yemen, does our beloved PM have historical amnesia about what language was used against Pakistan when Islamabad decided to opt out? How many times have the Turks or the Malaysians threatened to ‘teach you a lesson’ (as the reactionary royals pontificated to Pakistan at the time) – if Islamabad did not agree to help them slaughter a neighboring country (in this case, Yemen)?
Though much of history is determined by all sorts of forces and not by elite individuals just being the movers and shakers, there are exceptions. The German philosopher Hegel, with all of his Eurocentric biases, may have had a point that at certain historical junctures, there are destined to be world-historical figures that can serve a significant purpose in moving the ‘march of history’ forward – or backward!
The rapidly shifting global geopolitical order is one in which, arguably, a Donald Trump can be considered one of those figures whose essential task is to accelerate an already unfolding situation: the collapse of the American empire and the ushering in of an age of transition which will be chaotic and unpredictable, but certainly multipolar.
Within Muslimistan, though it may be a stretch, the man in charge in Pakistan could have – should have – precisely played this Hegelian role. With the charisma and global standing he had achieved, despite whatever domestic failings may have existed in his short time in power, he had the historic opportunity to accelerate the unraveling of the Anglo-Zionist empire by completely annihilating old Cold War constraints and de-linking from imperial petromonarchy stooges that consider his people as scum to be super-exploited and enslaved. Our PM could have been part of a meaningful Islamicate project, with partner nations that maintain tremendous dignity – something that would have challenged the reactionary hegemony of the House of Saud lasting for over half a century now.
The irony is that the man we thought was a man of steel, a man who could not be bought, freely chose to enslave himself when his poor compatriots who have to work as migrant laborers have no choice but to submit to the political tyranny of the House of ONE Saud. But our beloved PM has willingly subordinated himself. And that, too, in the most comical way possible. Days before this KL Summit, it is so evidently obvious to anyone with even half a functioning brain cell that he has been summoned by reactionary royals in Bahrain and Saudi to command him not to go. Does the man think his people – the people he says he loves so much and for whom he desires justice so badly – are so dumb as to not see what happened?
And the laughable, primary school explanation our beloved PM has to offer: what will be done, i.e. whether he participates or not, will be in the ‘national interest.’ Such a lovely phrase that is because it’s so remarkably easy to unpack. The ‘national interest’ is doing sajjadah to a Mohammad ‘Bonesaw’ (remember our friend Kashoggi?) Salman whose every command must be treated like a revelation from the Almighty. Perhaps our beloved PM has a fetish to enact a Saad Hariri (former Lebanese PM) part deux, where, like Hariri, our beloved PM also visits his friend MBS and then all of a sudden finds himself kidnapped by his ‘friend’ only to be told to read a prepared script on Arab TV about whatever MBS wants him to say.
The nations and the leaders that are attending this KL summit: Turkey, Iran, Qatar, and Malaysia – all have been subject to intense levels of threats of economic devastation and invasions by the Empire but have never abandoned their dignity and simply ignored whatever rigmarole is vomited endlessly from Washington and European capitals. Turkey’s economy was just threatened with utter devastation. It was like Erdogan didn’t even hear or at least care about the American threat. Iran confronts daily illegal warmongering threats from the US and Israel, not to mention its Saudi puppet, and faces the most grueling economic sanctions possible, but the nation and its leader have dignity and will not bow down if they are being victimized for a crime that the US committed – unilaterally and unlawfully withdrawing from the Iran nuclear accord that took years and years to accomplish.
And Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country of 220 million and a conventional military force larger than all of these other countries, submits slavishly when it comes to the House of ONE Saud. Things should have been different under our new beloved PM, but clearly th are not.
Even two fierce enemies over the past Syrian tragic fiasco finally agreed to put aside their differences to ensure that Mahathir’s goodwill gesture in the form of this Summit would be a meaningful step to defend and protect the interests, sovereignty, autonomy, and dignity of Muslimistan from the cruelties and injustices to which it has incessantly been subjected, most often with the connivance of the Islamophobic regimes of the House of ONE Saud, the Emiratis, and the totalitarian fiefdom of Sisi in Egypt.
There is a scene in the excellent film, The General’s Daughter, where the chief protagonist, a military attorney (John Travolta), frustratingly grills another decent senior military official behind bars about what type of crime happened to force the general’s daughter to submit herself to virtual suicidal murder. Travolta lays out the usual heinous crimes: murder, rape, etc. The military official says no to all of Travolta’s attempted answers, and dies before he can reveal the answer himself. But Travolta discovers it at the end. The general’s daughter, a superb military officer, was gruesomely gang-raped by others in her regimen during a training exercise. The general is informed of the news and comes immediately to the hospital, only to take his ‘higher-ups’ advice to not publicize this ‘event’ and to just tell the daughter to ‘forget about what happened.’
Travolta then discovers what the military official meant when asserting that yes, indeed, there can be something worse than murder or rape or any other heinous act: the act of betrayal by a trusted and loved one
It may seem harsh, not only to Pakistanis who adored the man for his integrity, but to all Muslimistan, to respected Muslim leaders like Dr. Mahathir, this was betrayal. And it may be the biggest unethical blunder he has made in an otherwise extraordinarily admirable career in cricket, social welfare, and politics. There could not have been a graver let-down than what the man has decided (or has had decided for him), and his world-historical possibility to reorder the Muslim world to really alleviate the pain and suffering of the social majorities throughout the Islamicate world should really cause him some sleepless nights, if he is a man with a good soul – which many of us believe he is.
23 December 2019
Junaid S. Ahmad teaches Islam and Decolonial Thought and is the Director of the Center for Global Studies at the University of Management and Technology, Pakistan. He is a JUST member.