Is Pakistan still a colony ruled by the white man’s supremacy?

Published: March 5, 2017

We cannot wait for another nation to stigmatise us as inferior because with everything that we do, we have labelled ourselves as such already.

As I waited outside the Head of Department’s office at my university for the sixth time in a week, I started thinking. I wondered what made someone attach so much importance to themselves that they felt the need to berate others in order to recognise their authority. This made me speculate; is Pakistan still a colony ruled by the white man’s supremacy?

Have we honestly never recovered from the imperialistic practices of the West? Does the ordinary Pakistani citizen try to exert the ‘white man’s burden’, knowing fully well that he is of colour? The answer is yes!

You see when an area is colonised, it is not just the people who suffer; it is also the environment, the nature, the language, the culture and most importantly, the thought that undergoes a lasting revolution. Some have the privilege of recovering; unfortunately, we did not.

Every year on the August 14, we mount our flags up high and our pride even higher to highlight the fact that the white man rules us no longer. We are free, independent, masters of our own fate. The truth, however, is that the white man left us, but he never truly left us. What led to the Partition in 1947 was not the mere fact that Muslims were under oppression. It was because our ancestors realised that the Muslim heritage was under threat and that everything they attached to themselves in the form of identity was dissolving into thin air. And who are you when your identity is stripped away from you? Nothing but a deliberate fragmentation of reality, an apparition, a chapter in someone else’s book, a kingdom that once was. Nothing.

Hence, in an attempt to safeguard this identity, our ancestors put everything to risk. The lives of their six-month-old babies, the virginities of their innocent daughters, the integrity of their elders who were still striving for the fallen Mughal empire, the courtyards that danced with the aroma of fresh chapatis made with a mother’s love, the fresh jowar fields where they saw the love of their lives for the very first time. Everything. And it finally paid off.

However, we as a nation have caused more harm to this very identity than anyone else has. Every institution seeking to hire lists fluency in English as one of the basic requirements. Interviews are conducted in English, by men dressed in English. We devour the foreign language as if our sustenance depends on it. We eagerly take out our dyes on holi, roses on Valentines, costumes on Halloween, and fireworks on New Years without realising that the average white man has the legal right to charge Muslims for animal cruelty on Eidul Azha.

Why is it that politician’s children, roughly the same age as you, have four security cars, loaded with security guards whereas you are forced to travel on a motorbike with nothing more than a helmet for protection? What have they done to ensure that their life is more valuable than yours? It is the mere veracity that they are born in privilege; the same privilege that once dismantled the subcontinent under the white man’s watch.

Seamus Heaney, in one of his poems, said,

“You carried your own burden and very soon, your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared”.

Using the word ‘symptom’ for privilege, he defined it as a disease, which is what it really is, for it has created divisions within our community. But what has given birth to this disease of imitating the West? It is the fact that our thoughts are not ours to flaunt anymore. They are mere reflections of what we are fed by the externalities; the media being the biggest culprit. Why is it that an English literature course would be stuffed with Shakespearean classics but it would never talk about Mohsin Hamid or Mohammad Hanif? We cannot wait for another nation to stigmatise us as inferior because with everything that we do, we have labelled ourselves as such already.

So while I waited outside the Head of Department’s office at my university for the sixth time in a week, I saw through the frosted window. I saw a power-greedy coloniser in a woman’s disguise, wearing a crispy white shalwar kameez with a floral dupatta and red peep-toes, casually sipping tea as she refused to meet with me.

But then I saw I saw my own reflection in that frosted window, and all of a sudden, I was not angry anymore. In that moment, I realised that we are all white men, just a privilege away from exercising the same control that is slowly driving us to forget humanity as we know it.


Izzah Imran

The author is a literary enthusiast, who, in the pursuit of her love for words has surpassed all known notions of tangiblity and sanity.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ramesh Kumar

    The author is a literary enthusiast, who, in the pursuit of her love for words has surpassed all known notions of tangiblity and sanity.
    Very interesting self-portrait.Recommend

  • digital nomad

    Lol, commenting on “White man” influence, yet using verbose English. Does the author understand what an oxymoron that is? Talk about confused!Recommend

  • Rohan

    Muslims were never under oppression and that certainly didn’t lead to the partitionRecommend

  • puffy1

    lets get the right map first then we can discuss.Recommend

  • silver

    Why isn’t indian occupied kashmir shown part of Pakistan! Tribune please rectify your mistake immediately!Recommend

  • Parvez

    Heroic attempt…… what I understood is that we should blame ourselves for our weaknesses and not put it on others ( and I fully agree )……I hope I’m right.Recommend

  • Kamran Vardag

    It is a true reflection of our post colonial society. I would suggest you pursue how to decolonize our minds and culture. Efforts in other similar countries may be a guide. Waiting for another article!Recommend

  • Musa Khan

    Well done. You made it clear to me.Recommend

  • Khan

    Don’t know about the White man’s supremacy over state of Paksitan, but on Pakistanis, for sure. White man made sure to colonize Pakistani mentality. The women wearing western clothing, going semi naked, and guys trying to speak incorrect English and taking pride in it. The so called modernization is actually westernization of the society. Unfortunately we lost the faith in our values and culture.Recommend

  • Pakistan

    Good question. But nobody will answer for obvious self interest. Daughter & sons have escaped and awaiting final judgement.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    The lady author means well but thinks in error mainly because of the incorrect assumptions. Pakistan and India gined their independence not because of the peoples struggle but on account of the agreement between the Soviet Union and the USA to fight the third reich on the condition that the European countries including the UK will grant independence to their colonies. The fact that most of Pakistan territory was ruled for two centuries also means that it will now require at least two centuries to regain their cultural heritage including its languages. The country needs competence to regain what it lost during the period of colonisation but one cannot repeal without a replacement. What does the Lady want to propose in this regard first, decolonise the army or the civil laws or the education system?

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Hidayat Rizvi

    China don’t have a vibrant democracy, it’s a country that opposes diversity. China is a communist country dominated by Han Chinese. Republicans, nationalist, tecnocrates, intelegentia and other groups were largely defeated after Chinese civil war and most of them lost their life or got exiled to Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia etc. Chinese population consist mostly of industrial workers, again dominated Han Chinese. Imagine India with one language, one ethnic group, one party, most people doing industrial work, well that what happened to China after communist won the war. Ofcourse not every one works in industries and mass product, there are doctors, professors too,but you get the picture, thats the dominant theme of Chinese work force. Tibetans, Mongols and Uighur in China are facing assimilation, threat to their culture and society. China is inflicting rape on thousands of teen Uighur women of , moving them to Han Chinese area forcing them into prostitution. Mongol and Tibet are also facing oppression and distruction. China is using rape as a weapon of war against its own minority population. Misconception of powerful and hard working China and Chinese model is farce while the reality there is very very disturbing. Bjp should learn and should not try to follow china model.Recommend

  • Rehan Mughal

    Why is kashmir missing from the map?Recommend

  • KDP

    “What have they done to ensure that their life is more valuable than yours? ”
    Children of Politicians (Of governing party in particular) require 24 hours security to make sure they remain safe. The reason is country does not want their rulers (Politicians) emotionally disturbed if their children are harmed. Emotionally disturbed Prim Minister or President cannot rule or take responsible decisions for the good of the country. Governance of country is not in danger if your or my children are harmed

  • KDP

    We do not have a good culuture or values anyway. Just look around. Western countries have values and culture that make their population relatively honest generous and tolerant of people who are not like them of have same religion. As a result their country becomes prosperous and happy and South Asians want to go there leaving their cultures and values behind hopefully !!Recommend

  • Critical

    We eagerly take out our dyes on holi,

    Since when did Holi became a foreign festival??

    Oh I forgot,you guys are Arabs and whatever the culture of subcontinent is alien to you…Recommend

  • Izzah Imran

    Thank you for reiterating my stance. Had the English not been verbose, the blog would never have made it here. Another example of the white man’s supremacy.
    Also, what is to excuse me of the “white man” influence? I am, too, a product of the same generation, hence as hopeless as the rest.Recommend

  • Izzah Imran

    Gist of the article, to be precise. Thank you!Recommend

  • BNS

    Before Pakistanis jump and scream “Indian”, please listen to my argument carefully. Slave mentality is not your problem alone. Even in India, we have the oldest political party which cannot be described any better. There are great people in its ranks, However, they don’t raise a finger against the dynasty, you know who and why. A controversial BJP leader recently asked a candid question to the leaders of the Congress Party “Would you have elected a lady of African origin to the position of party President, had Shri Rajiv Gandhi got married to her instead of Sonia ji”? The question was never heard getting answered in the din it created. Besides, no matter what is your faith, deep down you would be proud of what your ancestors did. For e.g., languages. Today, in Pakistan, all local languages are almost dead, and even your national language, Urdu is not being used. In contrast, look at Bangladesh, they are not ashamed using ‘Bangla’. India, to its credit still uses all the local languages, and most importantly, literature is being created in these languages. Where is Punjabi, Sindhi or Baloch literature in Pakistan? There was a great poet in my local language, Kannada, by name Dr KV Puttappa. Before he wrote his poetry in Kannada, he wrote a few poems in English and showed them to an Irish poet, James Cousins, who was visiting Mysore. The learned English poet saw at his work and and suggested him to write in his native tongue instead of English. Dr KV Puttappa took the advice and ended up creating great poetry and prose which are considered pioneering works in Kannada. His pen name was “KuVemPu” for those who may not be familiar. Bottom line is, no matter what faith you follow, don’t forget your roots, which makes you proud.Recommend

  • Ustad Mangoo

    What has changed after freedom? nothing ! The official language and key to government jobs is still English. The structure of bureaucracy is the same, clerks below 16 grade and upper class officers in 17 grade upwards. Like raaj days, civil servants rule the country. Police, military, judiciary, all have the same structure and ways of doing business. In Military, a JCO can (in rare cases) become a second lieutenant but can’t attend officers mess, like in good old raaj days.Recommend

  • rationalist

    Sure, everything wrong with Pakistan and Muslims is due the white man and the Hindus. Why have claiming victimhood and living in denial of the truth become such standard hobby of Muslims in general and Pakistanis in particular?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Language is but a medium to gain knowledge and better oneself ….our weakness is ( I am in the same boat as you but I am not apologetic about it. I just feel that I should not have restricted myself to English ) that we have not used the knowledge to liberate ourselves.
    The fact that you are questioning yourself is a sign that you are headed in the right direction.
    If I sound pedagogic…….please excuse me.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Izzah I posted you a response…..I hope ET finds it and prints it.Recommend

  • Ahmar

    Don’t know about white man’s supremacy but blaming the West/India/Israel is definitely part of a typical Pakistani’s psyche.

    It is just so much more convenient to blame “the white man” for everything wrong in the country. Its fashionable.Recommend

  • rationalist

    Don’t you know that officially Pakistan claims its portion of occupied Kashmir as disputed territory? Pakistan has never officially declared that AJK/GB/northern areas are part of Pakistan. The reason being that if it were to declared these areas as part of Pakistan, defacto, its demand for enforcement of UN resolutions would be dead.Recommend

  • rationalist

    Another important point the author and Pakistanis miss while being loud on statements such as “Is Pakistan still a colony ruled by the white man’s supremacy” is that it never occurs to them that they have so completely accepted Arab imperialism and colonization starting. Pakistanis have allowed Arab imperialists to impose their Arab culture completely transforming them from their ancient religion, language and culture. The mutation has been so complete that today Pakistanis identify themselves with Arabs and other Islamic invaders.Recommend

  • Mo B

    Good article but rather simplistic in it’s approach to the effect of the “white man” on Indo/Pakistani culture; the Hindu religion was affected by Islamic invaders and Indian Islamic have shades of Hindu influence.
    Western or white man influence is not necessarily a bad thing. The Pakistani psyche has influence of many cultures including Iranian and now lately Arab. Recommend

  • Mo B

    Culture is in constant state of flux, if Western values have been adopted don’t forget every culture , even Western is changing Recommend