The concept of Bakshu or Chotu as they refer to might be new to the millennial Pakistani generation. Bakshu is someone who helps us in the day to day activities from groceries, cleaning, serving chai at a local dhabba maybe in return for food, bits of clothing or a temporary shelter. As far as we are from all household chores with a unique sense of entitlement and self-centered thinking, it may fit the millennial definition.
Recently I had the opportunity to tune into something interesting, a radio column on BBC Urdu by Wasatullah Khan. It draws an analogy between a character named Bakshu and the state of Pakistan. The analogy seems quite odd initially, however, few minutes into the video, it seemed to fit perfectly. Why is the author comparing a nuclear state to a mere “Muhalla character”? The answer requires us to dig deep into the seventy-year track record which isn’t that impressive but susceptible enough for constructive criticism.
The transition took place from commonwealth to a republic and dominion of Pakistan was dissolved in 1956. The situation started to get out of control and the so-called ultimate saviors had to intervene jeopardizing the democratic process who took the boots on the ground phrase quite literally back then.
The world was a different place, Pakistan had a strong soon to be Field Marshal in power with a hands-on approach towards complex issues. The aggravated economic situation was improving and subsequent visits by Jacqueline Kennedy and the Queen of England had given the field marshal some leeway to act on his own. When everything seemed pretty well with PIA in flying colors and a newly formed capital within the serenity of beautiful Margalla Hills, something had to happen and it did. The 1965 skirmishes had placed President Ayub in a weak position, although the war was over it had sparked some internal conflicts which compelled him to forgo presidency and election schedule was announced under the leadership of Gen Yahya Khan. At this point, Pakistan became prey to international powers and their reckoning agendas.
A year later after the first ever general election took place, we lost East Pakistan and as soon as our forces surrendered in Dhaka, the state of Bangladesh emerged on the world map. This was a major setback for the egocentric ruling elite of West Pakistan. During the 1970’s Mr. Bhutto had no choice rather than consulting international powers from Midwest to the Middle East in an attempt to rebuild what was envisioned back in 1947? The cold war was at its peak and holding a strategic position in South Asia Pakistan had to pick sides and we did it but the terms proved out to be quite drastic later on. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had made us a breeding ground for US-sponsored Jihadi networks to curb communism for them. In this instance, the historians heard “Bakshu” for the very first time.
The dynamics around us changed, mujahedeen were marching for Kabul, Iran had fallen into the hands of Ayatollahs. Congress and BJP were encircling Delhi and the so-called democratic set up crippled every now and then in Pakistan. The long drawn musical chair democracy ended when Musharraf and his fellow generals had a coup d’état in place. We had a new president in town and in uniform which was not rare at all. Bakshu hadn’t been heard off for quite long and it looked like the ambitious general had done his homework. September 11, 2001, had to offer something different to the world. Suddenly the same old ambitious general was frequently seen in the oval office or rose garden with then President of the United States, Mr. Bush. This was a tiring period for Bakshu, it stretched for almost 6 odd years where Bakshu had to offer air bases, joint intelligence networks and much more to Washington. From that point onwards Bakshu still serves to be intact between Islamabad and Washington but has taken different forms.
A decade later we have a new guy in the oval office who wants Bakshu to answer all his questions regarding his predecessors which might not be possible. Bakshu has finally taken a stand against all odds, he refused military assistance to Arabs when he was called upon by Riyadh to bomb innocent Yemenis. It seems as the analogy drawn by Wasatullah Khan is withering away, the world has changed and the international arena is in no longer in need of Bakshus to serve their proxies. Arabs are finally having a noble thought of working out things on their own and the Americans are in search of a face-saving in Afghanistan acquiring assistance from Bakshu but this time on strategic grounds.
Long Live Pakistan!
Shehryar Imran Ejaz