Wali Zahid

Futurist · Disruptor · Visionary

Under Control: Messed-up Pakistan Series Curse 3

Wali Zahid
Jul 6, 2014
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Under Control: Messed-up Pakistan Series Curse 3
Under Control: Messed-up Pakistan Series Curse 3 by Wali Zahid

First, a small, random quiz – Part 1: Your personal ambition

Did you ever feel that you wanted to:

  1. get admission in a particular (read: prestigious) school, college or university, and you couldn’t?
  2. get a certain corporate job and you had all the qualifications and experience necessary, and you couldn’t?
  3. go overseas for a university degree on a fully paid scholarship, and you couldn’t?
  4. win a government tender, a civil works contract, and you couldn’t?
  5. get a prized government posting, an overseas stint, a particular board position, a CEO role, an advisory role, and you couldn’t?
  6. rub shoulders with important (VIP) people, go to these colonial clubs, be invited to elite receptions, and you couldn’t?
  7. get published in a major daily newspaper or appear on a TV talk or reality show, or even become an anchor or show host, and you couldn’t?
  8. share this big, bright project which you wanted to showcase to the world through national or international press, and you couldn’t?
  9. get rich through hard work, honesty, opening more doors, selling more, and you couldn’t?
  10. become country’s top academic, a vice chancellor, a rector, a dean, a famous poet/ writer/ author, and you couldn’t?

A small, random quiz – Part 2: Your business ambition

Did you ever feel that you wanted to:

  1. set up a large chain of schools, colleges or universities, and you couldn’t?
  2. set up a chain of hotels, restaurants, bakeries, departmental stores, eateries, and you couldn’t?
  3. set up a chain of hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, drug stores, diagnostic laboratories, ambulance networks, and you couldn’t?
  4. set up a TV channel or newspaper publishing house, and you couldn’t?
  5. set up this ambitious business and all you wanted was easy access to finance, and you couldn’t?
  6. bring a famous global franchise to Pakistan, and you couldn’t?
  7. become a politician, clean the mess in the country or in your city, and you couldn’t?
  8. become a top-tier religious scholar, set up a large seminary, and you couldn’t?
  9. become president of a chamber of commerce, a trade body, a textile owners body, a car manufacturers body, a lawyers bar, sports board, farmers body, doctors association, and you couldn’t?
  10. become a big-time road contractor or infrastructure maker, a big textile or sugar mill owner, a modern urban town designer/ developer, a bank owner, a shopping mall owner, a large bus transport or truck network owner, a courier owner or container terminal owner, and you couldn’t?

If the answer to most or all of the above is no, you can stop reading. This post may not be of interest to you.

If the answer to any of the above is yes, barring a few million chances of your own ill-preparedness in the current population of 200 million, you might have been the victim of a phenomenon I would call under control or network gatekeeping.

You may call it monopoly, elite capture, whatever. Definitions of these words for the newbies somewhere on Google.

Which brings us to the third curse in Messed-up Pakistan Series: Under Control

The first crime being: Fraudulent Claims

The second curse being: The Sultan Rahi Syndrome

Just before Pakistan came into being in August 1947, a few chosen ones saw an opportunity in a big, unutilised land filled with natural resources.

It was an abundant opportunity for elite capture – making money and creating and perpetuating influence in the lifecycle of this new country.

History is silent about who these chosen ones are. Until, of course, the history declassifies itself.

What it does tell is that they got together, evolved as a cartel and decided they will run the show – precisely 1947-onwards.

Through exchange of favours, upgrading of class and inter-marriages, they perpetuated their influence.

They will decide who gets the jobs, who gets the tenders, who gets the lateral entry, who gets the infrastructure project, who gets the civil and defence contracts, and who gets the tax-exemption.

On media, they will decide who becomes the editor or a talk-show host, or even a panelist on these shows, or who gets the license for a newspaper or a TV channel or who gets the cable-operator license.

In city services, they will decide who gets the hydrants.

In healthcare, they will decide who will set up the posh hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, etc.

In urban planning and real estate, they will decide who gets to develop big towns and shopping malls.

In entertainment, they will decide who gets the top singing or movie contracts – here in Pakistan or in Bollywood.

In religious philosophy, they will decide who people will throng to in times of disillusion – online or offline.

In wealth creation, they will decide who gets the next burger chain, or who gets the next cola brand, or who gets the next courier company brand.

On golf courses, in colonial clubs, on private farmhouses, they will decide who to sponsor next.

In politics, they will decide who rises from a councillor to an MPA to an MNA to a Minister to a Chief Minister and a Prime Minister.

They will decide who will install the next government, get the coveted or money-making ministries. So when it comes to keeping their financial interests safe, there’s no surprise from these ministries.

Whenever a surprise will hit the cartel, they will hit back and ‘take care’ of the trouble-makers, remove them from their positions, or remove them from this world.

In the former East Pakistan, they will decide who takes the next flight to Dhaka and sets up industries and mills there, until that East part becomes ungovernable and it had to let go to become Bangladesh.

On the haram side of things, they will decide who brews the beer, who imports alcohol, who smuggles the gold, who runs the prostitutions rings, who runs the extortion mafia, who sets up fake clinics, harmful food providers, who provides the fake PhD degrees to their chosen heads, who grabs the lands or who safeguards the land grabbers/qabza group, who keeps a tab on target killers or hitmen, and who appoints the SHOs and IGPs whose eyes and ears could protect these ‘services’.

This cartel, which is unknown to this writer, created an in-gorup and an out-group, and benchmarked a glass ceiling which nobody from the out-group could touch or break.

In order to be in a position of influence in this country, you had to be ‘one of us’.

The earliest expression could have come in the form of 22 families, plus the Aitchisonians, the Grammarians, the Ravians, the DMGs.

With changing times and 22 families dying their natural death (because of ill-gotten wealth, and drunken, drugging and womanising third-generations), new nazims, Khans, Chaudhrys and Maliks were given lateral entry.

(More on this elsewhere as there will be a separate post on a curse called ‘Elite Class’.)

There was a complete control on the supply line.

People with ambition, talent and enterprise, from outside of the system, were co-opted very early on when they were in schools or colleges or they got their prized entry as soon as they left the university.

And not just the formal education; the cartel would have eye on each seminary, each religious sect and the religious parties and networks too.

This religious group too would come handy in ‘times of trouble’ and change. (There will be a separate post on ‘Use of Religion’.)

As it happens in the network gatekeeping, those with ambition but from the out-group were neutralised, blackmailed, removed, ridiculed, put into abyss quickly, or just pushed away/forced to migrate.

Can we do something about the monopoly in #Pakistan2050?

This is Part 3 of How we messed up: A series by Wali.

The Series looks only at events and patterns that impacted Pakistan in the past. No present assessment. No solutions suggested. That’s elsewhere on this blog.

Will appreciate your comments. Stay tuned to Part 4.

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Wali Zahid

Wali Zahid

Wali Zahid is a longtime China watcher and a Pakistan futurist. An award-winning journalist, he writes on issues of significance to Pakistan and CPEC & BRI.

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