What will future historians write about Pakistan?

AUGUST 1, 2020

I wonder how future historians of the country will view Pakistan in these crisis-ridden times. I assume, of course, that humanity will survive the current pandemic and there will be historians in future.

Perhaps they will write about how the dithering Chief Executive of the country went around in public without wearing a mask in the beginning and saying that the disease was just like the flu and would affect only the elderly and aged people. They will mention him constantly saying that he was against a lockdown from the start and then imposing a lockdown and calling it “smart”. They will note that he frequently spoke about turning the country into a welfare state without doing anything about it. They will be amazed that he then told people to take all precautions (like wearing masks), and then immediately announced the reopening of tourism in areas where there are virtually no healthcare facilities. They will write about how, despite knowing that this lethal virus had the potential to strike in crowded places, he allowed the opening of mosques, malls and markets.

Historians will mark how, instead of concrete steps to help the very poor of the country, his government announced a package to help the builders’ mafia, a package that would simply restart speculation in a sector where seven trillion rupees of black money is stocked, simply because powerful men in this business are among his staunch supporters.
Perhaps they will also note that his government succumbed to some religious bigots who have proclaimed that this entire Corona thing is a hoax to enrich pharmaceutical companies, and that if a vaccine is developed, it will contain a very small microchip that will turn Muslims away from their religion. And so, despite being told by healthcare professionals not to open mosques, his government did so, just to pacify the religious lobby.
They will be amazed that in the twenty first century, his government did nothing to promote the teaching of science in schools, with the result that illiterate scholars freely taught children in seminaries that the earth is flat and stationery while the sun goes around it once in twenty four hours. But then, they will also find that the Oxford-educated prime minister himself proclaimed that Chinese trains run at the speed of light and Germany and Japan share a common border.
They will write about the controversy arising every year at the time of sighting of the moon and people in some places claiming to have seen the moon even though astronomical calculations predicted that it could not be there. And how the clerics refused to take into consideration the scientific fact that the moon would be present in the country’s skies above the clouds and declared the celebration of Eid-al-Azha next week a day later than it should have been. They will wonder why the people tolerated a group of illiterate clerics wasting millions every month scanning the heavens to look for the moon (when the science to determine the time, date and place of sighting the moon had been available for more than a thousand years). And they will see people (under the influence of these same illiterate and bigoted clerics) waste money on quacks and spiritualists to make their wives bear male children.
They will then conclude that the terrible condition of the country was due to lack of education (particularly scientific education) among its leaders and the people.
The writer is an engineer, a former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, an industrialist, and has been associated with the petroleum, chemical industries for many years. He tweets @shakirlakhani