The snobbish ways of Pakistani elite
The other day I was in one of the prestigious clubs in Islamabad, a city known to be the home of Pakistani cream, where for a moment, I found myself in a beating colonial system.
The impact was not only because I was surrounded by the colonial layout of the club, but more importantly, because I could not figure out if the people surrounding me were Pakistani, or British.
English has become a sign of being sophisticated in the Indian subcontinent for about two hundred years now. One who has command over English, not only in the language but preferably in the sense of manners as well, has always been more respected in the two nations.
The roots of this division lie in our colonial history of the past two centuries, which is often more neglected in our academic courses than any other thing.
White nations had already stepped in India before the English. The French, Portuguese, Dutch and Danish all colonized different parts of India, but the British Empire on the other hand, not only confidently ruled much of India but also successfully divided them, both mentally and geographically, hence the British became Indian’s ultimate master.
They were surprisingly very successful in colonizing India, more importantly, in conquering local’s mind then their land.
Eventually, people with the white skin and blonde hair, which by then had become a symbol of superiority as British also shared the same characteristics, became the local elite of India, helping British expand their colonial venom who were too few to dominate India themselves.
Local ruling classes, who were like partners with the British helping them expand their colonial powers were quick to copy their masters.
Their ability to quickly learn the English language and acquire their manners made them climb the ladder of prosperity.
Our subcontinent is still suffering from the same division between the working and inherited ruling class, created by the British themselves.
People by now have realized ladder up the prosperity is to acquire English manners and locals’ admiration towards their colonial masters has never seemed to vanish.
The elite treats people belonging to other clases in a completely different manner then what locals would ever expect. Schools depicting English atmosphere are preferred for the elite’s children, most notable of which would be the Aitchison College in Lahore, Pakistan, where the British had educated the sons of subcontinent’s tribal royalty.
Most of the private schools today promote this division between students and Pakistan still import British course for the elite, but it was the first to severe this purpose, of course, colonial built.
This institute was established to create a class division, people who were neither Indians, nor they were British but had a strong desire to become one.
The purpose of this institution was to bring English style here and implement it in the students for the best results in the future, who will later consider themselves superior to those who went to the local schools.
Clubs like Lahore Gymkhana, The Punjab Club and one mentioned in the beginning, were to entertain the elite of subcontinent, where people still behave to be English, by all means possible.
While locals even struggle to enter them, the elites speak, appear and are impressed by the English in those clubs.
Cricket, which was a British time pass in India, is now a serious sport and locals are astonishingly crazy about it. Elites, on the other hand, bets on the teams for handsome amounts since gambling is still banned and difficult to approach.
Women prefer white skin and blonde hair, If not by blood, face powder and hair color comes in handy. While the gentlemen prefer western suits and imported cigarettes to appear more sophisticated.
The British imperialism was not only limited to creating a class division and its effect went far deeper then unjust division of wealth, but in fact promoted and reshaped the traditional caste system in India.
Often local’s matrimonial ads still have a strict preference for the fair skin.
The families who have more references and hands in the elite class, are more respected and remembered in difficult situations.
The locals try their best to send their child to an ‘elite institution’ and only get satisfied when their son becomes fluent in English, after which their first approach becomes sending him abroad.
The elite class, on the other hand, try their best the locals never make it to their institutions, who according to them, pollute the system.
Their Institutions charge a tremendous amount of fees, often in dollars and pounds, just to maintain their standards so those who cannot afford it, are not meant to be part of it. Development hence gets lost in this division, since a nation is meant to bring a change, but collectively.
British have long left, and we fought them out. What must we remember is are we proud of what we fought for?
Was it just for an independent land, or for a nation where we were free to practice the principles on the basis of which Pakistan was founded?
Clearly, independence of land had nothing to do with the independence of mind – we remain the Englishmen’s slaves.