Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is in the midst of transforming Pakistan from a neo-feudal economy into a modernised welfare state with Islamic characteristics as was the vision of the country’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In addition to building millions of new modern homes and providing temporary tented accommodation for the homeless of Pakistan’s largest urban areas, Imran Khan has also unveiled a plan to provide egg bearing chickens to millions of the country’s poorest as a means of alleviating hunger through sustainable means. As chickens are among the easiest sources of meat to breed and maintain and as chicken eggs provide a cheap source of protein, especially when compared with expensive livestock like cattle, Imran’s plan to give free chickens to those well prepared to tend to them is both innovative in terms of its scope and fail-safe in terms of its straightforward nature.
This however did not stop Pakistani elitists from criticising the plan on social media. Yet those mocking the plan because of its alleged simplicity clearly come from a background where the difference between having an egg bearing chicken and not having one is not the difference between hunger and sustenance. In his response to criticisms, Imran channelled Philippine President Duterte who shortly after his 2016 election attacked what he called the “colonial mentality” among Filipino elitists who oppose his reformist policies.
Imran took to Twitter to address critics of his hunger relief initiative using much the same language. The Pakistani Prime Minister Tweeted the following, accusing critics of his programme as those with “colonised minds” while also linking an article in which Microsoft founder Bill Gates proposed a similar programme two years ago.
For the colonised minds when desis talk about chickens combating poverty they get mocked, but when "walaitis" talk about desi chicken and poverty it's brilliance! https://t.co/bjvQQIVoRv
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) December 1, 2018
Here, Imran Khan has exposed the double standard of Bill Gates being praised for his chicken and egg proposal while Imran Khan himself has been attacked by fellow Pakistanis for proposing much the same. Imran pointed out a self-loathing tendency among some south Asians who are willing to jump down the throat of a fellow south Asia for saying something that would otherwise be praised if deriving from a white men of European ancestry.
Like Duterte who criticised a colonial mentality among Filipino elites that seeks to impose American style standards on an Asian nation, Imran Khan has also criticised an attitude among Pakistanis who think that somehow western derived proposals or sources of information are inherently superior to indigenous ones.
As Imran Khan has literally lived on ‘both sides’ of this geopolitical and psychological divide, he is well placed to speak openly about the problems he sees in some of his fellow countrymen. The reality is that that Imran’s proposal is sustainable in terms of both the environment and the economy and could have a supremely healthy effect on those in search of nutritious and sustainable food sources in the vast country.
The problem with the liberal mentality more widely is that it represents a Manichean view of western “values” disguised as universalism. In any case, most values are derived from specific historical and cultural characteristics while only in mathematics and the hard sciences (biology, anatomy, chemistry, physics) can one find secular universal truths. This is why wherever one sees a liberal ruling class in a non-western developing nation, one often sees tremendous gaps between the wealth of the few and the poverty of the many, while those in charge seem ill at ease when coming up with genuine pragmatic solutions to a crisis in living standards and human development. Indeed, one of the reasons that Lee Kuan Yew was so successful in positively transforming the economic fortunes of Singapore was because he realised that Asian solutions are necessary in an Asian nation and that while one can learn from every culture, one must ultimately adjust these lessons to local characteristics.
Imran Khan has exposed the sham that is the liberal colonial mentality in Pakistan just as Rodrigo Duterte has done so in The Philippines. By offering pragmatic solutions to genuine problems, both men have drawn their liberal opponents out of their comfort zone and in so doing have revealed a self-directed racism that has no place in an age of multipolarity.