With the rise of nationalism owing to the catapulting of Trumpian types to the highest echelons of power, this part of the twenty-first century seems to have ushered in an era of receding globalization. From the imposition of another racially charged travel ban to the closing off of international borders, be it via Brexit or the Coronavirus, globalization seems to be in retreat. At such a time, how Pakistan deals with the challenges it faces needs to be given careful attention.
The term “Globalization” itself gained popularity as a buzzword in the mid-90s. No sooner had it appeared that it became a trend to declare it dead. Although previous declarations may seem premature in retrospect, but the cumulative effects of the events of the last few years seem to show that their claims may have been prophetic.
Caught in a tug of war between the hyper globalists and the skeptics, the term managed to sustain its importance in various fields and spheres of academics and global politics despite the tumultuous political and international upheavals of the 21st century. The technological revolution managed to grant it an almost reverential significance.
The process of “othering” had been prevalent in earlier decades, used as a political tool by those in powers to divide people into ‘us versus them’ to further their own agendas
However, over a month into this new decade, it seems as if the phenomenon of globalization is now on the back foot. The seeds of disintegration planted in the past few years in the form of certain ideologies in various countries are bearing bitter fruit in the form of an isolated world. Trump’s so-called “African ban” is a case in point. Seemingly an extension of his discriminatory “Muslim ban”, Trump has extended his travel ban to even more countries.
Previously, he had placed restrictions on the entry of people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, holding fast to the promises made to his voter base during his election campaign. Expanding on this, he has further added more primarily Muslim countries such as Nigeria, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sudan and Kyrgyzstan.
One can only guess at the reason for this expansion; whether it is to appeal to the xenophobic and Islamophobic sentiments of his voter base ahead of the U.S elections, or as a way to strong-arm these countries into complying with his demands. What is apparent, though, is the furious retreat of a world power from the globalized world.
The western response to the Coronavirus epidemic is another example. The virus is an international emergency, and while it is expected of all states to take the necessary preventative measures to deal with the problem swiftly and stop its further spread, it has also, disappointingly, been wielded as a weapon against immigration by western far-right groups.
It seems as if the tragedy that China is facing, that has it and the rest of the world desperately racing to find a cure, has become just another bullet point in the racist rhetoric of certain groups in the west. It has also increased the restrictions on travel by other countries such as Thailand.
With the second phase of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor unfolding soon, it is of paramount importance that Pakistan keeps forming and strengthening its international ties
Rise of far-right parties such as the allegedly neo-Nazi AFD in Germany shows an alarming tendency of states to embrace hyper-nationalism instead of inclusive globalism in contemporary times. With Brexit having come to pass, one gets a sense of a world with its doors shut, no longer the image of the welcome arms of globalization that had seemed so promising at the start of the century. The only globalization that seems to be rampant these days is that of indifference.
The response, or lack there-of, of the world to the human rights violations taking place in Indian Occupied Kashmir under the fascist RSS-inspired BJP in India is another example. When the oppressed Kashmiris are most in need of the global polities to raise their voices against the atrocities being committed against them, the world is silent, and the silence is truly deafening.
It seems as if the globe is being divided, not only in the real world along existing borderlines, but also in the virtual world of social media where groups are firmly planting those with differing backgrounds into “others”, and using this classification as an excuse to push people out of the spaces they consider their own.
This process of “othering” had been prevalent in earlier decades, used as a political tool by those in powers to divide people into ‘us versus them’ to further their own agendas. However, with the rise of a more interconnected world that was not only economically, but also culturally and politically globalized, this reductive and destructive classification had seemed to be disappearing.
These past few years, however, have provided it with the perfect environment to rear its ugly head once again. Hate crimes have increased at an alarming rate, and those parts of society that had hoped that the new globalized world would be one where they could live securely despite their “otherness” have now become the most vulnerable. Minorities, immigrants and refugees have to face increased racist vitriol thrown at them, with Muslims especially facing the brunt of such hate from Islamophobic xenophobes.
In such an international climate, Pakistan’s efforts to raise the issue of Kashmir on various international fora are commendable. The Senate passing a resolution expressing solidarity with the Chinese government as they combat the Coronavirus crisis is another welcome step.
Pakistan cannot allow itself to follow western footsteps to anti-globalization. We need to proceed towards a more globalized approach and, after taking our national interests into account, keep raising our voice against the horrific treatment of Kashmiris, and stand by China in their time of need, providing them with whatever aid we can. With the second phase of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor unfolding soon, it is of paramount importance that Pakistan keeps forming and strengthening its international ties.
Rimal Irfan is a freelance writer and has a degree in Political Science. The views expressed in this article are of the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of the Global Village Space.