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Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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Pakistan’s power centers: The feudals, the industrialists and the rebels

The British's return on investment (ROI) was a resoundingly successful divide and rule strategy, under which a tier of "brown on brown" rule was enforced. The new feudals were the red right hand of the British & exercised their wealth & power with ruthless efficiency - against their own people

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Shahid Raza, a policy consultant and a writer who conducts independent research and analysis, argues that there are three main power centers in Pakistan; the feudals, the industrialists, and the rebels.

The Feudals:

A class of collaborators created by the Colonial British occupation after the failed war of resistance in 1857. In return for their loyalty, they (the feudals) received large swaths of fertile lands in Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan. The British’s return on investment (ROI) was a resoundingly successful divide and rule strategy, under which a tier of “brown on brown” rule was enforced. The new feudals were the red right hand of the British & exercised their wealth & power with ruthless efficiency – against their own people.

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It worked perfectly for the British, as it made more sense to maintain occupation through local collaborators in return for lands that never belonged to the British in the first place. They crushed rebellions, murdered dissenters, and suppressed their own people. When the country finally gained independence from Colonial occupation, the feudals by that time were in complete control of the country’s economy, social fabric and politics – and in a stroke of irony, the same class of people became rulers of a people they suppressed & still do.

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The Industrialists:

Another class of people, mostly businessmen, who rode the textile and industry boom in the 60s, also became politically active. With surplus cash and growing income, they felt vulnerable to the feudals who were politically powerful at that time. Consequently, they started landing in politics with a primary ambition to undercut the feudals and to protect their businesses and their friends.

This trend escalated after a feudal gentleman decided to hang them on the pike through the nationalization process to destroy competition.
As time went by, the new class started to consolidate power and despite interruptions, continued to work as a syndicate, firmly committed to protecting their factional interests and their newly acquired class status. They’re the ones who keep pumping your money abroad.

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The Rebels:

Somewhere in the early 2000s, the middle class felt increasingly squeezed between the two power centers, primarily due to their turf war, fought in the 90s. As a result, a new power center emerged from the middle working class of the country, looking to oust the industrialist and the feudals.

Their primary objective was to use popular opinion to overthrow a system dominated by two power centers that were seen as corrupt, inefficient, and unsustainable for the country as a whole. The awakening among the middle classes created a wave of sentiment driven by change.The “rebels” took years to consolidate, but once it did so, the first thing it did was to break the wheel that plagued this country for decades. Marred by its limitations, inefficiencies, and inexperience, they continue to resist the rich and powerful classes.

Naturally, the first two power centers (Feudals and Industrialists) did not like ordinary people challenging their authority; they did what minority syndicate groups do – unite. As a result, now we have a three-axis turf war between three power centers – and whoever wins will decide the fate of this country. The coming decade will see a great rift between these three power centers. The centrifugal forces will play their role in the process, and by the time the dust settles, years from now, the country would’ve gotten rid of the cash-rich interest groups and feudals.

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If this happens, there will be a new political reality in the country, a bedrock upon which an equitable state, a true representation of its many peoples, can be built. However, those powers, local and foreign, who are beneficiaries of the status quo will intervene.
It, therefore, comes down to mass awareness, political awakening, and education of the common folk to develop the ability to see trends and transitions in hindsight and decide how they want the future of their children to look like.