Racist Mindset

In an astounding outburst, Prime Minister-hopeful, former cricketer and
feisty head of Pakistan’s PTI political party Imran Khan has called dark-
skinned cricketing stars who recently visited Pakistan as phateechar
(decrepit) and rayloo-kuttay (a slang used in Pakistan for a player who is
not valued). As if this insult were not graphic enough, the flamboyant
and dashing former Pakistani cricket captain added that these decrepit
and valueless players had been randomly gathered “from Africa”. Sigh.

First the context. Owing to terrorist activity in Pakistan over the years,
particularly due to an incident in which the visiting Sri Lankan cricket
team was attacked, foreign cricket teams pulled the plug on touring
Pakistan. Consequently, Pakistan was forced to host matches in
neighboring Middle Eastern countries. Recently, on the initiative of both
the Pakistani government and the armed forces, Pakistan decided to host
the finals of the Pakistan Super League in Lahore, a city known as much
for its lush green trees as for its warm hospitality.

The Pakistani public, even the usually bickering politicians and the
querulous TV anchors, fell in love with the idea. Young students and
workers, clerks and professionals, and even women queued up for hours
to get hold of the “ticket”. The queuing scenes were poignant because
Lahore had just suffered two bloody incidents that had cast a pall over
its beautiful face. With their nerves on edge and earnest prayers in their
hearts, pretty much everyone coalesced to strike a defiant note against
the terrorists.

Everyone. Except of course sweet old Imran. True to character, the
photogenic and effervescently capricious mega-star fired an angry
broadside against the event. In a TV interview on the eve of the finals,

The sad reality is that we in Pakistan are infatuated. Post-event. Imran Khan revealed our innermost biases. as narrated by national media. in a press conference. one could host cricket matches in Syria and Iraq. In part because they speak Arabic. Attention: by Americans we mean white Americans. and then the Indians.he explained his impending absence from the match by claiming that he would be mad to stand in the queue. After white Americans are perched all non-American whites. And we place ourselves one rung underneath them. on the ladder of status. of the business conference hosted by a Pakistani Prime Minister in the early 1990s. the likes of which Lahore had adopted. At least he is honest. he directed his ire at the foreign dark-skinned visitors who had been “gathered from Africa”. After the whites. Even former president Obama and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice do not cut it. in which security allowed the white employee to enter the hall but stopped the Pakistani employer of the white man. Then come the blacks — phateechars and rayloo-kuttays of the non-African world. at the very top of which sit the Americans. then the non-Chinese. But mostly because they are rich. I must relate here my all-time favorite true story. And the last rung is reserved for the blacks of Africa. He also bewailed that with security. are niched the rich Arabs. But if it were only Imran Khan. This means that we are above all the remaining non-blacks — the Chinese. by our clear-cut hierarchy of this world’s valued and valueless. if not obsessed. . The white employee had to come out himself and guide his boss inside by holding the latter’s hand. the outburst could have been explained by one man’s personality. The Daily Times article “Inside the mind of Imran Khan” has already provided a detailed view of how the great leader’s mind works. For evidence see the episode in Hasb-e-Haal (TV program) where Shah Qureshi meets Condoleeza Rice (in parody). We revere them.

viewing Chechen terrorists as freedom fighters. At that time Chechnya was being ravaged by terrorism and the Chinese government had taken a very tough stance against Chechen terrorists. Sigh. the Chinese would have had hundreds of analysts working day and night.Chinese? Yes. He retorted by telling me that I was not working hard enough to “educate” China. Later. And here I was being told to “educate” them. I was young but driven. Just look at the newspaper articles on the Chinese. And there is a widely available online test called Implicit Associative Test (IAT) that can measure racism inside us. It so happened that a senior Pakistani diplomat visited China and gave a strong lecture to our Chinese friends. and guided by three amazing bosses I had developed a reasonable idea of China’s foreign policy. A long time ago I was working as a very junior diplomat in China. In our bones. In my entire life I have not seen a more professional organization than China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I humbly pointed out China’s position to him. Racism sits deep in one’s bones. I imagine his smug smile greeting these honored white guests on the esteemed golf-course. as on any other issue. I wonder if he would have aired the same grievance had these invaders been white Americans. Warning: Even if you try to hide your racist thoughts this test will capture and ferret out the patheechar inside you. when alone with him. I was sure even then that on Chechnya. Recently a famous columnist griped that Islamabad’s golf-courses were being flooded by the Chinese. Nothing illustrates the above better than my personal experience. Try it at your own risk . At first I thought I had misheard.