Shehzad Ghias Shaikh is a lawyer by training and a standup comic by trade in Karachi. He also hosts a podcast, The Pakistan Experience, which is an honest and humorous take on what plagues the Pakistani society.
In this interview with Shubh Soni, Shehzad speaks about Pakistan’s opposition parties banding together to take on the Imran Khan government and what ails the country’s political system.
He argues that the opposition protests are par for the course. “Opposition parties are trying to strengthen their negotiating power before the Senate election in March.” Shehzad posits that resentment is brewing among common people against rising inflation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, but he won’t call it “revolutionary”.
The problem with Pakistan’s political system, he says, is its “colonial hangover”. “There’s a colonial class in Pakistan who believe they are closer to the British than to the masses – looking at them as savages, separating from them, and ruling over them.”
He believes that instead of questioning individual leaders who have assumed the role of the colonial master, the whole system must be questioned. “I think the hangover of colonialism never got over. We simply switched the skin colour of our leaders, but did not really question the fundamental system.”
Shehzad forcefully argues that mega projects such as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor are of no use when an average Pakistani doesn’t have drinking water supply, or a fisherman is barred from earning livelihood during VIP movement. “At the international level you are selling progress,” he says, “but what about economic development happening at the expense of local people?”
Transcribed by Sukriti Vats.
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