Native Orientalists at the Daily Times – the US-Israeli Master’s Voice for a Slave Pakistan


Native Orientalists at the Daily Times – the US-Israeli Master’s Voice
for a Slave Pakistan


“The more a ruling class is able to assimilate the foremost minds of
the ruled class, the more stable and dangerous becomes its rule.” –
Karl Marx.

( – A few days back, I received a ‘Dear friends’ email
from Mr. Najam Aziz Sethi, ex editor-in-chief of the Daily Times (DT),
Pakistan, announcing that he, together with several of his colleagues,
had resigned from their positions in the newspaper.

In his e-mail, Mr. Sethi thanked his ‘friends’ for their “support and
encouragement…in making Daily Times a ‘new voice for a new Pakistan’.”
Wistfully, he added, “I hope it will be able to live up to your
expectations and mine in time to come.”

I am not sure why Mr. Sethi had chosen me for this dubious honor.
Certainly, I did not deserve it. I could not count myself among his
‘friends’ who had given “support and encouragement” to the mission
that DT had chosen for itself in Pakistan’s media and politics.

Contrary to its slogan, it was never DT’s mission to be a ‘new voice
for a new Pakistan.’ The DT had dredged its voice from the colonial
past; it had only altered its pitch and delivery to serve the new US-
Zionist overlords. Many of the writers for DT aspire to the office of
the native informers of the colonial era. They are heirs to the brown
Sahibs, home-grown Orientalists, who see their own world (if it is
theirs in any meaningful sense) through the lens created for them by
their spiritual mentors, the Western Orientalists.

Pakistanis had failed to seize sovereign control over their country at
its birth. In August 1947, the departing British had few worries about
losing their colonial assets in Pakistan. They were quite confident
that the brown Sahibs, who were succeeding them, would not fail in
their duty to protect these assets. Within a few years, these brown
Sahibs had strapped the new country to the wheels of the neocolonial
order. Without effective resistance from below – from intellectuals,
workers, students and peasants – these neocolonial managers have been
free to cannibalize their own people as long as they could also keep
their masters happy.

This is not a cri de coeur – only a diagnosis of Pakistan’s misery. It
is a misery that only Pakistanis can remedy once they make up their
minds to terminate the system that has castrated them for more than
six decades. The best time to do this was in the first decades after
their country’s birth, when the Western imperialist grip was still
weak, and with courage and organization, Pakistanis could have set
their newly free country on the course of irreversible independence.

Grievously, Pakistanis had failed at this task. Pakistan’s elites
produced few men and women of conscience, who could transcend their
class origins to mobilize workers and peasants to fight for their
rights. More regrettably, Pakistan’s emerging middle classes have been
too busy aping the brown Sahibs, stepping over each other to join the
ranks of the corrupt elites. As a result, Pakistan’s elites have grown
more predatory, refusing to establish the rule of law in any sphere of

Ironically, the enormous success of Edward Said’s Orientalism, his
devastating critiquing of the West’s hegemonic discourse on the
‘Orient,’ has deflected attention from the recrudescence of a native
Orientalism in much of the Periphery in the last few decades. Its
victory in Pakistan is nearly complete, where it has been led by the
likes of Ahmad Rashid, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Najam Sethi, Khaled Ahmad,
Irfan Hussain, Husain Haqqani, and P.J. Mir, etc. Not a very
illustrious lot, but they are the minions of Western embassies and
Western-financed NGOs in Pakistan.

In the euphoria of Edward Said’s success, left intellectuals have
nearly forgotten that the West’s servant classes in the Periphery
produce an indigenous Orientalism. I refer here to the coarser but
more pernicious Orientalism of the brown Sahibs, who are free, behind
their rhetoric of progress, to denigrate their own history and
culture. A few of these native Orientalists are deracinated souls, who
put down their own people for failing, as they see it, to keep up with
the forward march of history. Most, however, are opportunists,
lackeys, or wannabee lackeys, eager to join the native racketeers who
manage the Periphery for the benefit of outside powers.

In the closing years of the colonial era, the nationalists had kept a
watchful eye on native informers. In recent decades, as their power
has grown several fold, this treasonous class has received little
attention from left circles. Post-colonial critics continue to produce
learned books and essays on the language, structures, tools,
intricacies and even the arcana of Orientalism, but they pay scant
attention to native Orientalism. These critics prefer to concentrate
their firepower on the ‘far enemy,’ the Western protagonists of
Orientalism. Perhaps, they imagine that the native Orientalists, the
‘near enemy,’ will vanish once the ‘far enemy’has been discredited. In
truth, the ‘near enemy’ has grown enormously even as the ‘far enemy’
treads more cautiously.

Quite early, writing in the 1950s, Franz Fanon, in The Wretched of the
Earth, had sounded the alarm about the treachery latent in the
‘national bourgeoisie’ poised to step into the shoes of the white
colonials and settlers in Africa. About this underdeveloped
bourgeoisie, he writes, “its mission has nothing to do with
transforming the nation; it consists, prosaically, of being the
transmission line between the nation and a capitalism, rampant though
camouflaged, which today puts on the mask of neocolonialism.”

“Because it is bereft of ideas,” Fanon writes, “because it lives to
itself and cuts itself off from the people, undermined by its
hereditary incapacity to think in terms of all the problems of the
nation as seen from point of view of the whole of that nation, the
national middle class will have nothing better to do than to take on
the role of manager for Western enterprise, and it will in practice
set up its country as the brothel of Europe.” Although Fanon was not
writing about Pakistan, no truer words – nothing more prescient –
could have been written about the brown Sahibs who have managed US-
Zionist interests in Pakistan.

To return to the DT, surely some Pakistani – moved by the instinct of
self-preservation – could have produced at least one damning monograph
documenting the methods that this new flagship of native Orientalism
has employed to advance the strategic interests of the US-Zionist
confederates in Pakistan and the Islamicate. Oddly, you are unlikely
to find even a few articles that shine the spotlight on the DT’s
unabashed advocacy of the US-Zionist agenda in Pakistan.

The DT was launched in April 2002, simultaneously from Lahore and
Karachi, just a few months after the United States had invaded and
occupied Afghanistan, with indispensable logistic support from
Pakistan. Was this timing a mere coincidence? Or was the launching of
an aggressively pro-American and pro-Zionist newspaper, led by a team
of mostly US-trained editors and columnists, an imperative of the new
geopolitics created by the Pakistan’s mercenary embrace of the US-
Zionist global war of terrorism?

Coincidence or not, the DT has served its masters with verve. Its
pages have carried countless editorials justifying Pakistan’s
induction into the US led war against Afghanistan, under the cover of
the attacks of September 11, 2001. The editors and columnists at DT
have routinely excoriated the patriots who have opposed Pakistan’s
surrender to US-Zionist demands, as naive sentimentalists unaware of
the tough demands of realpolitik. Endlessly, they have argued that
Pakistan – with the world’s sixth largest population, a million-strong
military, and an arsenal of nuclear weapons – can save itself only
through eager prostration before the demands of foreign powers.

In advocating national surrender, these native Orientalists boldly and
unashamedly declared that Pakistan’s elites draw their power from
Washington, London and Tel Aviv, not from the will of the people of
Pakistan. It is an insult that has since been sinking, slowly but
surely, into the national psyche of Pakistanis.

Taking advantage of what appeared to be – after the invasion of Iraq
in March 2003 – the irreversible US assault against the sovereignty of
Islamicate nations, Pakistan’s ruling elites openly began broaching
the need to recognize Israel. Once again, the native Orientalists at
DT were leading the charge, arguing that Pakistan could advance its
national interests by recognizing Israel. Their rationale was pathetic
in its naivete. Grateful to Pakistan, the brown Sahibs argued, the
powerful Zionist lobby would neutralize the Indian lobby’s
machinations against Pakistan in the United States. Only determined
opposition from nationalists in Pakistan defeated this treacherous

When resistance against US occupation of Afghanistan gained momentum,
once again the DT was reading its master’s lips. Shut down the
madrasas [Islamic schools], they demanded; and without delay, attack
the Pakistanis in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) who
were supporting the Afghan resistance. Repeated US and Pakistani
bombings of the resistance groups in FATA, which has killed thousands
of civilians, called forth new Pakistani-Pashtun factions that have
been attacking military and civilian targets in Pakistan. With barely
concealed glee, the DT cheers when the Pakistan military carries its
war deeper into the country’s towns and villages.

In 2007, when the lawyers in Pakistan took to the streets to demand
the restoration of the Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice, Mr.
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, sacked by the military dictator, General
(R) Pervez Musharraf, the DT did not support them. Instead, it
defended the sacking, and repeatedly made the case for a ‘gradual
transition’ to civilian rule in Pakistan. A civilian government, they
were afraid, might not be as compliant to US pressures as Pakistan’s
military rulers.

When elections became unavoidable, the United States and Pakistan’s
generals worked on a plan to bring to power the pro-American Benazir
Bhutto, the exiled corrupt leader of the Pakistan People’s Party
(PPP). At US prodding, Dictator Musharraf passed an illegal National
Robbers Ordinance (NRO) withdrawing all criminal cases against the
leadership of the PPP. With luck, the US plan succeeded. The openly
pro-American PPP followed General Musharraf into power.

Space allows us to list only a few egregious examples of the
Orientalist mindset on display in the pages of the DT. As the paper’s
chief native Orientalist, Khaled Ahmad, for several years surveyed the
foibles and follies of Pakistan’s Urdu media. He berated the benighted
Urdu writers for their ‘naivete’, ’emotionalism’ and ‘foolish’
advocacy of national interests that collided with realpolitik (read:
US-Zionist interests). Ejaz Haider, the paper’s op-ed editor,
distinguished himself by writing his endlessly clever political
commentaries in the racy street lingo of the United States. Did this
make him a darling of the American staff at the US Embassy in

Consider one more ‘exhibit’ that captures DT’s servile mentality. In a
regular column, oddly titled, ‘Purple Patch’, the newspaper ladles out
wisdom to its readers. This wisdom is dispensed in the form of article-
length passages lifted from various ‘great’ writers, who are always of
Western provenance. Presumably, the editors at DT still believe, with
their long-dead spiritual mentor, British Lord Thomas Babington
Macaulay (1800-1859), that “a single shelf of a good European library
was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.”

Will the departure of Mr. Sethi and his distinguished colleagues make
a difference? I doubt if the owners [PPP corrupt traitor Salmaan
Taseer and other venal sycophants] of DT will have difficulty finding
their replacements, voices equally shrill in their advocacy of foreign
powers. More than at any other time, growing numbers of Pakistanis
have been grooming themselves for service to the Empire, as their
predecessors once eagerly sought to serve the British Raj. This
groveling by Pakistan’s elites will only change when the people act to
change the incentives on offer to the servants of Empire. It will only
change when the people of Pakistan can put these mercenaries in the
dock, charge them for their crimes against the people and the state,
and force them to disgorge their loot.

This will take hard work and some Pakistanis insist that this hard
work is underway. It daily gains momentum, and at some point, the will
of the people will catch up with the craven and corrupt elites who
have bartered the vital interests of Pakistan and the Islamicate for
personal profit. When the ‘near enemy’ has been decapitated –
metaphorically speaking – the ‘far enemy’ too will recede into the
mists of history.

[Dr. M. Shahid Alam is an eminent Professor of Economics at the
Northeastern University, College of Arts & Sciences, based in Boston,
MA, USA. This article is an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Israeli
Exceptionalism – The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism (Macmillan,
November 2009). Contact E-Mail: – Website: – 1 December 2009]