• 24 Feb - 02 Mar, 2018
  • Shahed Sadullah
  • London Eye

There is one thing that is very prominently common between the United Kingdom and Pakistan these days. And that is that no one has a clue what on earth is going on. In Pakistan, there is near complete confusion over what is going to come out next from the corridors of the Supreme Court. A Prime Minister has been disqualified on grounds which raise many questions, and now the country is waiting with baited breath to hear what the highest court is going to say about the period for which the Prime Minister, and all those deemed not to be ‘sadiq’ and ‘amin’ will be disqualified. In any other country of the world, the Parliament would be deciding this issue.

Over here in Britain, it is not very different. There is acute, complete and total confusion by what the government means by Brexit, which is perhaps why Prime Minister Theresa May has preferred to keep herself to her much publicised homely on the subject, namely, that Brexit means Brexit. You can make of that what you will and not be surprised that some 62 million people mean 62 million different things by it. Last week, the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, one of the leading architects of this movement towards a mass suicide, spoke at some length to give the proletariat the government’s view of Brexit but apart from a stirring reassurance that nothing could go wrong, and that in fact, Brexit personified all the values of liberalism, no one was any the wiser as to what exactly the government intended to do to insure that Brexit would be the success it is, in some quarters, anticipated to be. As the European chief negotiator has been saying, it is time for the nitty gritties to be discussed and the rest of the European Commission, like the British people, do not have a clue as to what the British government wants.

The problem with making clear what the British want is that they want to eat their cake and have it too, which the Europeans have said time and time again, is not going to happen. But mighty Britannia, which once ruled the waves, has every confidence that it can make it happen. Now, confidence is a great thing but there is a very narrow line that separates it from blind optimism and that line seems to have been horribly smudged. Some supporters of Imran Khan’s party perhaps feel the same after the debacle in Lodhran.

Thus, it is that a recent poll says that on ‘overall plans for Brexit, 74 per cent of Brits feel that the government’s plans are unclear (with 35 per cent saying the plans are not very clear and 39 per cent saying they were not at all clear, and only 17 per cent saying they were clear, out of which 14 per cent felt they were ‘somewhat’ clear. But if you go to a paper like the Daily Telegraph, strongly right wing and therefore, strongly supportive of Brexit, 82 per cent if its readers felt Boris Johnson was spot on about Brexit and was doing a fine job! Confusion all over.

Gun homicides in US

But then the UK, or for that matter Pakistan, is perhaps a less confused place than the Unites States of America, labouring under a constitution that for the last many decades has no longer been fit for purpose. There have been as many as eight mass shootings in the first 45 days of the current year; a mass shooting being defined in most sections of the American media as a gun attack in which four or more people have been killed, excluding the perpetrator. Less than four people being killed is chicken feed and does not count. In Britain, with a population of around 62 million, there is roughly one gun killing for every million of the population. The USA is about five to six times the size of the UK but it has about 160 times the number of gun homicides. The FBI says that in 2014 there were no less than 8124 gun homicides. In 2016, there were 11,006 firearms killings in the US whereas in the 12 months beginning March 2015, there were only 26 gun-related fatalities in England and Wales. Adjusting by population, the corresponding number for the US on the same scale would be 130. In 2015, British police fired their guns only seven times – and this too with the onset of terrorism. Guns have even been recovered from the bags of primary school children in many US inner city areas. Over the past five years, there has been a mass shooting virtually every day in the US. And yet, it will not enact strong gun laws that will make it impossible for everyone and anyone to purchase a weapon. Those arguing against say that the main issue is one of mental health, perhaps presuming that anyone who indulges in such an act has to be mentally ill. Yet, barely one in three mass killers are actually mentally ill.

The American constitution enshrined the right to carry guns in an age when white settlers were battling Native American and wild animals in extending the frontier. There are no rampaging Apaches in Times Square any more and in any case, perhaps most of the rampaging was done against them, not by them. So the only reason can be financial political interest. That amounts to a callousness much beyond anything any Pakistani politician could dream of. Perhaps we should keep that in mind every time we berate our beleaguered politicians. •