Home > The cornerstones – The Express Tribune

The cornerstones – The Express Tribune

It is obviou­s that the only divers­ity the govern­ment cares about is that of foreig­n curren­cy

The writer is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor of Biomedical Engineering, International Health and Medicine at Boston University. He tweets @mhzaman

The writer is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor of Biomedical Engineering, International Health and Medicine at Boston University. He tweets @mhzaman

Earlier this week, we found out about a cornerstone of our foreign policy previously unknown to most of us. The Additional Attorney General (AAG), while presenting to the Supreme Court, reminded the Court (and the nation) that allowing the Gulf Arab elite “hunting of the endangered houbara bustard is a cornerstone of our foreign policy”. By imposing a ban imposed due to widespread outrage last year, he told the Supreme Court, the already strained relations (thanks to us standing up for ourselves and refusing to send troops to Yemen) are becoming more fragile and problematic.

The absurdity that claims that our foreign relations with the Gulf Arab states rest on the merciless hunting of a small bird were only matched by a laughable understanding of biodiversity. While the government claimed that this hunting was important for biodiversity, a term it clearly does not understand, it was obvious that the only diversity it cares about is that of foreign currency, where dollars, dinars and dirhams make a pretty diverse bunch. The government also resorted to rather complicated nonsense to prove that the birds are actually not endangered.

The AAG argued that given the migratory nature of the houbara bustard, it is impossible to count their numbers. Since we cannot count, we therefore cannot know for a fact if their numbers are going down or not! In addition to these exquisite arguments, the AAG also reminded the Supreme Court that falcon-hunting is a centuries-old and prized tradition and the Court should not interrupt the continuation of this ancient tradition. This is a profound moral argument on which the AAG and the attorney general’s office should be commended. Perhaps, we should also do our part in re-establishing another centuries-old tradition — slavery. Why not? After all it fits the bill just fine. It raises revenue, it is a centuries-old tradition and just like birds, who cares if we ill-treat a few poor and miserable souls? Some might argue that we are already playing our part in that arena on the economic front, but that is for discussion on another day.

Given the deeply insightful and weighty arguments by the AAG, including the reminder to the apex Court that matters of foreign policy are outside its jurisdiction, I suggest we also think about other cornerstones of our policies and should not be surprised when the government argues in their support in the near future. In addition to the cornerstone of the foreign policy, two other cornerstones were immediately obvious to me. Here are the arguments we should expect to hear from the government.

Education Policy: Cheating is a cornerstone of our education policy. Like falconry, it is an old and mature tradition. One of the key goals of education is creativity and innovation, and we are world leaders when it comes to cheating. Just look at Axact. It is also a great source of revenue through bribes, which help the poor and the needy. The apex Court, or any court for that matter, should not try to stop this centuries-old practice, as doing so would be an attack on our value system.

Domestic Social Policy: Ill-treatment of women is a cornerstone of our domestic social policy. Since time began, we have mistreated our women and the long and illustrious history continues uninterrupted. Misogyny, gender-based violence, biases against women and domestic torture are a fabric of our proud culture. Men are already feeling the pressure from social awareness and any move by the Court to undermine the total supremacy of those with a Y chromosome, as defined by our centuries-old tradition, would lead to loss of identity. Since the Supreme Court is made up only of men, it is best if it does not act to change the status of women in the country.

If we try hard enough, I am sure we can help the government find many other cornerstones that deserve protection from the ever-increasing reach of the law.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2015.

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