Are we forsaken people? Is it due to our individual weak characters and collective inability to rise and defend our rights, or have we been captured by an elite comprising a handful of politicians, generals, bureaucrats, pirs, landlords, mullahs, industrialists and bankers etc.? Or the reason for our plight is because of the toxic combination of all the above factors? The diagnostic part is important as only an accurate assessment of the reasons for our fall to such low levels may enable us to search for the remedies. But the task of finding durable remedies will come later as now we are in a firefighting phase.
What is the situation?
A popular political party with more than half the masses in its support, an important portion of the superior judiciary and a very large part of intelligentsia, diaspora and media are demanding elections — as per the constitution — in two provinces, which comprise more than 65 percent of Pakistan.
But the Shehbaz Sharif government – backed by the state machinery, a certain percentage of people and a faction in the judiciary – wants to continue clinging to power at the centre and the Sindh province. It is trying to delay the elections on flimsy excuses. Their logic of holding the national and provincial polls simultaneously has some grounds, but then they need to adjust to the demands of the majority and dissolve National and Sindh Assemblies a little earlier to pave the way for the general elections somewhere between May and July. If the government is unable to do this, then it should find a constitutional way (even by making a onetime amendment) to return the Punjab and KP governments back to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) till all the assemblies are dissolved simultaneously.
But on the contrary, the government is on a collision course and has announced to defy the Supreme Court judgement by passing a controversial resolution in the National Assembly. This resolution is likely to get an endorsement by the National Security Committee (NSC), which will only intensify political polarization and even make the state institutions controversial. If this happens, and a full-blown confrontation starts, only the enemies of Pakistan would cherish.
The PTI’s youth wing, especially its social media squad, without understanding the grave implications, have directed their guns against the Pakistan Army as an institution rather than understanding the political dynamics and keeping its criticism discreet, selective and responsible.
The worst thing that can happen to any nation is a direct clash between the disorganised people and the organised forces. Because of the sheer numbers on one side and organised resources on the other, no one actually wins. It only results in mayhem and weakening of the state. Let us hope that it doesn’t happen.
We must remember that the enemies of Pakistan are always ready to add fuel to the fire by assisting both the sides and keeping the conflict and contradiction alive. Now can’t this simple phenomenon — repeated in history umpteen times — be understood by the PTI, the government and the Institutions?
The PTI and the government will keep blaming one another for the ever-deepening crisis, whereas, it is by now amply clear that it all happened because of a manipulated regime change. Only the very innocent would call it a natural, normal political change, especially after what all have been revealed by various personalities actually involved in the game. The Pakistan Army, under the new command, hands full with internal and external security issues, is seemingly showing little or no interest in diffusing such monumental political and economic crises as the institution is overtly trying to live up to its announced official position of neutrality. But many may construe this apparent non-interest, as a silent support to the Shehbaz Sharif government’s highhandedness and non-constitutional stances. Being non-political does not rule out any attempts, in the interest of the country, to intervene without taking sides and arrest this seemingly uncontrollable chaotic political and economic disorder.
The author is not in a position to make any judgments. But would rather make an earnest appeal to our Superior Judiciary, Presidency, and the COAS to acknowledge the severity of building storm that can obliterate the edifice of the state of Pakistan and any post chaos actions would be useless. The time to act is now!
If the Supreme Court’s verdict has become controversial to an extent that a direct grand clash seems imminent, the question should immediately be posed to the people of Pakistan. Either by holding a referendum or going for general elections. The superiority of Parliament has to be seen in a certain backdrop. The Chiefs of the Forces and CJCSC should think before endorsing any constitutionally or legally controversial statement by the NSC chaired by a prime minister, who gets all the guidelines from a brother banned to head any political party.
Treading in this sensitive political minefield is asking for trouble as the mood of the government is ferocious. But let it be known to history that there were people who were warning against the impending disaster. There are serious apprehensions that some embedded political hitmen in all the concerned parties and institutions are reinforcing each side’s self-righteous attitude to ensure a clash, scuttle any attempts of patch-ups, and take this madness to their intended end. Through misinformation, deep fakes and mind-control techniques, they will ensure that tempers do not get doused before the ultimate happens.
But let us demonstrate that we still have thinking and discerning minds in all the political parties and institutions with the capacity to understand the last phase of this ongoing lethal game. And they can come forward and diffuse the situation by deflating all the oversized egos to make a new beginning.