Reshaping Pakistan


“You are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state…We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens, and equal citizens of the state…Now I think that we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that, in course of time, Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.”

                                                                                    Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah

We have come far from the ideals contained in the above proclamation of the Quaid from his ground-breaking speech from the floor of the first Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 – three days before Pakistan emerged as an independent country on the map of the world. 75 years separate us from how he perceived Pakistan to be on that eventful day, and what we have actually made of it.

Much has gone wrong in these years. More worrisome is that much continues to go wrong. It appears as if we are being propelled in a certain direction which runs counter to the inherent and foundational ideals of the country. There are also those who believe that the quantum of poison which has already been injected into the national veins may be difficult to cure and its infection may continue to haunt the country in times to come.

While the days immediately after independence may not have been ideal for strengthening the roots of democracy, what befell the country in the subsequent decades has been harrowing. This is particularly evident by the emergence of a sinister plan to systematically induct in the ruling echelons such kind of people who would suit the dominant regimented mindset in control of the reins of power, with the interests of the country becoming disdainfully irrelevant in the process. Unfortunately, we continue to suffer the consequences of that mindset. It may not be wrong to say that, with the passage of time, this mindset may have become more gruesome, having only changed its operational tactics, but not the essence of its thinking.

It appears as if keeping convicts and criminals in power has become both a method and means to advance this regimented agenda irrespective of whether this would be suitable for the country and its interests

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the political leaderships that have ruled the country in the last 60 years, including the despotic interludes, were fully trained in imbibing the traits of this regimentation. From the Bhutto/Zardari and Sharif clans to Altaf Hussain and a number of others, they were all nurtured by dictators and then let loose to defang the country of its assets and promise. The strangest part is that, in spite of substantive evidence available against them that certified their grievous crimes, not one of them has been convicted. As a matter of fact, when Imran Khan set about holding them to account, his path was blocked with countless hurdles leading to growing tension with state institutions. A convict was facilitated to leave the country while another has been enjoying the benefits of an eternal bail. Holding a senior position in her party, she spearheads its political activities with invectives pouring out of her mouth with sickening monotony.

It appears as if keeping convicts and criminals in power has become both a method and means to advance this regimented agenda irrespective of whether this would be suitable for the country and its interests. As expected, this sinister strategy has delivered gruesome results with the state literally withering away bearing the burden of this morbid enterprise: criminals nurtured as rulers of the country; divisions created among people with diverse opinions and beliefs; religious intolerance promoted; institutions weakened and rendered controversial; unnecessary wars espoused causing immense damage in financial and human domains; in blind pursuit of the United States, national sovereignty and honour gravely compromised; the country dismembered causing untold damage to national psyche and earning humiliation worldwide – the list of debacles is unending but, sadly, the regimentation of the country continues to linger.

This blueprint has been tirelessly employed to maintain a firm stranglehold on the affairs of the state and how it would cope within and in the international arena. It is rooted in the need that the person who is chosen to lead should be excessively tainted in corruption with stacks of files available as irrefutable evidence of his or her criminal indulgences. Thus, such a person would be rendered vulnerable before his handlers and would wag his tail as and when directed. This drama has been played repeatedly after the days of direct military take-overs were no longer looked upon charitably by their international benefactors and sponsors. The stint of ‘democratic’ rule spanning ten years from 2008 to 2018 is crudely symptomatic of the policy of “not being able to take over, but continuing to rule the country by making puppets dance to the chosen tune”. Imran Khan is the one who fell out being uncompromisingly committed to upholding the interests of the state rather than those of a tiny and insatiably corrupt lot.

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This latest reversal in the shape of a regime change conspiracy, orchestrated and implemented with the rabid support of the United States, has proved to be counterproductive in so far as the dominant will of the people is concerned. The scenes so far have been enormously encouraging with an ocean of people surging to attend rallies called by Khan in all parts of the country. This broad support base has been further reiterated by the thumping election victory in the recently-held by-elections in Punjab which was traditionally reckoned as the bastion of PML-N political power. It has not just been punctured; it has been virtually dismembered. This party had already been reduced to one province. With its hold there in disarray, and the disastrous performance of the criminal cabal anointed in power by exploiting the caveats in the system and making the institutions deliver as ordered, it may well be heading towards extinction.

The PPP has virtually no support base beyond the confines of rural Sindh which has been maintained by using the draconian state machinery and gory tactics including eliminating critical voices

The PPP has virtually no support base beyond the confines of rural Sindh which has been maintained by using the draconian state machinery and gory tactics including eliminating critical voices. Like the Sharif, Zardari clan’s properties and monies are all invested outside the country. Pakistan has been and remains a fertile ground for reaping dividends and then shipping them out in safe havens to be used when they would either run away as they have done frequently in the past, or they would desert the country after having juiced it to their heart’s content.

The religious song in this criminal enterprise is strummed by the JUI and its accomplices who have their private armies which are used to advance their political goals. In spite of repeated protestations to regulate their seminaries which have routinely received funding from foreign countries, these remain breeding grounds for impressionable minds who are then used as rabid tools for advancing grossly obscurantist agendas. I am reminded of the inimitable Faiz:

“This pock-marked light, this night-stricken dawn

This is not the dawn we had waited for

This is not the dawn we had craved for

Hoping that in the sky’s limitless expanse

We would reach the final destination of the stars

Surely, the slow, placid night

Will touch its inexorable shore

Surely the moorings of the heart’s agony

Will come to rest somewhere

This is the picture Pakistan presents at this stage in its evolution: a criminal cabal, with most of them wanted by the courts of law, ruling the country with the support of both international and local sponsors. They have been put there simply to keep Imran Khan out because he is neither corrupt, nor does he have incriminating files stacked against him; he is unwilling to provide safe passage to those who have indulged in a remorseless spree of loot and plunder; he remains unwaveringly determined to uplift the poor segments of the society even in times of the pandemic and grave economic challenges; and, above all, he wants to change the fate of the country by freeing it of the traditional hold of Washington and its western allies and link it with power centres which would be beneficial for its long-term interests. He wants to assert Pakistan’s sovereignty and reclaim its honour. And, he wants to rid the country of the tentacles of manipulators and their criminal cohorts who have pushed it along destructive and self-inflicting paths in the past which have brought it nothing but humiliation and shame.

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This battle is raging. The difference this time around for the patrons of the master plan is that Khan is neither a criminal himself, nor does he belong to the tribe of convicts and criminals whom the sponsors have faced in the past. He has nothing to be afraid of and he remains undeterred in carrying forth his agenda of reform and change. The people of the country have surged to his support. Wherever he goes, he is received by passionate crowds who look upon him as the architect of a new, sovereign, self-respecting and prosperous Pakistan.

But those who have, directly or indirectly, ruled this country ever since it became independent would not let go of their hold easily. They are using all the tricks in their bag to thwart his rapid progress to reclaim his rightful place. They have let loose their anointed pack of hounds upon him who, in addition to making sickening noises ad nauseam, are desperately trying to hold him back by registering a sequence of false cases and unleashing the most draconian fascist tactics through use of the state machinery. But the populist fervour is only growing with time. With every trick that the criminal cabal employs, people are only becoming more daring, more passionate, and more vociferous.

This is a classic battle scene with forces of evil lined up together with their sponsors against a surging army of enervating people who are determined to bring about the much-delayed and much-thwarted change in the country.

Quaid’s ideal was Pakistan. Quaid’s dream was Pakistan. Quaid’s destination was Pakistan. An irrefutable integrity that was acknowledged even by his fiercest critics was his forte. It is thus that Pakistan came into being. From that ideal, that dream, that destination and that universally acclaimed integrity, Pakistan has plunged deep into a pit of regression, gasping for breath. The forces of evil with their masters are out to perpetuate this empire of crime and corruption while Khan is trying to retrieve it from their clutches. Those who can make a difference by tilting the balance away from the grip of the criminal cabal are the people of the country who have announced their choice in no uncertain terms. In spite of the fascist methods of the criminals in power, their grip is loosening and the inevitability of change is showing through.

This battle is raging. The difference this time around for the patrons of the master plan is that Khan is neither a criminal himself, nor does he belong to the tribe of convicts and criminals whom the sponsors have faced in the past

What we have today is not the Pakistan that was envisioned by the Quaid back in 1947. What Khan is struggling for is a realisation of that ideal which is both the dream and the destination. With people surging behind the coveted cause, a new Pakistan is slowly taking shape from the debris of crime and corruption. It must for it is our destiny. It is onward to success!

Raoof Hasan
Raoof Hasan
The writer is a former Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information.

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