Going By Memory: Is The Country On The Brink Of Civil Conflict?

Going By Memory: Is The Country On The Brink Of Civil Conflict?
So far, the most serious crisis faced by the country was in 1971 when the Eastern Wing of the country seceded and gained independence in the form of Bangladesh. The crisis in 1971 was due to the poor and inept handling of a purely political crisis by the military junta headed by General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan. Today, the country is once again in the eye of the storm, but this time the crisis is multi-dimensional consisting of political instability, constitutional crisis, economic meltdown and a power struggle based on inflated egos. All the pillars of the state, that is the executive, judiciary, legislature, and even the fourth pillar that is the media, appear to be totally helpless in controlling the ongoing national crisis and it appears as if the country is heading for a collapse of the system and disintegration.

Today, it appears that the powerful military establishment, judges, bureaucracy, business magnates, political leaders and even the powerful religious leaders are unable to or do not want to douse the fires of the raging political crisis in the country. The ongoing crisis and deepening bitterness between the parliament and the superior judiciary and the dangerous political polarisation is driving the country head on towards anarchy and political suicide. The political elite and the military establishment failed miserably in 1971 and if we witness the same failure in 2023 it could result in civil war and a bigger tragedy than the one in 1971. The gulf between the Haves and Have-Nots has increased to frightening levels: the rich are growing richer and the poor poorer. The cost of living has gone through the roof, the consumer price index is the highest in the last fifty years. Our foreign exchange reserves are down to a meagre $5 billion, where neighbouring India has over $500 billion. Inflation stands at 45%, per capita income is down and the Pakistani rupee is in free-fall against all the major currencies of the world. Young educated Pakistanis are leaving the country in droves. The youth of the country is angry, frustrated and uncertain of their future. The anger and frustration of the youth could very well result in a violent revolt, street crimes or terrorism.

All previous governments in the country have failed badly to tackle the important problems of food prices, energy, employment, health education, environment and security. Our parliamentarians have devoted their energy to insulting the opposition instead of attending to the critical issues and problems faced by the nation. The dangerous confrontation between the government and the judiciary has resulted in the government asking for the resignation of the CJP – something that has never happened in our history. We are witnessing a shameful erosion of moral and ethical values at the national level. The government is defiant against the Supreme Court. The Election Commission disregards the dictates of the apex court and the judges of the Supreme Court are visibly divided and in support of a political party. The political elite can’t see beyond the tip of their nose. It is quite obvious that the very survival of the country is at stake. In the 1977 elections, all the political parties banded together to get rid of Bhutto, and in 2023 all the parties are now bent upon kicking out Imran Khan. In 1977 this political drama resulted in the longest military rule of General Zia on the 5th of July 1977. All the politicians today are hell bent on personal vendetta and are least concerned about the welfare or the future of the country.

The ground reality today is that the country is literally on its knees, begging the IMF to provide a bailout package. Today we have hardly any friends in country who could come to our rescue. We do not enjoy a position of geostrategic importance for countries like the USA or Western European nations. So-called all-weather friends like China and Saudi Arabia too are reluctant to lend a helping hand. We have nobody to blame but ourselves because we have failed to help ourselves – as they say, even God helps those who help themselves. Our arch enemy India today is being glorified as Shining India but Pakistan is seen as a country of religious fanaticism and bigotry. Pakistan today is like a rudderless ship adrift in the sea of problems and challenges having lost all sense of reason and direction. The ongoing conflict and battle between state institutions is a big question mark on the survival of the country. All the countries in the SAARC union have progressed and developed in leaps and bounds, but Pakistan remains stuck in the quagmire of political uncertainty and economic stagnation.

Today, the political cult of the PTI led by Imran Khan is thriving and hoping to get back into the driving seat. Imran Khan is attacking the government daily in his public speeches and as usual blaming all the opposition leaders for everything under the sun – even going to the extent of calling the army chief a traitor in cahoots with the enemies of the nation. PTI supporters and the media tigers of Imran Khan believe every word uttered by their leader. The country is now divided between pro- and anti-Khan groups and the polarisation of society has reached alarming levels. Imran Khan, the darling of the judiciary, is now planning to lead a freedom march on Islamabad that will surely bring more chaos and anarchy in the country. Both sides of the political elite distrust anything said by the other side or the military establishment. Horror of horrors: they have even started to use religion to attack the other side – and this is happening in a society where the use of the religious weapon can result in a mob frenzy leading to a death sentence.

Nobody can deny the fact that the reality of the political system behind the intense power struggle remains the same for all times to come. In Pakistan, every political leader needs the support and the blessings of the all-powerful military establishment. Political leaders clamour about the interference of the army in politics only when they are in opposition. When in power, our leaders enjoy the support and the safety umbrella of the establishment, and dance to the tune of the military high command. Imran Khan was very happy with General Bajwa and repeated the mantra of being on the “same page” while showering praises on the general.

Yet today, he is called a Mir Jaffer by the former Prime Minister.