What Is Plan B?

What Is Plan B?
Back in 2018, retired General Qamar Javed Bajwa reportedly told a journalist that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s confidante, Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader and the party’s financial wizard, Miftah Ismail had told the then Army Chief Bajwa that the country was at the verge of a financial collapse so much so that he was praying that his own party, PML (N), did not return to power in the elections. The news was alarming.

Therefore, the demigods of the lands, rolling up their khaki, or black, sleeves as always, got to work to redeem the unfortunate country of the ills caused by the corrupt and benighted politicians. The country needed a superhero and they had one in the works already. It was time to launch him.

Regardless of whether it was Napoleon or Fredrick the Great, or whosoever else, who said it, the truth is the army does march on its stomach. A financial crunch, so bad that fuel for the military tanks was hard to get, was not acceptable. It was the right time for the Messiah, whose idol the powers-that-be were sculpting for decades, to be inaugurated.

The time was ripe for the Savior to descend from the sky and put the country on the right track. The nation was told that it was so very lucky indeed that there, right amongst them, was a person who was capable of righting every wrong in the country. All he needed was power to do his magic.

But, would the Pakistani people be ready to accept him as their leader? Wrong question, said the powers.

When did the people, an ignorant lot, who voted for the sake of a plate of biryani, really matter? Forget the PPP slogan that ‘people are the fountainhead of power.’ Power really has flown from the barrel of a gun in this land. And, more so according to new scheme of things, with the additional help of a mallet.

When the elections came around, all rules, laws, judicial norms, even common decencies, had to be put aside for a while, to hoist to power the man with the healing touch.

Thus, the farce named ‘general elections’ was staged at a grand scale and the hero was unveiled and enthroned. The country yearned for a hero, and now it was lucky to have one. And, happy.

‘No, Andrea… Unhappy is the land that needs a hero’, retorted Galileo to his pupil when she characterized a land without a hero unlucky. What Bertolt Brecht did not know when he wrote those lines was the fact that even unluckier is the land where the hero foisted on the people by vested interests is utterly incompetent, delusional and extremely superstitious. Who not only acts randomly on his personal whims – a decision to dissolve two assemblies without any reason, for example – but, more often, on the decrees of his soothsayer – or Murshid as he prefers to call her – like appointing Buzdar, an equally, or slightly less incompetent man than he himself, as the chief minister of Punjab, without measuring the consequences.

The hero, as he admitted himself, had lived a life of a playboy. Therefore, he did exactly what he was used to doing. He treated the country as a plaything, a toy, and destroyed it completely before he was shown the door.

Imran Khan has now been arrested in the Al-Qadir corruption case. It was not he, however, who should be held accountable for the mess he left in his wake, but those who inflicted this malaise on the nation.

More important than whether Bajwa, Faiz, Pasha, Zaheer, Saqib Nisar, Khosa, or whoever else who was involved in this gross criminality of inflicting a maladroit man called Mr. Imran Khan to misrule the unfortunate land will ever be brought to justice is a question as to what lies next, after all this devastation caused by their ill-planned, ill-executed, criminal and opportunistic crime.

God knows what those, who put a person through a lot of tests and trials and years of hard training before inducting him in the lowest rung in their ranks, saw in a completely inept and morally, ethically and intellectually flawed person. Did they all go blind? Or, was it all done to serve their own personal, opportunistic, ambitious ends? Did they think that a nitwit would be easier to manage than those leaders who sometimes use their own brains?

Whatever the reason, the three and a half year of misgovernance led the country to the brink of disaster. No such thing as a cohesive, functioning state exists today. The Constitution of the country is nothing more than a bunch of papers; worth even less than the price it costs to print a copy of it.

The other question being, has the replacement brought in proved any better than the previous calamity? The government replacing Imran Khan’s corrupt and inept government does not seem to be any better. It has no idea how to redeem the situation.

There does not seem to be any state control on anything. All the institutions are working autonomously. The judiciary is so ‘independent’ that it feels free to re-write the constitution. The blemished judges are being deliberately included to the bench to ‘send a message’ that corruption is not a crime when committed by a judge. Dissenting judges are barred from sitting in the benches. The judiciary feels absolutely no trepidation or fear in freely encroaching upon the constitutional jurisdiction or responsibilities of other constitutional institutions such as the Elections Commission and the Parliament. In return, the Election Commission feels free to trash judicial orders and the parliamentarians treat the judiciary with contempt.

On the other hand, the diktats hard-coded in the Constitution - elections in 90 days after the dissolution of an assembly, for example, are openly being flouted by the government, and the judiciary, too, is okay with that (and to forget the Constitution!) should Imran Khan agree to it as well, as if a sin will not remain a sin if it is also committed by the gods’ favored angel. Parliamentarians feel no qualms in debasing judges in the parliament and judges openly humiliate politicians in their observations in courtrooms.

The country is at the brink of a financial default – if it is not already there. The law and order situation, especially in Sindh, is worse than it was four years ago. Unemployment has hit its zenith, where 9 out of 10 young persons with a professional degree are jobless.

The only people happy these days are the land-grabbers – either civilian or uniformed, criminals or smugglers. A large number of educated and highly trained young people are ready to abandon the country at the first opportunity they get.

Looking at the chaos, one is reminded of the last days of the Roman and Mughal empires, where anarchy reigned supreme, where no institution respected the other institution and there was no state power to regulate the affairs according to law, where, in fact, there was no such thing as law. Anyone wielding any power was law unto himself. Is the situation of Pakistan any different?

People, as well as nations, of vision have Plan Bs ready to go in such situations.

So, do we have a Plan B?

The writer is an independent political observer based in the USA.