Pakistan has travelled on a long road to becoming one of the most corrupt countries, polluted in soul, and policy, intolerant towards diversity and engulfed in anarchy. The rot stenches not only in country’s political system, but also on financial structure, with the nation almost on the verge of bankruptcy, waiting for an IMF bailout. In addition to having internal system in dysfunctional array, the nation has a disorganized internal system that has stopped working.
That is what Pakistan is today, a nation embroiled in several confrontations, internal and external. A limited commencement of Pakistan’s national identity, juggling between its conceptions as a religious theocratic state, has fueled the growth of extremism, religious intolerance, and dissent, endangering the chances for social cohesiveness and stability in the nation. This has led to a state of civil war-like situation. Hillary Clinton had remarked, “You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours.” Such an awful state of affairs. You cannot obtain aromatic and pleasant fruits if you sow toxic seeds. This nation won’t vanish; instead, it will fester in its own squalor. India might have to put up with the smell.
What did the average Pakistani citizen accomplish to earn this treatment? Their voice was never heard and the vote never mattered. The military and ISI had its own agenda and still has its own nefarious ways to run the nation. The political class had always been crystal clear in their minds. Anyone and everyone who could steal money that was received by deceitful or candid ways, overt or covert means, by persuasion, or through other nations, in the form of gifts and grants, all was up for grabs. Corruption and religious intolerance have drained Pakistan dry from top to bottom.
Pakistan is currently on the verge of a catastrophe. Their foreign minister recently returned from the SCO meet in Goa, reportedly with boxes of Fenni. Pakistan would have preferred if he had asked for atta (wheat flour). Astute and seasoned diplomat S. Jaishankar gave jejune, “Vazeere Kharja” such a whack on the knuckles that it will sting for a very, very long time. EAM S. Jaishankar rightly called on Bilawal Bhutto as a “spokesperson of the terror industry”. On Bhutto’s request that tensions should not affect sports, Jaishankar, sternly roared, “Pakistan is trying to normalise terrorism and India will not allow this.” In his classic response to, should Pakistan and India deal with terrorism together, Jaishankar said, “Victims of terrorism do not sit together with perpetrators of terrorism to discuss terrorism. Victims of terrorism defend themselves, counter acts of terrorism, they call it out, they delegitimise it and that is exactly what is happening. They come here and preach these hypocritical words (that) as though we are on the same boat. India is not trying to score diplomatic points by bring up terrorism. We are diplomatically and politically exposing Pakistan to the rest of the world. As a victim of terrorism, India is completely justified in doing this. We are not going to put up with terrorism.” Jaishankar asked Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to “wake up and smell the coffee” in response to the latter’s remark on the abrogation of Article 370 during the recent SCO meet and asserted that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and will” always be part of India.
What lies ahead for Imran Khan and PTI, is still a matter of speculation, but Imran knew that his arrest is a matter of time and he knows about his end too. The government is being played by the men in khaki who are seated on the sides. Elections cannot be held in such prevailing circumstances, no matter how loud their judiciary shrieks. Whoever wins the election won’t be able to rescue this debt-ridden nation from its predicament and bail out Pakistan from the quagmire. Once again, their politicians have shown that they are incapable of leading. Their industry is dysfunctional and shut down. Agriculture is for names sake. The country is debt ridden.
Scenes of arson and violence on streets have grabbed the world attention yesterday. A Corps Commander’s home is no place for monkeyshines. Entering an Army garrison and Corps Commander’s house is no joke. It’s also difficult to attack the ISI headquarters. No gunshots were heard. Could the army really be downplaying things that much? People who don’t have enough to eat are out on the highways, lighting fire to anything that is in their way because the forces haven’t yet been mobilized. This is indeed difficult to digest.
The aftermath of Imran Khan’s arrest seems scripted. The Army seems to be allowing PTI supporters to carry out arson and loot without much resistance so that it gives the ISI and Pakistan Army an alibi to impose martial law in Pakistan. It may be announced any time. It appears the civilian government will function as a puppet government.
The mass uprising of the people of Pakistan will fizzle off after a few days. This has happened on earlier occasions in Pakistan. The Army and ISI is fully entrenched in Pakistan and all those who oppose their authority will meet the fate like Zulfikar Bhutto who, though was a mass leader, was annihilated by ISI. Imran Khan seems to have made the grave mistake of challenging the Pakistan Army and will pay the price by cooling his heels in a fortified prison. Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi, played cricket, built hospitals, entered politics, eventually, managed to become the PM, got himself shot, went to prison. The Army was, is, and will always be the major focus, no matter which political party gets “selected” again. I wish Pakistan to be in peace. Pakistan was divided into two countries, India gained little of out. It might, now divide into four halves. Should they flounder and stink in their own muck? Can they escape? I wonder.
Siddhartha Dave is an alumnus of the United Nations University in Tokyo and a former Lok Sabha Research Fellow. He writes on foreign affairs and security.