WHAT is happening in Pakistan? Anyone interested in the question knows the answer. Who is to blame? Opinions differ. However, there is broad agreement on the cast of culprits: political leaders; political parties; political institutions; non-political institutions; the security and intelligence establishment and its institutions; civil services; widespread corruption; the dysfunctional state of the economy caught in a permanent trap of debt and outrageous inequality; complete external dependence and a consequent lack of political independence; a general lack of scientific education and outlook; the media contributing to uninformed, partially informed and misinformed public opinion; the deliberate abuse of religious fervor to obscure the true teachings of our faith; an obsolete social structure preserved by a voracious and irresponsible power structure; a judiciary that demands but does not impose universal respect; uncontrollable population growth; irreversible climate change; a continuing threat of nuclear annihilation; a security environment that defies the rational allocation of resources; palliatives presented as solutions, etc.
We are taught not to hate or act in anger. It’s true when it comes to people. But actions that deliberately undermine the well-being of an entire people can and should be hated. When they threaten a nation’s survival and make its dreams and aspirations impossible, they must be met with the elemental force of rejection. If, on the contrary, political observers and commentators frame their opinions in euphemistic and safely coded language, they become complicit in the commission of a national crime. They convey a pathetic message of resignation, abandonment and betrayal. There comes a time when Faiz Ahmad Faiz has to give way to Habib Jalib. Either Quaid-i-Azam was very wrong, or we are all complicit in insulting his memory and murdering his legacy. We prefer, however, to slander the father of our country instead of becoming the citizens it demanded.
So today we are reduced to being spectators of a daily spectacle of cretins or puppets in the guise of a morality play – without any wit, humor or good will. There are no good guys in the unfolding drama of our national tragedy. The Baluchis are killed. Their assassins are martyred. When a political figure attributes unspeakable and unforgivable crimes and misdemeanors to his rival, we know he is telling the truth. When his rival returns, the charges redouble, we know that he too is telling the truth. They are of course transparent partners in a unique, massive and murderous crime against the people and the country. So what else is new? What should be new is the realization that we who are aware and do nothing are equally guilty. If one can live with this awareness, so be it. If not, we must do what we can and without delay. Chances are we won’t. Chances are we have already lost our country. Unless…
Another wasted year of political posturing by rupee multi-billionaires representing their victims is coming. While the United States contemplates a climate emergency, Pakistan is beset by an existential emergency that commands no contemplation. All the challenges facing Pakistan will be ignored. The technocratic servants of the elite will continue to tell fairy tales of stabilization and progress invisible to the uninitiated. They will be well remunerated to dress their employers in the finery of their analyzes and assessments. Other servants or experts will do much the same in their own spheres. The people must learn to eliminate the word “sarkar” from their political dictionary if they are to stand a chance against the forces arrayed against them.
Today we are reduced to watching a daily puppet show as a morality play.
When the “leadership” of a country fails to resolve the fundamental existential problems at home, it cannot have a foreign policy as such. The rest of the world sees this and refuses to take its foreign policy seriously, however well articulated and reasoned it may be. Pakistan itself has become a major stumbling block to the success of its main foreign policy issue: a principled, peaceful and lasting settlement of the Kashmir dispute with India that is essentially and unmistakably acceptable to the Kashmiri people. The Kashmiri people cannot defeat India although they have so far heroically denied them the victory to which they aspire. Pakistan cannot defeat India although its nuclear deterrent capability limits India’s military options. A diplomatic stalemate maximizes the suffering of the Kashmiri people. The world is aware of India’s treachery in Kashmir, but is simply not inclined to support a failing or failing Pakistan in the face of the gigantic market and strategic value of what will soon be the world’s most populous country. . China, for obvious reasons, will continue to support Pakistan against India, while growing increasingly concerned about Pakistan’s inability to learn anything from the incredible experience of its most trusted friend. . The United States sees Pakistan as a resentful puppet run by dependent elites who will do whatever they want even if it undermines China’s faith in Pakistan’s resilience and strategic value.
In Afghanistan, Pakistan backs the Taliban backing the TTP which carried out the massacre of schoolchildren and teachers in the army public school on December 16, 2014. The army today engages with the TTP , which is basically a Pakistani branch of the Afghan Taliban party, while refusing to engage with the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement of Manzoor Pashteen which is a Pakistani movement due to its protests against the bombings of Waziristan. Pakistan has virtually no support among the Afghan political intelligentsia, especially the educated youth who are the country’s future. India has the field all to herself.
These nonsense is a direct result of the state of the state in Pakistan. If this state of affairs is not addressed, foreign policy, and indeed all other aspects of national policy, will not be able to develop coherence and credibility. This is all too clear to political observers in Pakistan. But they are on the whole easily resigned to the prospect that this state of affairs will not be resolved – and that they themselves will be complicit in this breach of duty, citizenship and patriotism. Unless you expect a deus ex machina.
The author is a former ambassador to the United States, India and China and head of the UN missions in Iraq and Sudan.
Posted in Dawn, July 29, 2022