• Saleem Qamar Butt

Classic Game of Jenga by the Pakistani Elite




Our beloved Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a gift of providence, which despite being ruled by self serving political and bureaucratic elite as a game of Jenga, continues to impressively stand tall on shaky grounds and susceptible to crumble on one major wrong move, nevertheless. For over 70 years, consistent plunder has been removing the important pieces of statehood but the tower still stands. Things may look fine right now, but the entire edifice could collapse more quickly than many of us would like to appreciate (God forbid). The dooms day forecast is not intended though, yet avoiding the ostrich approach that had already resulted in loss of half the country in 1971 would be possible only if senior generation could take upon itself to pass on the pain to avoid repeat of past blunders.

Ironically, the country still continues to suffer from ‘Qehat Ul Rijal’ as described by Mukhtar Masood in his book “Awaz e Dost” written in the backdrop of 71’s debacle. The crises of leadership has given birth to countless and seemingly insurmountable challenges like rampant corruption in every walk of life, illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, uncontrolled population growth, extremism and all national institutions in irrevocable decay. State denial notwithstanding, our internal and external policies have become hostage to money lenders thanks to the mountain of foreign loan on our heads piled up by the so called elite whose dirty share is stacked abroad with no hope of recovery; though their filthy rich progeny may send their coffins unaccompanied to Pakistan for final rest. The rampant lust and greed has resulted in loss of moral and cultural values. Rather than practicing in true letter and spirit, religion has been fragmented into cults and brands as can be seen on social and electronic media, institution of mother and teacher has been badly mauled due to wrong use of technological tools and cultural invasion resulting in disillusioned youth, education and even medical care is totally in the hands of money multipliers with devastating consequences. Our education system is busy in dishing out degrees without many skills, absence of research and development, poor scientific and industrial base has kept us just confined to imports and we are far behind even SAARC Countries in this regard. Paradoxically, all political parties in Pakistan continue to win elections on the promises of provision of basic human needs like food, shelter, clothing, housing, clean drinking water, health care, electricity, road infrastructure, schools and dispensaries etc; however, the masses have been largely kept deprived and dependent on life support through a sustained political strategy in the last over seven decades, which results in slavish loyalty. To top it all, in addition to such hopeless scenario, the country has remained subjected to multiple external threats duly backed up by internal intrigues by sponsored elite. Are all our problems of our own making or mostly those are there because of external intervention is an academic discussion point for most Pakistanis, yet combination of both is considered the appropriate answer.

Nevertheless, despite such gloomy picture, the Jenga tower continues to stand. Who or What is keeping this fragile balance? What is our national Center of Gravity as per Clausewitz’s theory? I encountered this question in 1990 in a competitive examination. Based on my brief analysis of the national politico-economic montage then (which unfortunately has not changed much but become even more complex), my take was that in the given milieu, Armed Forces of Pakistan will continue to act as National Centre of Gravity(C of G), which will keep the edifice standing; however, the hostile forces in order to destabilize Pakistan will make consistent efforts to target and undermine this C of G by tarnishing its image and by keeping it embroiled on multiple fronts…….unfortunately, my humble assessment 29 years ago has proved right and recently got vindicated by Mr. Adam Garrie, an Australian independent thinker and Director of ‘Eurasia Future’ who said in an interview to a TV channel, “Pakistan’s arrogant sectors of elite society should stop questioning the Army’s motives and ethics. If not for the heroic stand of the Army against terrorist groups in the first decades of the 21st century, there would have been a very real possibility that Pakistan would have been destroyed by the terrorists. The Army is a great dam holding back the floodwaters of terror, foreign state aggression and 5th generation hybrid war. If Pakistani elites believe that the grave dangers facing Pakistan can be fought with slogans and speeches about abstract political theories, it means that they are both delusional and dangerous”. My message to Pakistani elite is not to target the national C of G whether you like it or hate it; otherwise there is nothing else in the foreseeable future that will keep the Jenga Tower intact allowing you to still thrive on the stolen pieces. It would be wonderful if 10 or 20 years from now, skeptics scoff at my mislaid doom and gloom.

25th May 2019

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