• Saleem Qamar Butt

Jenga Game Continues in Pakistan



Our beloved Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a gift of providence, which despite being played around as a game of Jenga by self serving political and bureaucratic elite. Jenga is a game of physical skill created by British board game designer. Players take turns removing one block at a time from a tower constructed of 54 blocks. Jenga Rules include: 1) taking one block on a turn from any level of the tower (except the one below an incomplete top level), and 2) placing it on the topmost level in order to complete it. The game ends when the tower falls -- completely or if any block falls from the tower (other than the block a player moves on a turn). For a long time, power players have been siphoning off national building blocks; however, the state continues to impressively stand tall, but on shaky grounds and susceptible to collapse (God forbid) on one major wrong move. 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 cave in more quickly than many of us would like to realize. Although a doomsday forecast is not intended, yet avoidance of the undesirable ostrich approach would only be possible if the senior generation could take upon itself to pass on the painful saga to avoid a repeat of past blunders that resulted in the greatest loss of half the country in 1971.

Ironically, the nation still continues to suffer from ‘Qehat-Ul-Rijal’ as described by Mukhtar Masood in his book “Awaz-e-Dost written in the backdrop of 1971’s debacle. The crisis 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, ethnicity, sectarianism and almost all state institutions in irrevocable decay. The State denial notwithstanding, our internal and external policies have become hostage to International Financial Institutions thanks to the mountain of foreign debt piled up by the so called elite whose dirty share is stacked abroad with least hope of recovery; despite the fact that their filthy rich progeny prone to send their coffins unaccompanied to Pakistan for final rest. The rampant lust and greed has resulted in the 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. The institution of mother and teacher has been badly mauled due to wrong use of technological tools depriving current and future generations due Taleem-o-tarbiat (basic education and grooming). The cultural invasion by our foes through social media, cable channels, vulgar films and dramas has resulted in disillusioned and directionless youth. The education sector and even medical care is totally in the hands of money multipliers with devastating consequences. Our education system is generally busy in dishing out degrees without useful skills. The absence of research and development, poor scientific and industrial base has kept us mostly confined to imports and we are far behind even SAARC Countries in this regard. Ironically, 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, quite sadly the masses have been largely kept deprived and dependent on basic life support in accordance with a well planned and sustained political strategy in the last over seven decades, which results in slavish loyalty by the dependent and deprived vote bank regularly exploited through corrupt police, patwari and other rotten systems. To top it all, in addition to such hopeless scenario, the country has remained subjected to multiple external and internal threats duly backed up by host of proxies and intrigues by sponsored Trojan horses.

Nevertheless, despite such a 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? Based on my brief analysis of the national politico-economic montage in 1990 (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 30 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”.

The recently concluded political parties’ conference named itself as Pakistan Democratic Movement Alliance (comprised of opposition facing multiple corruption charges in the national courts) found it convenient to launch unprovoked and most uncalled for nefarious attack on the stated C of G; could it coincidental or Pakistan’s sworn enemies’ given agenda point to create mayhem in the country. Could Pakistan Armed Forces and superior judiciary afford to keep taking it lightly just sitting and not putting on leash the culprits? 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.

23 September 2020

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