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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

Who is calling the Tune?

              

It is an accepted reality that 'He who pays the piper, calls the tune'. It is also a stark truth that Pakistan’s economy stands crippled despite being ‘highly resource rich, but cash low’; due to rampant corruption. Consequently, the national budget is greatly dependent on the bailout packages by the IMF, World Bank, other IFIs and petty loan givers. Therefore, regardless of leasing and selling out precious national assets through questionable opaque deals, the financial sovereignty appears to be copiously compromised. All the micro and macro financial decisions are now being taken by the IMF with the latest demand on squeezing even the defence budget and further burdening the public with excruciating taxes. And as always, their embedded and highly paid economic hit-men in Pakistan’s government remorselessly ensure slavish compliance. Resultant Pakistan’s political, diplomatic and all internal and external policies and decisions are far from being free; and therefore, are neither representative of public aspirations nor in harmony with the national interests. Needless to say that the global economic edifice put in place by the USA led West acts as an octopus whose arms are firmly wrapped around the throats of people of Pakistan causing national asphyxia. Drowning in the national stagnant economic pool, people tend to see the rise of yet another rubber-stamp regime in Pakistan as a harbinger of doom, but hold equally blameworthy those so-called elected democracy hustlers, who are pandering to the new colonial masters’ and establishment’s diktat in recompense for top positions in the governance hierarchy. Undoubtedly, we have to believe that no nation can survive politically free, but economically enslaved; should we still wonder as to who is calling the Tune? 



The mixed feelings of patriotism and concern for the motherland vis-à-vis the consistent depraved administration leading to a heap of inexplicable challenges faced by Pakistan, makes it look like an Abnormal State. The tumultuous history of politics and the successes as well as failures of the civil, military and so called hybrid governments in Pakistan in the last seven decades need an honest appraisal keeping in view the features and fundamentals of the state governance especially with regards to the achievement of vital and non-vital national interest. For Pakistani politicians and rulers, keeping the people dispossessed and hooked on, always gasping for basic essentials of life like food, shelter, clothing, medicines and keeping them embroiled in Thana(police station), Katchehry(lower courts) and patwari(land record office) has throughout been kept in place as a fixed policy to stay in power. Besides, after occupying both houses of the parliament, the elected/selected political elite resorts to passing the ordinances and amendments bills, although an insult to the parliamentary system and to the constitution; yet, it enables them to get clean slate on the committed crimes and further strengthen the unholy rule as a strategy.

             


Since the country's three main political parties, namely the PPP, the PML-N and the PTI, have each failed to govern the country well, it gives birth to numerous questions. Is there a problem only with the stated three political parties or it also includes all the three main organs of the state i.e. Legislature, Judiciary and the Executives; each attempting to function out of the respective constitutional orbits? Is it because of the application of the colonial mindset, strategy and tactics by the three pillars of the state on the hapless people; who are to be served instead of subjecting them to coercion and misrule? Is there a problem with our stars or with us? Is there a problem with the system of governance or with the unfair men in the system? Is it due to lack of competence or frail character of lustful power grabbers acting in unison with the enigmatic foreign hands? Is it a case of “like people, like rulers” or vice versa? Or is it a backlash of failure to learn from the past experience of others and even from own major national strategic blunders e.g. October 1958, December 1970/71, July 1977, April 1979, October 1999, September 2001, April 2022, May 2023 and February 2024? A democracy is a society in which the citizens are sovereign and control the government; did it ever happen in Pakistan?

              


In almost 77 years, Pakistan has experienced democratic governments with tinge of socialism, communism and hue of dynastic rule and conversely, presidential cum autocratic military rule with shades of democracy. Nevertheless, with only a superficial change of faces necessitated due to natural fade away; in all experiments, the ruling elite with new generations onboard remained a perpetual reality along with the domestic and foreign movers and shakers. The common internal factors in all types of tried governments, which had remained the main reasons for unending failure include: no induction and grooming criterion for the Legislature as in the case of Judiciary and the Executives; consequent unrelenting poor governance, widespread corruption, political victimization, wasteful and shameless extravagance on public funds, lack of accountability, weak writ of the law, desperately slow judicial system, suffocating unbridled inflation, addiction to foreign loans by accepting some compromises on national sovereignty and decision making, adjusting to foreign influence, unstoppable slide down of economy with pitiable decline in the value of Pak Rupee. Therefore, suffice to say that democratic process in Pakistan has remained one step forward and two steps backward and the same old wine in new bottles. Since people of Pakistan have repeatedly seen the change of governments overnight, murder, rape, arson, kidnapping, drugs, narcotics smuggling and NAB cases involving billions of rupee fraud written off in hours, and yesterday’s villain becoming today’s rulers and vice versa; therefore, Pakistan badly needs Magna Carta of its own, which guarantees rule of law and timely dispensation of justice to all and sundry.


                As of now, the pressure cookers boiling the public beyond unbearable temperature have started bursting in most parts of the country. Yet, as always the powerful ruling elite continues to look nonchalant and above the law. Consequently, the executive and judiciary conceivably remain targets of harsh criticism for conforming to the exploitation of the powerful rulers. Adding fuel to the fire is the public perception that the most powerful among the all three organs of the state worked hand in glove for the premature ouster of the PTI government; which was cryptically prompted by the foreign hand. Thus, the cataclysmic politico-economic slide down got aggravated by bringing in quickly cobbled together PDM government and it got further worsened to the hilt by stealing the public mandate once again by massive elections rigging through Forms 47 during February 2024; keeping largest and most popular political party on the anvil with its leadership incarcerated on flimsy and politically motivated charges. And finally the shots called by IMF’s multiple demands causing ever burgeoning inflation.

Ironically, the glimmer of hope is getting dimmer due to the public opinion that a powerful and stable Pakistan under a bold and dynamic leadership seems a distant dream, seeing the fate of Liaqat Ali Khan, Fatima Jinnah, Z.A. Bhutto, General Zia-ul-Haq, Benazir Bhutto and now Imran Khan facing similar circumstances; menacingly due to conflated interests and intrigues. The best national hope is if the apex courts could rise up to the occasion and ensure supremacy of the constitution, prevalence of the rule of law and speak justly through their timely decisions instead of unduly stretched performance on TV channels.

Finally a few words about national security. The role of establishment in Pakistani politics is an undeniable reality for good or for bad reasons as one may opt to interpret and advocate. It is therefore considered an unavoidable obligation that the establishment should wash away the acuity of a so-called hybrid formula of governance with avowed nation building spirit and just perform its role according to the unadulterated 1973 constitution to avoid 1971 like consequences, predominantly caused due to denial of public mandate. The Armed Forces’ conventional as well as its Nuclear Deterrence Capabilities are relentlessly under sharp focus of the foes, looking even more precarious in the current shaped environment. Hence, there is no reason for the USA and allies to change their aims and objectives against a Nuclear Pakistan. The looming and well-choreographed redux of terrorism and public riots in Pakistan and the IMF’s strings gradually creeping up on Defence Budget is too portentous to be dealt with alone and needs immediate strategic regional cooperation including Pakistan, China, Russia, Central Asian Republics, Türkiye, Iran, Azerbaijan and even Afghanistan. The incumbent government and opposition need to demonstrate political sagacity and foresight to save the national integrity by political reconciliation. The military institution should let the politicians and the civil armed forces handle the internal chaos and avoid getting embroiled in the political quagmire. Let each and every organ of the State perform its own constitutional role rather than unduly leaning on the Army, which already has its plate full of security challenges; besides, restoration of the apolitical image. The wisdom lies in learning from history and not repeating it.

 

                

 

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