Predatory politics

The governments began borrowing thrusting the poor nation deep into debt

Shahzad Chaudhry August 26, 2022
The writer is a political, security and defence analyst. He tweets @shazchy09 and can be contacted at [email protected]

First our treasury was plundered. Then the governments began borrowing thrusting the poor nation deep into debt. Each of us — 220 million — is already in debt by about 2 lakhs each if not more. Most is frittered in meaningless projects which have no bearing on lives of the ordinary people. The rich get richer as they share the loot in the name of development projects, duty drawbacks and tax relief. The ordinary Pakistani has no relief and must pay through his neck to survive and subsist. The plundering marauders like the Afghan and British looters before them stole our resources and built themselves estates abroad. Pakistanis count in the top five investors in Dubai property today while London and its surrounding islands are a known haven for illegitimate ownership of assets by influential Pakistanis who have been in positions of power and high office. This is a fact not an allegation.

We were then polarised and fragmented forever losing the centrality of being a nation. We became regional and provincial, now degraded to tribal, in our approach towards each other. This was constitutionally ratified losing us singleness of purpose which was conveniently subordinated to local and parochial interests in the name of devolution. Punjab with a 120 million population was stigmatised for its majority share in comparison with other provinces cleverly coined over time as the ‘smaller provinces’ in a perpetual face-off. The military, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, all began to be associated as dominantly Punjabis giving cause to further alienation. That drew that line in the sand which only time and tribulation may fill, if ever. Today the most popular symbol of hate in our national discourse is the state.

One doesn’t know how much has the 18th Amendment helped the people in easing their pain and enabling succor but what is certain is how it has disenchanted one from the other reinforcing divisive identities. If read deeply it constitutes patented political interest garbed beautifully in the populist slogan of devolution and democracy even if those claiming it have never encouraged it in their immediate surroundings. No one can beat such chicanery.

They then began fighting among themselves to reinforce divisions in a community and then the family sucking their blind affiliates to their respective political purpose which has never transcended beyond arrogating power. They have ruled over us for over five decades in different compositions and combinations and have been so driven as to have turned it into a vulnerability which others have had no qualms in exploiting. If the military seems so engaged with politics it is only because the politicians have rendered themselves expedient to their manipulation. Not to forget that the military itself has had twenty years of exclusive hold over power in these fifty years unto themselves. Hence their proclivity to keep engaged is equally pernicious and its overhang a given. That makes the mix even more toxic. One, it has each party going at the throat of the other; and two, each party has groups within wrestling to take control. In the meanwhile military turns into a favourite punching bag for all when they need to establish their democratic, defiant and revolutionary credentials.

It remains a malignant, toxic and turbid national environment where each is maligned, sullied and tainted under one rubric or another. There cannot be a more perfect example of how a nation is embroiled into its own destruction. It may also stand for a successful fifth-gen operation but oblivious of it we continue to fuel the tinderbox adding to the flames that will burn it all down. Our myopic consideration of edging the other out by any means uses the newly minted platforms of social media that we feel is the weapon to relish. We encourage its malfeasance and lend it credibility to our very chagrin by hindering, obstructing and closing avenues to the more formal and responsible electronic and print media. Someone out there needs to realise how fast we are tumbling down this route of self-annihilation.

The final rites are being underwritten as we speak when the state and its elements are now a fair-play for one and all. IK taints and taunts them unendingly every moment of the day and night naming and shaming for every act that he lays at the door of the pervasive ‘establishment’ — these days the boots. Will it end somewhere? His teams or those sympathetic to his cause are busy in verbal abuse of the institution as well as the individuals in it which includes the judiciary now. Others, still on the scene and in power, have already added to the portfolio of such disabuse in the past. There is thus no difference in how each has resorted to maligning and vilifying the pillars of the state. The bureaucracy has long given up its dignity before such harangues of the politicians in service of their personalised and tribal motives. The government, IK’s feeble opposition, is happy to sit on the side and watch as the order unravels around them and their perennial quarries undo each other. They think they will be the ultimate gainers in this game of thrones where the belligerents are destructively engaged.

Perhaps the state is the last frontier that will be gobbled by the self-serving and patently selfish political ends of who ever survives this vicious war of internal dismemberment. Perhaps there will be nothing left to rule over. But it is all happening right here before our eyes and we seem cursed to sit idly by. At the cost of repetition — we must take one of the two options: hold immediate general elections countrywide to hand over power to the elected representatives ensuring probity and fairness of the process. It shall keep the arrangement within legal and constitutional domains and be the rightful democratic response to a political conundrum. Someone will at least take charge. The hybrid option evolving from within a dysfunctional parliament has rendered the entire governance structure tenuous and untenable. The challenges are far too big than this motley composition’s capacity. Or, if not feasible to hold elections in the short term, for any number of reasons, it may be preferable to install a bona fide fully technocrat government for a fixed time to get all back on rail with a firm agenda in a given time schedule. It has its flip side for being unconstitutional and will need all kinds of legislative innovation to keep it legal. It shall have its cost too in any number of ways the society and the polity will look at it. Inaction, however, is suicidal.

The need for real politics awaits across the national landscape in a flooded countryside to deliver them through their predicament for sustaining life and saving their hearth. The fratricidal politics robs them of the required attention instead. The answer is obvious. Someone needs to stand up and take responsibility and do what is right. Don’t let the farce sustain. It will be at our collective peril if we did.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2022.

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