Pakistan: a year of breaking bad

Ever since the country has only seen one thing in everything: breaking apart


Imran Jan March 16, 2023
The writer is a political analyst. Email: imran.jan@gmail.com. Twitter @Imran_Jan

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The non-bailable arrest warrants of Imran Khan have been issued. Protests broke out across Pakistan. It has been almost a year since Imran Khan was removed from office in a cooked-up vote of no-confidence sponsored by a foreign conspiracy. My apologies, I meant a foreign interference. Ever since the country has only seen one thing in everything: breaking apart.

The country’s economy has been breaking apart, the nation’s hopes have broken apart, the state’s ability to control terrorism and keep terrorists at bay and the country’s global credibility have broken apart. Perhaps the only thing that can’t be broken is the Pakistani rupee because guess what; it almost doesn’t exist. When was the last time you actually saw a Pakistani rupee? It might as well be a cryptocurrency.

Pakistan was not some paradise before but there was hope in the society that things will get better, that these tough times will be behind us soon, that globally Pakistan was seen with respect because we had a charismatic leader. And I say this because I met so many Arabs and Indians in America that never missed the opportunity to tell me how lucky Pakistan was to have a leader like Imran Khan. It is that hope that has evaporated with this current regime.

There have been many moments and watershed events in history, which could classify as Pakistan’s breaking bad moments when the nation took a turn toward the bad side in order to keep the business of the elite crooks going. However, there is a stark reality to be obsessed with. Civilian leaders have been removed from power by the military chiefs for one reason or another but there was a pattern to them: the civilian leaders showed recalcitrance to the dictates of the military and ended up in hot waters.

Things are quite different this time. A twisted pattern exists between the removal of Nawaz Sharif in 1999 and that of Imran Khan last year. Nawaz was removed because he obeyed the Americans and kowtowed to the Indians. Musharraf was miffed at how Nawaz called the war off in Kargil because that is what President Clinton had wanted. Here’s where it gets interesting: Imran Khan was removed for the exact opposite reason. Khan did not kowtow to America and refused to allow the CIA base on Pakistani soil despite the CIA chief making an almost secret visit to Pakistan. Khan also did not condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Instead, when the western world pressed Khan to issue a condemnation, he rather countered it with a similar condemnation demand of his own: that the western world should issue a condemnation of India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir.

Anyone who cares about his and his nation’s integrity would do exactly that. Well, the western condemnation never came but a secret cypher did come. And the rest is history. But the contrast is important to know. Musharraf basically was angry at why the civilian leader was listening to the Americans and Indians. Bajwa was angry because the civilian leader refused to do exactly that.

And that is when the movers and shakers of Pakistan decided to break bad. Khan was removed even if it required waking up the judges at midnight. This week, the noise of Khan’s arrest created a civil war-like situation in the country. The only thing that prevents the movers and shakers from crushing Khan is a real civil war that will erupt.

In corrupt economies, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In Pakistan, however, the rich are getting poor and the poor are getting poorer. Only the elite, the crooks, and the powerful are getting richer. I’ll ask a simple question: did Jinnah envision Pakistan to be a state where a morally bankrupt woman after doing expensive plastic surgeries would use her stolen wealth to control the country?

Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2023.

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