The dangers of 2012

Published: December 21, 2011

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Pakistan is confronted with two dangers in 2012: the possible end of democracy, not with a bang but with a whimper and a serious confrontation with the United States in the garb of Isaf or Nato.

The first danger looms upon the horizon every time there is a civilian government which lasts more than 20 months and this government has lasted longer than that. But now the army, the intelligence agencies, the courts and the media (or at least the more vociferous of the media persons) are against the PPP government. The media and the army are angry because someone purportedly wrote a memo to an American military officer to put down the army, which seemed to be on a weak footing after Bin Laden was found in Abbottabad and killed. The media has made far less fuss about the army for having thought of dismissing the civilian government because civilian democracy has not taken root in our collective psyche. We still hanker for a strong government which every few years, translates into a military takeover.

It is the easiest of all tasks to whip up frenzy against this government because it is perceived as inefficient and corrupt. Media persons openly preach revolution and talk about bad governance. The intellectuals, as well as political opponents of the PPP talk of the government’s intransigence against the Supreme Court, especially in the NRO case in which a letter was supposed to be written to the Swiss authorities to pursue Zardari’s cases there but this has yet to be done. This implies that in order to save Zardari, the rest of the party may sacrifice democracy itself. One does not know whether to give up in despair, or hope for reason.

In short, the first danger to the country is that the PPP government may not survive the next year. Can we as citizens survive this event? We may think we can as some other government will take its place. But it is only because such events have always dogged democracy in Pakistan and so we have never believed in civilian supremacy; that we accept military rule so readily; that we are always keen for revolution and not a slow democratic evolution; that we may be ripe for an authoritarian set-up, the contours of which are not clear at the moment, but will certainly be right of-the-centre.

The second danger is that our decision-makers may provoke the Americans so much that we will have a war at our hands. If the decision-makers of the US had been rational or peace-oriented, one would not have feared an overreaction from them. But they are not. They are trigger-happy and may be as deluded as our own decision-makers into thinking they will win the war in Afghanistan. As Pakistan, posing to be an ally, is now morphing into an antagonist, there is no knowing that the Americans might think of one last fling to win the Afghan war — an attack on the hideouts of the Taliban in Fata. So, if the Americans do attack, we will have not only loss of life but also a ruined economy, an end to American aid, the return of our students and others in America as well as further negative consequences. In short, while we may not be bombed back into the Stone Age, we may become something like war-ravaged Afghanistan. Our economy may be so bad as to bring people out on the streets and power will then pass to local goons and possibly radical Islamist pressure groups or, of course, the army. And, if the Americans do not attack, we will have the Taliban controlling Fata and frightening Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and possibly other big cities as well. To conclude, we are at the end of our tether as far as foreign policy is concerned.

Thus, we are confronted with these two dangers: of losing hope in democracy and going back to a belief in authoritarian rule; or of facing an overt conflict with America which will lead to our economy being ruined, again, and this inturn will lead to authoritarian or gang rule. And, alternatively, we will have increased influence of the Taliban in 2012 or even their actual rule in Fata. These are pessimistic predictions and I hope I am wrong — but I fear I might be right.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (38)

  • pinky
    Dec 21, 2011 - 11:51PM

    to cure the disenchantment that inevitably follows a democratic setup (within couple of years of its installment), the tenure of the elected government should be reduced from 5 years to 3 or 4 yrs through necessary amendments in the constitution….even Russian & US presidents get a 4 yr term..

    seriously,people always want quick results while those at helm remain at lethargic ease considering the longevity of their tenure, saving the fireworks for pre-election time..and by then the opposition also gets tired of waiting for its turn and resorts to underhand manoeuvres in connivance …Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Dec 21, 2011 - 11:53PM

    I certainly hope you ARE wrong, Sir, because both your scenario’s are pretty grim.

    One thing for sure: our frothing Islamists will still be around to torment our lives.


  • Ali Tanoli
    Dec 22, 2011 - 12:52AM

    This is pakistan Tariq sahab where some time uncertain things gets certain so dont worry who
    know we will get much better than what we are now after all god is big not america..


  • NA
    Dec 22, 2011 - 1:45AM

    you are completely wrong. A movement of Justice is gaining momentum lets all get behind it


  • omar
    Dec 22, 2011 - 2:02AM

    Good analysis, but the US and the whole western world recognises the fact that PAKISTAN IS NOT IRAQ, OR AFGHANISTAN, WE ARE A NUCLEAR POWER. India has witnessed how strong we are, and although US is a superpower, I dont think the US WILL BE SO FOOLISH TO ATTACK PAKISTAN!!


  • Mirza
    Dec 22, 2011 - 2:04AM

    Your post is justifying the plundering of democracy by the mullah/military alliance. You can bring any govt even technocrates from the US (like happened a couple of times by the army) unless our huge expanses on the army and WMD are controlled the country would continue sliding downhill. With all the corruption in every sphere and fabric of society there is no difference in civilians, different parties, army and judiciary. They are all an integral part of this corrupt system. The only hope with the democracy is “we the people” can change the govt, while each dictator stays for a decade or more. You can make the term 3 or 2 years but that is only going to speed up the corruption as there would be little time. There are countries with a 6 years term and in the US it is 4 for president but it is two hundred years old democracy not like Pakistan which did not survive even once!
    I think the army is not going to directly takeover. They have the best of both worlds and they have created a situation where they can put in “a national/technocrat/clean” govt, and would not have to worry about anybody in the govt could tell the truth about the presence of Mullah Omar in a safe haven. Thanks and regards,


  • adeel759
    Dec 22, 2011 - 2:14AM

    Everyone hopes you are wrong, but i also fear you might be right. One thing must be clearly spelled out that any Foreign Policy Failure has to be attributed to its Real Architects, GHQ. Their lust for mixing Terror in Foreign Policy has brought this country to where it is today. Media has educated to masses, to their credit. But it failed to educate itself, they are still doubtful of Democracy for ill governance and incompetence. Political Forces stood too divided to take on the powerful Junta, even though last four years provided them many chances to hold them to account.There is no need to derail democracy by packing it up and sending abroad via DHL or FEDEX, just hold fresh elections, that’s the true spirit of real democracy. Get New Mandate.


  • adeel759
    Dec 22, 2011 - 2:17AM

    Upon my last visit to homeland, i told my family and friends to have their Beards and Burqas ready because Fundamentalists are on the March. They argued against it but now they can hear the drums of doom.


  • Falcon
    Dec 22, 2011 - 2:52AM

    Professor Sahab-
    While I agree on your take for the first issue, I disagree on the second one. I believe domestic issues of US prevent it from engaging in another war. Once republicans are back in power (around 2013), this can be a remote possibility, but not while democrats are around. An average American is too tired of wars.


    Dec 22, 2011 - 3:26AM

    First you should get your knowledge clear about AFGHAN TALIBAN and PAKISTANI TALIBAN! They are not linked with eachother! But it seems you’re too afraid of anything that even SEEMS Islamic :) RelaX! And dont fear your own Army so much, it works in your own interest Uncle!


  • democracy_under_attack
    Dec 22, 2011 - 3:45AM

    These are bitter facts but i add some thing here that Islamists may show their strength or utility in KP or Punjab but I think nationalism will be main force in Sindh and Baluchistan if both of the scenarios of Mr.Tariq come to true.


  • Wajahat Ali Khan
    Dec 22, 2011 - 5:53AM

    A serious war on Pakistan is coming in 2012
    Those who don’t believe; wider their mind and analyze things.

    PPP govt. will fall down in next few months and the situation in Pakistan will tackle and enter into most important period of History!!!

    World is waiting for turning effects of Pakistan. You will see a different world soon.


  • Boy
    Dec 22, 2011 - 6:08AM

    But Tariq saab has certainly not considered the existence of pakistan nukes into his predicition no.2 and they may stand to acxtually negate the prediction no.2.


    Dec 22, 2011 - 6:36AM

    If your source of knoledge were something else, you would not speak like this. Please most change your origin of study, follow qur’an and sunna, then I hope you will change the meterialistic point of view.


  • Someone
    Dec 22, 2011 - 8:25AM

    What a stupid column. Pakistan is NOT Afghanistan or Iraq. Please keep this in mind.


  • Dec 22, 2011 - 8:30AM


    US has already attacked Pakistani twice this year alone. Besides, wan’t Pakistan a nuclear power in 1998 when it lost to India?

    So, this talk of nuclear power being a deterrent is a fallacy. USSR broke when it had thousands of nukes. North Korea is considered failed and bankrupt in spite of having better weapons and nukes than Pakistan.

    The writer is absolutely correct in his assessment.


  • Aarvey
    Dec 22, 2011 - 8:35AM


    Don’t worry too much much about India or the US attacking you inspite of Pakistan being a nuclear power. Worry about a frontal attack from within. You won’t even see it coming my friend.


  • rk
    Dec 22, 2011 - 9:01AM

    earth’s last year


  • Feroz
    Dec 22, 2011 - 9:33AM

    There will be no attack by US/NATO forces. They will try and ensure that militants are not pushed into Afghanistan and like Salala if covering fire is provided to aid them, it will be retaliated to. That message has gone out loud and clear. Pakistan is well on the road to destroying itself and needs no help rather refuses any help. The citizens will pay a heavy price for having remained silent too long. Those taking decisions will continue with their ten course meals, no guessing as to who will have to eat grass.


  • Harry Stone
    Dec 22, 2011 - 10:54AM

    Given that PAK has been at war with the US these many years, open warefare might finally clear the air it might be the only way to save our nation


  • Dec 22, 2011 - 12:17PM

    @omar: Dear Sir you have said ” India has witnessed how strong we are, and although US is a superpower, I dont think the US WILL BE SO FOOLISH TO ATTACK PAKISTAN!!” I wonder after thrashings of 65,71 and 99 how India has realized what you say. Secondly if you keep going on the track of self destruction US or any one else need not attack you.


  • naeem
    Dec 22, 2011 - 12:27PM

    we are muslimes alhamdullia we should faith on ALLAH in shallah pakistan will survive thousands of years


  • Dec 22, 2011 - 12:27PM

    An excellent analysis.However after closely watching developments in Pakistan from 47 onward I am convinced that biggest enemy of Pakistan are not Army or ISI but the people of Pakistan who close their doors before democracy gets a chance to enter completely. In spite of repeated failures of military rules people are always eager to give them another chance and throw the democracy out of their windows.


  • Nitish
    Dec 22, 2011 - 2:06PM

    @Omar “India has witnessed how strong we are”

    Dude, seriously ..Are you ok??


  • Bijoy Gogoi
    Dec 22, 2011 - 2:56PM

    @naeem: “we are muslimes alhamdullia we should faith on ALLAH in shallah pakistan will survive thousands of years “

    Same thing used to be said before East Pakistan became independent.


  • Mahmood Saeed
    Dec 22, 2011 - 4:28PM

    What are the basis for this prediction? Is this the product of a depressed mind or a delusional mind? Let the Tribune run a Poll and the results will show.Recommend

  • Hasan
    Dec 22, 2011 - 6:38PM

    Alarmist press is a problem. This article does not go too deep.


  • omar
    Dec 22, 2011 - 7:53PM

    wake up, remember how Pakistan destroyed Indian Air Force in 1965. In 1999, we would have taken all of India, but were pulled back.

    Remember, Pakistan is in a lot of trobule, people are very angry, and remember history, Muslims have ruled India for over 1000 years. We still have the same blood. If India or US attacks Pak, they will regret it, and all our anger will be unleashed!!


  • omar
    Dec 22, 2011 - 7:54PM

    Do you know the meaning of an all-out war??


  • omar
    Dec 22, 2011 - 7:54PM

    <. Pakistan is NOT Afghanistan or Iraq. Please keep this in mind.Recommend

  • Aijaz Khan
    Dec 22, 2011 - 9:29PM

    We are not afraid of the americans, we will be waiting for these criminals, Specially the Pashtoons………… they’ve to pay for what hey have done to many Muslim countries. they are going to pay for this and they will be paying for it in Pakistan………… INSHA LLAH
    And janab what do you mean students in America, it means killings of innocent paeple in Pakistan are justifyable or Pashtoon blood is of not concern………… ?
    Dont mess with the Pashtoons, the americans have lost their so called war on error in Afghanistan………….!!
    They will never try Pakistan, if they do so then they are most welcome, the Hell is waiting for them…………!!


  • Ram
    Dec 22, 2011 - 10:18PM

    It’s obvious that the Pakistan educational system is failing to teach history and science in its schools. I don’t mean to say Indians are really so enlightened but I think they betray a little more rationality. There are, of course, uneducated fools on both sides whether the education systems are good or bad. Why, didn’t America produce George W. Bush? Well, I guess whatever may happen, we have to continue suffering these fools in 2012.Recommend

  • Anuj Mehta
    Dec 22, 2011 - 11:03PM

    @ Omar……there is no tax on dreaming, whether its day or night……and if you ever wake up, read the articles in ET published recently about 1971….


  • Habib
    Dec 22, 2011 - 11:05PM

    As a pakistani overseas I see pakistan progressing in that the people are slowely realising their power and seeing through the sham political leaders. The dictators and ‘democratic dictators’ are the same as far as the corruption goes. People power will insha allah see the day we will not tolerate these dictators and our law will be islam with a bright and progressive future as we had for centuries when we explored sciences and the world around us.

    Amerrica/Nato/others will only attack when we have a sovereign goverment making decisions for the people and ummah.The need these agent dictators.


  • Dec 23, 2011 - 8:40PM


    So, you are saying that a Country which cant even perform the simple task of protecting its sovereignty can will an all out war with powers like India and the US? This year twice this happened. What has Pakistan managed to do? Nothing. Why?

    What CAN it do! Bomb the US mainland? Pakistan will be wiped off the Earth for even trying.

    As I implied. Pakistan is a weak nation despite having so many weapons and probably because of it. USSR too had many weapons but it collapsed because it lacked a foundation, just like Pakistan.

    What is Pakistan? A Democracy? A Dictatorship? A Socialist or a Capitalist economy? What!


  • Dec 24, 2011 - 12:40PM

    @BruteForce: BruteForce you have rightly said the truth. As much one may try, one can only become strong in proportion to his size. However a wolf may try it can not become as strong as a tiger. The days when England or Germany trampled the world are gone. It happened as the other side was very backward in technology/industrialization like India etc or were totally unprepared like England and other European countries. Pakistan is spending such huge amounts on war machines that the world thinks is totally disproportionate. This is leading to economic crisis and non development in all other fields. The perceived threat from India, US or Israel etc has been created to keep army in power. And it is sad that some believe in these threats.


  • Arijit Sharma
    Dec 24, 2011 - 6:25PM

    @omar: ” …. Remember, Pakistan is in a lot of trobule, people are very angry, and remember history, Muslims have ruled India for over 1000 years. We still have the same blood. … “

    Enlighten me, is your blood the same as us (Hindus, Buddhists, etc) or are you saying that your genetic sequence is derived from Arabs, Mongols, Persians ?


  • Dec 25, 2011 - 6:26AM

    @omar: The version of 1965 and 1999 as recorded in Pakistan, and by all other countries of the world is different. Obviously the frog of the well only knows what he is told as he can not go out and seek the truth.


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