July 3 was all about Egypt. News channels across the globe were thronged with surreal images of Tahrir Square. Millions celebrated the forceful ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. Army helicopters draped in the national flag made rounds over the crowd. Morsi’s political dominance lasted a year and came to a screeching halt after the rather humorous deadline of 48 hours given to him, by the army, to get his act together.
Did General Abdul Fatah Khalil al Sisi and his loyal comrades truly believe that Morsi and the rest could do away with political tantrums in a mere two days after a year of disagreement? Or was this deadline a mere spectacle to divert the attention of locals and foreigners eyeing the political situation closely, from planning and executing a coup that in most cases is done months in advance? We will never know.
However, one wonders what the implication of Egypt’s coup will be on our beloved country that has witnessed a barrage of similar military coups. Is there a possibility of a military coup in Pakistan in context of what has happened in Egypt? The answer is yes. The case of Egypt has provided an impetus to the pro-martial law faction of our society. Although much is being done to curb the menace of martial law locally, an international precedence has been set, which dictates that the room for a military coup still exists even in this day and age if governments fail to deliver.
Contenders to this argument would suggest that Pakistan’s experiences of military rule have left such a sour taste in the mouth and that institutions in Pakistan are now vibrant enough to openly and collectively oppose any form of intervention to democracy. Their argument is valid, but it is also true that events leading to a military coup do not follow a logical path. It takes just one act, one spark to light a whole forest.
Can we deny the possibility of circumstances where people, fed up with the deteriorating security situation and inflation, refuse to stay peaceful at the behest of the government? Besides, it does not necessarily have to be a coup that follows the model of its predecessors. Just like in Egypt, the ouster of the government is possible here in tandem with institutions that are, at least on paper, far more credible than the government.
Also, steps taken locally to curb military coups are humorous to say the least.
Somewhere in our history, a mistake was made in deciphering the meaning of Pakistan. It is the “land of the pure and unpredictable”. There is no country like us.
To my Egyptian brethren witnessing history-in-the-making in their country, I advise the following: stay put and do not give much leverage to your beloved general. They have a tendency to really prolong their stay.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2013.
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