Nothing is more damaging than to do something that one believes is wrong. For the last one year of its rule, the government is recklessly fishing on troubled waters with no apprehension of the dire consequences it may have to put up with. Being the thrice elected prime minister, it was expected of Nawaz Sharif to learn certain lessons from the past but his way of dealing with the opposition and handling national security issues tells a different story.
Drenched with knightly arrogance, he decided to open up a front against the armed forces at a time when they were preparing to go to war in the most lethal war zone in the world. Several overt and covert signals were sent out to them from all corners to bring to an end the Pervez Musharraf imbroglio, urging them to focus on the real issues but their personal vengeance surpassed national agenda. Their dithering stance on the issue of operation in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), under the pretext of planning for peace talks, against the will of the public at large, reinforced terrorism. The decision of conducting an operation in NWA came at a time when the political atmosphere was in complete disarray due to allegations of rigging in May 2013 elections, nepotism in appointments of heads of various civil institutions, violating all rules, power crisis, unbridled inflation and fast deteriorating civil-military relations. The temperature on the streets was already on the rise because of the narrative of change and slogans for revolution against the system of cronyism.
At a time when the government was supposed to keep the nation united and protect its citizens from the fallout of Zarb-e-Azb, it launched a ‘Zarb-e-Gullu’ in Model Town against the unarmed civilians, including women and children, killing over a dozen innocent people. The shoot fest by the Punjab police was so vicious that it made people draw comparisons with the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre by the British Army in 1919. The Model Town incident proved to be Achilles Heel for the government and tipped the scales in Imran Khan’s favour who has emerged as a primus inter pares from the opposition benches. The call for freedom march on Independence Day turned out to be the fulcrum in the ‘government versus public’ confrontation.
Civil war instigates when there is a conflict between state institutions and the general public. It is a war between the ruler and those who are ruled. Rulers who have brought their nations on the brink of civil wars have always justified their autocratic rule by one slogan or another. In our case, that slogan is “democracy”.
Sadly, Pakistan has never experienced true democracy. It has always been “By the ruler, of the ruler, for the ruler”. Winston Churchill once befittingly said about politicians that “The only difference after all their rout, is that the one is in, the other out”. Democracy doesn’t constitute of a herd of sheep. In democracy, individual liberty of opinion and action is jealously guarded.
History is witness that civil war erupts where there is tyranny of a ruling class, empty slogans with no promise of bread and butter, lack of socio-economic justice, and non-accountability for the rulers. From the look of it, we have all the ingredients of a civil war on our table, waiting to be cooked.
When civil war sets off, two things play the most important role and become a vital force to avert the wind of change, one is a true leader from the masses like Jinnah, Nelson Mandela or Fidel Castro and the other one is the army, being the guardian of the state and sovereignty of the country.
Presently the whole nation is standing behind the armed forces and acknowledges the sacrifices they are rendering in the war against terrorism. The army is the last hope for the people and its top command is busy making history to settle scores with the enemies of Pakistan. It is certainly a matter of serious concern for all Pakistanis if the army is hauled into this trap of political showdown in Islamabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2014.
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