The status quo will kill this country
The 66th day of Independence nears with many questions troubling the mind of Pakistanis. Two days ago the Eid festival marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan. It was celebrated under not just rain clouds but clouds of gloom. Brutal murders and bloodshed targeting security forces and civilian population including women and children had wreaked havoc the night before. One could say it was just another day in Pakistan but this was different, a day of reflection, one hopes. Reflection that can perhaps bring realization to those touting a soft approach to the brutality and terrorism tearing this country apart that only a united nation can confront this beast.
In the wake of these horrendous killings, 22 dead in Karachi on politically motivated grounds, an army colonel and senior police officers killed in Gilgit, 30 callously murdered in Quetta at a funeral, government has been dithering over a security policy while appeasement and parleys are still doing the rounds. It was only the other day that we finally heard that the message of the terrorists is getting home. Nisar’s statement in Quetta that the “anti terror war is now a battle for survival”, will appear naïve to astute observers only because it has been that since it first began 12 years ago. But it does indicate that with any luck there is a possible genuine change of heart and mind within the current government. Even the reluctant judiciary has sought a report on Balochistan’s terror situation, forgive my not being charitable but this is perhaps because a significant personality maybe relocating there in a few months.
I am shocked that the police head of KP can use cricketing terms for the now infamous jailbreak in DI Khan. “We were batting and the bowlers got the better of us”! Instead of resignation as in the days of honour, now long gone! The PTI went the extra mile in appeasing the terrorists and now taste ‘gratitude’. I believe this outrageous event will hopefully push them into conceding the real threat and bring the political leadership on to the same page across the country.
Pakistani politics and political entities lack ideology. Power is the prime and only focus. They thrive on the confusion that exists within the status quo and allows delivery to be secondary. The use of pacifiers, Schnuller as my German friend calls it or nipples as Pakistanis call, is intensive. This buys time while the pendulum continues its lethargic swing towards de nada. An entire nation remains captive to poverty and denied basic rights. Only the entitled prosper.
The only significant achievement of the last government is that parliament completed its full term of five years. The progress during that time was people driven by a positive attitude despite severe economic hardship, terrorism and nonsensical government policies. Five years of democracy did very little.
There is little reason to believe that the change of guard will bring real progress. Pacifiers will be used extensively. Whether it is energy or security policy, there is one aspect talking about them, there is another when implementation and delivery calls. It was the “avowed” intention of the last government to provide energy and little, except profiteering, was done about it. This government also has the same “avowed” intention. The flurry of activity each time something is floated is exciting, that is the pacifier. As the people protest goes into an afternoon nap, so the flurry wanes. Already this highly proclaimed security policy is in some kafuffle, the artists apparently ensuring the creation of a canvas that “can be implemented without hurdles”. Words we have heard since literally the creation of Pakistan. Words used to tragically promote the status quo across the board.
We are confronted by rampant terrorism and are in limbo as to the next steps. Is it political dithering or are we being kept uninformed of the real situation? Security forces are repeatedly targeted, to the point now that the FC has been called in to protect police installations in Baluchistan. What next, will the Rangers be called in to protect the FC and then the army to protect the rangers? Senior army officers have been killed, most recently a colonel, and the army is quiet. There has to be a reason. Without promoting conspiracy theories, can one question this and lay it on the table of politicians unable to overcome the “hurdles” in formulating and implementing a clear line of thought forward?
Without any doubt, it is time for serious thought and action. Nawaz Sharif sat outside thinking for thirteen years, the last five years ensconced in government, so you cannot say he was not in the loop. Intelligence and other information was available to Shahbaz at all times and surely was shared with Nawaz Sharif. Yet no clear-cut policies on major issues are inexcusable. Mr Sharif has been politically relevant since 1977. Thirty-five years is a very long time indeed. Perhaps now he should consider delivery as a political legacy rather than consider prolonging it beyond this current term. It means he would be free to take the politically hard, probably even unpopular steps required to steer us out of this quagmire. Doing nothing is disastrous.
The status quo will kill this country. Action can only come in the form of new ideas, new strategies, new political thought process and priorities and eventually, importantly, new faces. The current breed of politics and its spawn have allowed the status quo to sustain and in fact followed the status quo ante with unashamed aplomb. It has become a way of life. Insensitivity rules and is preferred. A thousand or so legislators and their acolytes prosper because the system gives them the space and opportunity.
Military governments have in their initial days provided alternate thought and correction in matters of discipline and law and order because they generate a fear of punishment. They subsequently fall prey to the temptation of seeking legitimacy, which is close to impossible in a country regulated by constitution notwithstanding its historical fragility in Pakistan. Fear of punishment is consummately absent. The police, who we, even as sons of so-called entitled parents were terrified of, are now not feared, even by random motorcycle riding demons. There are no convictions handed down, delayed by incompetent prosecutors or unwilling magistrates and judges. Cases in superior courts run an endless spiral. A complete breakdown of order, indiscipline, corruption, incompetence and scavengers biting at the leftovers are prime constituents of this status quo.
I was seriously impressed by a young person’s comment over Eid. “Its not about democracy, its about honesty” she said. I’ve spent hours dwelling on this. Yes, it is time for soul-searching and action. Those that matter, or pretend that matter even more effectively, need to revisit their soul. No matter how limited the access allowed by massive egos and huge sense of entitlement. Even an inkling into the time being wasted as a result of inappropriate HR deployment and strategies will help them think that iota clearer.
Everyone politically relevant I see appears to be bent on spending that one extra month in office or that one extra year in parliament. For at the end of the day if nothing is delivered and they have cashed in on five years entitlements and all the major benefits that accrue it has been a highly successful time for them. They will not be held culpable for their actions. Democracy has not paid off. Perhaps Pakistan should consider honesty, of thought and action, as the prime alternative. Happy 14thAugust.
The writer can be contacted at: [email protected]