Pakistan: The Ship Is Sinking

Pakistan: The Ship Is Sinking

The country is struggling to remain afloat as it is disowned by its own people, abandoned and set adrift in an ocean flooded by disloyalty, corruption and selfishness.
First Published: Mar 03,2023 03:25PM
by Lt Gen Tariq Khan

Pakistan flag: Representative image | Photo courtesy: Kashmir Newsline

I see chaos before me and confusion all around – the future dark and hope illusive. People have become irrelevant. The judiciary is an accessory to crime, and the government an accomplice to anarchy.

US Senator Frank Lautenberg famously said: “One thing I have learned in my politics is that if one of the parties is shameless, the other party cannot afford to be spineless.”

PTI, the most popular party in the country entrusted with the hopes and expectations of the people, is slowly becoming irrelevant. PTI has erred, as it blundered in response to the machinations of the PDM and their supporters. It resigned from the national assembly allowing the PDM to play a one-sided match. This was followed by resignations from the Punjab and KP provincial assemblies. The ‘Azadi March’ was halted. They volunteered to go to jail, which was called off after the SC verdict that the elections in Punjab and KP have to be held in 90 days.

These are valid steps that are taken in a conventional political environment where moral appeal has weightage. The PDM has no qualms about being labelled as liars, cheats and thieves. You cannot insult a cockroach by calling it a cockroach.

Their speciality is blackmailing through illegal, clandestine videos made on all those individuals and their families who have anything to do with the judiciary, the police, the government regulatory bodies or the law enforcement agencies. The people of this country are hostage to bribery, extortion, coercion and threats by their own government. Any probability of a wrong being addressed or righted through a moral, ethical, judicial, administrative or an act of governance is highly remote and next to impossible.

So who can the people appeal to? None! No such office exists today in this ‘land of the pure’ that prides itself in the label that it has accredited to itself: ‘The Islamic Republic of Pakistan’. It is far from being an Islamic entity and even farther from being a republic of any kind. It must rename itself as ‘the lawless land of crime and corruption’, with its coat-of-arms changed to display the three proverbial monkeys – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

It is a travesty of democracy where the media is muzzled, opinions considered libellous, and any criticism labelled as a terrorist threat. The blatant lies of the government, though so transparently public, still suggest and insist that they only took this government position to provide relief to the people. That a 6% growth in the GDP has floundered to less than 2% and inflation has reached over 40% has no appeal to anyone’s conscience.

The government, in an unprecedented exhibition of callous perfidy, unmoved by the misery that they caused to the people of this country, brazenly and shamelessly amended laws so as to extricate themselves from the cases of theft and corruption. They then proceeded to accommodate the largest cabinet in the history of this hapless nation: 76 ministers, of which 23 do not even have a portfolio since there were no ministries left. Thus, the political responses and the peaceful reactions of the PTI may look reasonable and reflect a high moral pedestal, but they will remain ineffective.

So are there any corrective measures for such an aberration? I cannot find any conventional steps that can shake the conscience of the government or the powers that be other than the integral power of the people. It is the people who are sovereign. It is the people who first make up a State and its territories and then agree to be served by a government that is representative of the majority. It is the people who then approve the Constitution, which is a document limiting the powers of the government, thus protecting the people.

When the ethos of the State is lost, it spawns separatist movements and the country is plagued by insurgencies. When the Constitution is violated, it leads to tyranny, where injustice prevails. When the government is incompetent, indifferent and corrupt, an economic collapse is inevitable. Insurgency, anarchy, economic instability and injustice are the ingredients that make a failed State.

Is Pakistan a failed State? The people and the leadership can see all the mess unfold before them. Yet, there is no sign of remorse. There is an overwhelming indifference as people go about their business as if nothing has happened and what may happen will pass. It will not. The ship is sinking, and we are all going down with it.

The country is struggling to remain afloat as it is disowned by its own people, abandoned and set adrift in an ocean flooded by disloyalty, corruption and selfishness. One wonders who could measure up to the task of saving the State. Is there anyone who can stand tall, above board, with courage and moral standing?

PTI needs to understand that its centre of gravity is the people of this country. The State belongs to the people. People matter, and it is they who define Pakistan, not some ruling elite, dubious bureaucrat, self-righteous mullah or government mandarin. If these people, the multitudes that follow PTI, are not organised to come out onto the street to express their outrage, nothing will happen, and it will lead to political failure and PTI’s undoing.

It’s now when all else has failed, only the people on the street can make a difference. Unless a physical display of anger, frustration and resentment is projected, the political preferences, as being assessed and measured, will never be translated into reality. The government has to be overwhelmed by the shock and awe that huge crowds can evoke.

Lt Gen Tariq Khan retired as the head of Pakistan’s Central Command and has led the Frontier Corps to victory against TTP.

This column first appeared in Kashmir Newsline.

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