By Brig (R) Samson Simon Sharaf
The writer is a political economist and a television anchorperson. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Historically, events of an identical nature have remarkable tendencies to happen simultaneously but take diverging courses. Though we tend to see the political and social landscape of Pakistan in disarray, it is noteworthy that the entire surrounding region is undergoing political and social convulsions. These interconnected dynamics make exclusions difficult, but let us begin from Pakistan’s national security threats.
Historically, Pakistan has been over-reactive to military threats, but has always been timid and susceptible to other forms of non-kinetic threats. The notion of a security state has always eclipsed the welfare state in which the elites have willfully exploited the void for gains at the cost of the people and country. Much that could never have been ceded on the battlefield has been willingly lost in the non-kinetic warfare. Pakistan and its surroundings are passing through shifting dynamics. Unless policy makers make efforts to comprehend the issue, the loss will be Pakistan’s. Opportunities, however adverse, can be converted to advantage. Pakistan is known to squander even the best. The massive and spontaneous uprisings in held Kashmir that could have been exploited by Pakistan for its cause are only paid lip service.
The political landscape is extremely polarised on ethical, and governance issues. Making headlines is the Panama Case, in which the Prime Minister’s family and friends are allegedly involved in self-serving legislation, money laundering, undeclared offshore accounts, properties, wrong declarations and lies. All regulatory, accountability and transparency organisations stand politicised, compelling the Supreme Court in exercise of Article 190 to launch its own investigations. This over arching into the executive function is unprecedented but the only constitutional recourse to make the ‘Rule of Law’ effective. The responsibility of preventing Pakistan from falling into anarchy now falls on the Supreme Court.
Dawn’s planted stories affirm the Indian narrative to offset pressure in IHK, Afghan allegations and a flawed/failed US policy in Afghanistan. These seek to make Pakistan a scapegoat. The dysfunction between the political and defence establishment is highlighted by the absence of a counter terrorism policy, public differences over national security breaches and a wrong definition of civil-military relations. Internationally sponsored national reconciliation emboldens the federal government to stubbornness. This reinforces propaganda that the military arm twists a political government. The present COAS, despite his friendly approach, has been deprived spurs by the federal government in self and not national interests. Since 2008 the military has allowed democracy to function with no intentions of intervention. It facilitates the system to reform and prevail. But the fury of propaganda and perception building, at home and abroad, suggest Pakistan’s diffraction of a rouge and corrupt country.
Adding insult to injury, the country is also fighting a directionless war against a wide definition of terrorists. These are stateless groups from TTP to Daesh to sectarian killers to armed assets of political parties. Justice Qazi’s Quetta Commission Report is an indictment how some sectarian groups belonging to Punjab operate with abandon in Balochistan and affect the Pakistan-Iran region. These groups are in hibernation in Punjab but continue operating elsewhere. By Kulbashan Yadez’s and Ehsanullah Ehsan’s own admissions, they enjoy Indian patronage and funding. Recently more than 13 Indians died in Eastern Afghanistan due to a US MOAB attack. Though Indian media branded them as ISIS recruits, intelligence information suggests they were RAW trainers whose patrons Ajit Doval and Prime Minster Modi have sworn to smite Pakistan. It is no wonder that same elements were used against Pakistan to kick start a new wave of Pakistan-Iran acrimony.
India’s declared secularism is taking a severe battering at the hands of a Saffron Brigade. The rights of social and religious minorities are being shrunk. Modi’s regime looks the other way when these hordes monitor, discipline and punish Hindu converts, those who challenge the caste system, those suspected of eating beef or doing anything contrary to the Hindu way of life. According to Anish Kapoor in the Guardian, “The Hindu god Vishnu has several incarnations, many of them human. The latest of these appears to be Narendra Modi. All over India there are images of the man, right arm raised in the benevolent gesture of good fortune. But this strong-but-enlightened-man image hides the frightening and shrill reality of an increasingly Modi-led Hindu dominance of India.” He dares to opine that, “India is being ruled by a Hindu Taliban”. Though the book ‘Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India’ by Thomas Blom Hansen describes saffron as a democratic transformation, the Sang Parivar’s seeks to take it way beyond Hindutva. It also indicates that this rise suits western designs and will not be challenged. The Indian socio-political body is under immense pressure and bursting at the seams. In the absence of a viable opposition, this is an extremely dangerous trend where the basic elements of nationhood and syncretism are being challenged. This means the “merging or assimilation of several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, thus asserting an underlying unity and allowing for an inclusive approach to other faiths and cultures”.
This jingoism is most viciously reflected in Indian ruthlessness in held Kashmir and Indian covert operations against Pakistan from Iran and Afghanistan. Indian propaganda and strategic management ensures that its jabs repaint International perceptions of Pakistan as a rouge state. Large Indian presence in Middle East must be seen as an encirclement strategy to exert more pressure on Pakistan.
Both the Afghan resistance and ISIS are gaining ground in Afghanistan for different reasons. The Pashtun fabric that united Afghanistan and adjoining regions of Pakistan for centuries is being torn apart. Afghan resistance is local, with the sympathy of Pashtun and Gujjar factions. This is a fact of history and US-Indian presence in Afghanistan cannot change it. ISIS is yet another militant export from Middle East to irk Iran, China, Russia, Pakistan and Afghan militants. The Afghan Government and military are very weak mainly because they do not represent the people. The US categorisation of the enemy is flawed and so is the logic of dumping its failures on Pakistan. Crises in Afghanistan are societal in nature juxtaposed with international geo-strategy. The solution lies in Pakistan’s initiative of 1996 in which Pakistan can act as a facilitator but not a controller. But then think, isn’t instability in Afghanistan a plank of policy to keep many countries of the region in check? Russian and Chinese influence in Afghanistan is growing and could result in a renewed surge of militancy. It is India and not Pakistan that is part of the problem.
West Asia exerts a massive overhang over Pakistan. Ever since its revolution, Iran has sustained international pressures and advanced its own geo-politics. Its policies affect Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It uses India as leverage against Pakistan, as much as Saudi Arabia does. Saudi Arabia, its main rival, is fully supported by the West designs and is the turf for Shia- Sunni conflict. These dynamics are also spilling over into Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is strange that both Saudi Arabia and Iran, claiming leadership of the two main factions of Islam raise no voice against the atrocities against Muslims by the Saffron hordes in India.
In Pakistan’s political economy, self-aggrandisement, personal relations with outside rulers (even if it is enemy), corruption, nepotism, jobbery and greed far outweigh compulsions of national security. These are the moths that fly gleefully around the flames of a burning Pakistan. With Panama and Dawn, Pakistan has become a laughing stock of the world.