Friday, April 12, 2024

Is Pakistan Dying?

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Most Pakistani thinkers these days talk of Pakistan sliding into Anarchy. Hmm. Anarchy…Anarchically speaking it rhymes with Anarkali…of  Mughal E Azam fame. Pakistan the modern day ‘state’ version of Anarkali was courted by numerous suitors – USA, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey et al. It cavorted with all of them for the past seventy five years with a  ‘Pyar kiya toh darna kya’ attitude. Legend goes that when Anarkali’s waywardness  was found out, she paid the price of cavorting around. She was ordered to be walled alive. Is something similar happening to Pakistan? It is being walled out brick by brick? Is the state dying?  Lets examine it.

The President of Pakistan announces elections to Punjab and KP assemblies. The Election Commission of Pakistan says he has no right to do so. The Prime Minister terms the move illegal. The Election Commission turns to the attorney general. The Chief Justice of the supreme court takes suo-moto notice of the matter. He describes the affair as being of “high constitutional importance”. However the fact is that the President it is openly known to be acting is acting on behalf of Imran Khan. It is a politico-constitutional crisis of the highest order in which the highest institutions of the state are wrangling like in a fish market.

The TTP is rampant. The Army does nothing. It continues with its fantasy of defending Pakistan  against a non-existent threat from India. Talks with TTP fail. Taliban which was freed from ’the shackles of slavery’ by Pakistan is approached. They want Pakistan to pay them to disarm and relocate the TTP into Afghanistan. In the meanwhile TTP continues on its rampage. Every day they are popping off Pakistani soldiers like nine pins. All this while, the Army is sitting pretty, continuing to prey on a dying state. It will put vultures to shame. In the meanwhile, there are separatist / quasi separatist movements in Baluchistan and Pashtun areas.

As per popular discourse at this point of time,  Pakistan is gripped by political,  economic , religious and separatist chaos. Underneath this veneer is the raw violence and conflict, lack of freedom, lack of rights and the lack of economic opportunity to survive. That scratches only the surface . The subsurface werewolf is the heart of the matter. It is the inability of the land and its natural elements including an impending absolute scarcity of water to support the burgeoning population. All these put together are forcing Pakistanis to increasingly flee their land. When people of a nation are risking their meagre life earnings to smuggle themselves out of Pakistan in utter hopelessness, it is clearly an indication that something is dying.

Internationally, no one wants to touch Pakistan. Not the Chinese. Not the Saudis. Definitely not the Americans. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, it is on its own. It is in deep debt to almost any nation you can think of. Game changers like CPEC have only changed the game for the worse. Foreign exchange reserves are down to less than a month’s requirements. The Chinese dole of 700 million USD will barely keep Pakistan afloat for another month.

The IMF is not budging and will not release the last tranche of the instalment since Pakistan is not meeting its conditions.

Even if it does, Pakistan’s financial and economic problems will not be resolved to meet the requirements. It is only kicking the can down the road. In the meanwhile, inflation has hit the 40% mark. Daily need items are going out of the reach of the commoners.

As per Ashraf Jehangir Qazi in Dawn , every major institution and influential group of people has failed the country: the government; the army and intelligence apparatus; the judiciary; parliament; political leaders and parties; the media; the educational and health systems; the civil services; the landed, business and religious elites; etc. Together they have ensured a failed state. In fact he states that Pakistan has degenerated from the tragic to the pathetic to the absurd. Not even December 1971 compares with the listless gloom that engulfs the country today. He is right by all standards.

Under these circumstances,  there are rich people in Pakistan, who drive around in imported luxury vehicles to queue up for pastries and coffee @ Rs 700 per cup and hold lavish parties without even blinking an eyelid.  These cake eaters, are those who have swindled the government, the ordinary people and scores of others. The Pakistani Army heads the list unambiguously. These rich people do not care a damn for people who are still affected by floods and still struggling to put two square meals on their plates. When editorials report that people eat less, travel less and children are desperate to even eat and drink surely something must be dying.

According to the Quran, cities and nations run by a corrupt and sinful affluent class are destined to perish. No force of skill can prevent their eventual doom.  Does this apply to Pakistan? Of course it does. Cake eating elites, power hungry politicians, greedy military men and  militarised zealots spurred by radicalised clerics make up the ‘corrupt and sinful affluent’ who run Pakistan. The Quran also testifies that no amount of material wealth, economic power and military might can save a morally corrupt nation from self-destruction. In the case of Pakistan,  material wealth and economic power is defunct but its morally corrupt military is a great ingredient of self-destruction. Before you think that I am a Quranic scholar, let me  clarify. These are the thoughts of a Pakistani cultural psychoanalyst in an article titled ‘Why Nations Fail’. His ideas and thought processes in the article are through a Quranic prism. If one goes by his benchmarks,  Pakistan is a dying state.

The ‘path of instability’ widens into a ‘road to perdition’ in a land ‘not so holy any more’ which is paying the price of ‘elite capture’ as Pakistan sees its ‘institutions as battlegrounds’ in a ‘drift towards anarchy’. This is not a great piece of English literature of the Mark Twain class or some original thought of mine from the Einstein stable. It is just piecing together headlines of op-eds by Pakistanis in a cut and copy mode. Put all these together and your own general knowledge of Pakistan, you will get the idea and drift.  What is happening in Pakistan is clearly a fundamental and irretrievable shift. In fact, in my opinion, Pakistan has crossed a Rubicon into the point of no return. I am not alluding to mere anarchy in the country anymore. I hear the “elegy on the death of a mad dog” as narrated by Oliver Goldsmith. It goes like this “ The dog and man at first were friends; But when a pique began, The dog, to gain some private ends, Went mad, and bit the man….the man recovered of the bite, the dog it was that died” . What happens next is anybody’s guess.

 

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