Anarchic neutrality



March 19, 2022


Any democratic governance dispensation is always open to hostile takeover as democracy essentially is about dispersal of power whereby it could be regularly contested but the Pakistani practice about ushering in and disposing off democratic regimes is completely out of context. It is widely recognised that democracy is noisy but this hullabaloo is considered the essential element of this acclaimed system of governance. The disturbing element in this exercise comes when those in power start using the state machinery and resort to violence to suppress their opponents. This unusual pattern is the direct result of the structure of Pakistani politics that is, as often claimed, neither pyramidal nor monolithic but in fact is a confusion of private loyalties, private empires and private intelligence systems.
Pakistani structure also does not fit in the designed description of irresponsible absolutism as it is incompatible with totalitarian administration for in the uncertainty of politics, the danger of arbitrary change, and the fear of personal revenge, every man whose position makes him either strong or vulnerable must protect himself against surprise by reserving from the common pool whatever power he has managed to acquire. Unfortunately such reliance ultimately results in leaving no pool in the end. It is well-known that the irresponsibility of the ruler causes irresponsibility of the citizen badly damaging the concept of a common cause that no longer exists outside propaganda. In the event politics becomes the politics of anarchy which the personal power of an elected despot may conceal but cannot alter.
The most problematic issue is that if this absolutism remains unchecked and uncontrolled by supposedly decisive forces in the land then it is vain to suppose that any internal democratic resistance could correct it. This is where it is required that falsified stances are abandoned and replaced by realistic positions with the aim to devise methods aimed at rectifying the current hysteria prevalent in the country. There is hardly any doubt that the military establishment has solidified its position as the ultimate arbiter in national affairs and this situation goes back to more than half-a-century. It is quite natural therefore that it has, to some substantial and to some peripheral, role to play in emergence of political elements that look up at it in times of stress.
The notion that the establishment is neutral in any given situation is contradiction in terms and proclaiming it publicly is a misnomer and should be avoided as it creates a false image and casts profound doubts in the collective perception of the populace. This position becomes highly untenable when viewed in the backdrop of the fact that the establishment has been found traditionally involved in the political affairs of the country since the last so many decades. Though it has incessantly tried to proclaim its neutrality in the past but evidence has proved to be contrary to its pronouncements that are not appropriate, to say the least.
It is widely recognised that over the years establishment has been pursuing the policy of broadening its influence in the country and appears to be aiming at widespread institutional control that would substantially increase its influence levels. It is duly noted that the role of establishment has expanded beyond domestic politics and national security to governance and foreign and economic policies to the extent that the official role of the democratic prime minister has pitiably been limited to decide increase or decrease in fuel and electricity prices. The overweening impact of establishment’s involvement is palpably felt on almost all aspects of the polity including judiciary and the media. It is often found influencing the business circles with the result that most activity related to national commerce and trade appears to be a command performance. The result obviously is the current hybrid regime that is widely held to be controlled and managed by the so-called hidden hand.
The most worrying aspect of the entire exercise is the insistence of the establishment to be pronounced and treated neutral totally against the prevailing reality. This attitude seriously harms the cause of governance by portraying something unreal whereas what is desperately needed is a rationally charted national position. It should be kept in view that colours of pretended postures are not only highly misleading but also extremely damaging in the long run. It should also be borne in mind that reality is principally more potent than a varnished pretension with the added advantage that it has the wherewithal to declare itself in ways more than one. It is not very cumbersome to realise that the current political impasse is the tragic repeat of what periodically happens in this benighted land powerfully indicating that the country is moving cyclically with hardly any chance of coming out of such disastrous limbo with potentially hazardous outcome. TW


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