Major General Ovais Mustafa (Retd) offers his opinion about the current situation
Since my last write up, things at the new government level stand as they were. Some sort of Immediate Elections paralysis seems to have gripped all those who were vociferous in their condemnation of the out going government but one month on have little to show for the time spent in office. There was the mandatory Saudi Arabia sojourn, whether it was a purely spiritual journey or an effort to repatch the begging bowl, remains undeclared. That the originally planned circus to Saudi Arabia with PIA ordered to take out a 777 from service to ferry the troupe of free loaders had to be abandoned under public pressure is but a small consolation. There was also the summons from London that enabled the entire cabinet to spend a few cool days at the feet of our erstwhile masters, the propriety of which no one felt or feels important to explain. The supra–Prime Minister had to prove that it just takes the snapping of his fingers to line up the entire cabinet at his doorstep, at government expense of course.
On the other side of the divide, the PTI is breaking all records of public gatherings. A relentless, nonstop demonstration of public support is on display – the demeaning epithets coined by PDM like ‘incompetent’, ‘selected’ etc., now giving way to sinister ones like ‘security risk’ or ‘cult figure’. The slide from a dismissive attitude to one of fear is most palpable in the PDM leadership. They probably underestimated the ire of public and thought that the wheels of power would enable them to roughshod those they had connived to replace. Ditto for those who winked them on and shaped the environment for the vote of no confidence.
So, here we stand, an installed government– ‘imported’ being the closest adjective – keen to take decisions related to placing favorites in important positions. That those important positions have the influence to stall or derail court proceedings, even tamper evidence of ongoing court cases is not seen as improper, speaks of the moral state we have fallen to. Add to that the recent court decision about ineligibility of dissident’s vote, and some, another suo-moto notice which now look like attempts to regain some relevance amongst masses. They nevertheless could have weighty implications, lifeline in form of loopholes in the judgment notwithstanding. If only the honourable judges had not set aside the Presidential reference earlier.
One does wonder, and it is a quite a realistic wonder, whether the decision made now about the dissident’s vote had been made before the suo-moto by Supreme Court; would that have saved us from all the turmoil that erupted recently? The decision to not allow voting against the party on whose mandate members get elected definitely would have given some serious cause to many to rise above petty party considerations and think hard which way to vote during the Prime Ministers vote of no confidence. We live in a strange world, but at some critical times the behaviour of the custodians of rights of citizens finds no equal in strangeness. The setting aside of hearing of the critical issue of vote propriety may very well fall in that category. The damage to national cohesiveness has been grievous and we can just hope and pray that it will not be fatal. Some luminaries have a lot to answer for.
It seems however that all that has happened was pre-ordained – establishment, politicians, judiciary were made to act in their peculiar but set ways by providence. Maybe, just maybe it was divine intervention to make people of Pakistan realise how cruelly they have been manipulated by external powers. The unintended consequences of a haughty note do seem to suggest that. Pakistanis have been literally paying through blood to enable western powers maintain their high standards of living – a reality that has so far been camouflaged by false leaders. Lest this sound farfetched, the reader may just consider the numerous wars that have been inflicted on hapless nations to satiate their defense industries; Iraq and Libya being reminders of that reality. The Ukrainian war will in all probability fall into the same category once the dust settles – manufactured reasons to generate conflicts.
Where do we go from here? The awareness about foreign interference then may well have now led to a situation such that whatever happens next will now largely hinge on internal dynamics of our country. The leverage of foreign powers is now reduced somewhat with dictation being no longer an option. Therefore, while foreign influence will continue to impact, the reality is that as the nation shows resolve, the import of such a resolve will not be lost on those who desire to remain relevant in this vital geostrategic area. We literally stride the crossroads of superpowers! A lot of huff and puff, sanctions maybe but eventually reconciliation to new realities. After all objectives can also be pursued through ‘soft approach’. That may sound wishful but has been done by others and can be done by us. India-US strategic partnership being a good example.
The key requirement is leadership that can stand up and be supported by an aware polity on the strength of its openness and sincerity. That is the need of the hour which is therefore – Sincere Leadership. How do we get that leadership? The answer lies in immediate election with administrative backup that ensures that it is fair and transparent. Sadly, with the Election Commission totally compromised who would have the wherewithal to ensure such transparency? If we ever needed an impartial caretaker, it is now. The option of aloofness no longer exists. TW