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A tragic flaw

The wise have always advocated moderation in every task one may undertake and every plan one may envisage. The problem, if any, is not as much as in what one may dream or desire to do. It relates to the selection of methods whereby one tries to accomplish it. That is where the dream goes sour and the citadel of hope that one may have raised could come crashing down.

The circumstances prevailing in our country present a classic example of how dreams can be demolished. The ideal of a vibrant and progressive society, as originally envisaged by the Quaid in his maiden address from the floor of the first constituent assembly back on August 11, 1947 has – though bruised and battered beyond recognition – managed to survive the brutalities of time and the evil machinations of their architects.

The dream contained in that groundbreaking address was soon replaced by an unwritten charter of not allowing the state to grow beyond the realm of remaining susceptible to total control. With time, it has been pushed deeper into the quagmire of despair and despondency. Whenever a sparkle of hope appeared to shine through, it was cruelly extinguished.

This intrinsic malaise was not confined to any one segment of society, or any one set of leaders. Its germs were widespread right across the domains of the civil and military rulers who were hoisted to power, or who placed themselves at the helm, each one proving to be more lethal than their predecessor. In the end, the state has virtually shrivelled to a skeleton, but the personal coffers of the power-wielders have ballooned in unimaginable proportions.

As the country continued to be skinned, the servile trumpeters carried on with their ingratiating and crass praise of the invincibility and incorruptibility of those who ascended the throne, conveniently garbed as the saviours of a shackled nation. All this happened when the bulk of the people desperately struggled with securing two basic meals a day with their self-respect and dignity constantly on the line.

With time, it has become a generational issue, unbound by the excesses or exigencies of time. The malady has spread fast and in an extremely lethal manner and has now grown to become a popular cultural phenomenon with every perpetrator trying to surpass the others in its clinical implementation exclusively for their personal profit and advancement. Any barriers which may accidentally appear to block their way are bludgeoned away with the combined might of power and pelf, thus paving the way for unchecked indulgence in depriving the state of its resources.

In the process, the country has become increasingly vulnerable to a host of exploitative tools wielded by the rich and powerful, the most lethal being a systematic dismantling of the state institutions. This has ensured the perpetrators’ reprieve from the prospect of being held accountable for their crimes and excesses. Thus, they rule with expansive fanfare, but no fear.

Because of internal divisions and disaffection, further compounded by the near-default economic situation, Pakistan has also been rendered susceptible to foreign intervention which has been visible in the near past. The manner in which the IMF has handled this situation is a veritable indication of how the claws of bilateral, multilateral and international interest groups have been digging in deeper with the passage of time and how they have now assumed the position of impacting state policies. This is as dangerous as it can get for the survival of a country which remains unable to stand on its own feet in the foreseeable future.

The fast-changing geo-political situation in the region and the prospect of another grievous venture is also going to leave its imprints on the deteriorating state in Pakistan. Not only do we have to guard against becoming a partner in any such damning undertaking; we also must assert our authority and our right to formulate and implement an independent foreign policy and keep ourselves away from causing any further damage to our woefully unstable situation.

That will not be possible when the country is divided along multiple fault lines which are the direct consequence of the imposition of a bunch of criminals as the rulers whose sole interest ever since being placed in power has been to amend, alter and enact laws which would put them beyond the fear of being held accountable for countless crimes and misdemeanours which they have been guilty of committing.

Relations with the Taliban government across the Western border have deteriorated over the past few months. This has synchronized with considerable increase in terrorist activities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, resulting in the martyrdom of scores of brave officers and soldiers. The spate of such activities has shown no signs of abating. As a matter of fact, a further increase is highly possible as statements emanating from the Taliban leadership are pregnant with threatening parlance.

Much that one may try, the situation in the region is inexorably moving towards heightening of tensions where Pakistan may yet again be asked to take sides. The principal target of this wicked exercise will be China which, at this defining juncture, is the most dependable and trustworthy friend and partner that we have which has stood by us through extremely testing times, as it does even now. Under mounting pressure from the US, even a single wrong step could send us hurtling into the pit of unfathomable crises.

Wisdom must define our decisions, not our traditional proclivities which have caused us much harm in the past. This is a contentious syndrome which, somehow, we remain captive of even now. But then, we must move on. The challenge is how?

This is not a simple matter. The path is strewn with deep potholes. As an essential prerequisite for being able to piece together a credible and sustainable policy to tackle external pressure, internal cohesion is a must. Without that, we would remain victims of our own insecurities and our self-destructive penchant which have neither delivered in the past, nor are they likely to this time if we take the plunge into the fire of violence and partisanship.

Apparently, sanity seems to be a far cry when all energies of the state and its institutions remain consumed with neutralizing Imran Khan who heads the only national political party which is also, by far, the largest across the four provinces of the country. While people talk of the lurking fear of being arrested, the real fear resides in the corridors of power where those who rule are gravely mortified of facing Khan at the hustings. We are the victims of a tragic flaw, beholding a macabre dance of the devil which shows no signs of abating.

Raoof Hasan, "A tragic flaw," The News. 2023-07-21.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Foreign policy , Taliban , Incorruptibility , Imran Khan , Pakistan , China , IMF