Institutions are evolving though belatedly
SOME writers, media men and so-called liberals have the penchant to denigrate Pakistan’s institutions including judiciary and military and are critical of the decisions taken by the government. While commenting on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the $6 billion package one writer in his recent article in national English daily sarcastically remarked: “Khan went to ‘Davos in the Desert’ ignoring the international outcry over the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi hitmen in Turkey, allegedly on the orders of the powerful crown prince. The prime minister was rewarded. There are no strings attached to this generosity, we are told. But does it give any leverage to an indebted nation to push its benefactor to end a brutal war?” The writer seems to be oblivious of the change in US policy whereby President Doland Trump insists that the war in Yemen must end.
This time round there are divisions in the Arab countries; Qatar and Oman and Saudi Arabia are not on the same page on many issues including situation in Yemen. With the changing political landscape in the region, Saudi Arabia needs Pakistan more than any time in the past. Yet the author wrote: “It is hard to believe that such a generous Saudi financial package has no costs…There is no reason to believe that the new Pakistani government has backtracked on its pledge not to send troops to Yemen. There is more to the bargain than the government is prepared to disclose.” Having that said, chattering classes are critical of Pakistan’s institutions vis-à-vis military as well as judiciary when the verdict is contrary to their desires and expectations; or when they want to create confusion and denigrate Pakistan’s institutions at the behest of their masters.
They do not understand the fact that after decades of military dictatorship and civilian autocratic rules, the state institutions are perhaps for the first time finding a climate of openness to breathe in. They are evolving and finding their feet, and in the process things are happening that were unimaginable before. The higher judicial appointments were once the sole preserve of the superior judiciary alone. But now the legislative branch too has a say in them. Likewise parliamentary enactments were earlier deemed the last word, but now they are open to judicial scrutiny for their constitutionality. Such confusions and bickering would persist until the institutions evolve to establish mutually acceptable and accommodative practices. But tiffs and disputes are not unknown even to the entrenched democracies with long-held traditions and norms. Appallingly, certain segments of ‘thinking class’ and media in Pakistan are displaying quite a churlish cavalierism.
Instead of bridging the gulf between the institutions they are out trying to widen chasms between them. Of course, a broad dialogue between the top leaders of the executive, legislative and judicial branches could help so that the evolution process occurs in a harmonious way. For almost half a century, the profligacy of the ruling elite and politics of power and pelf have brought the country to the brink of economic collapse and social disaster. The state apparatus had fallen to personalized whims and self-aggrandizement. As a result, Pakistan still faces multifaceted crisis and finds itself at the crossroads of its destiny. Pakistan is, indeed, bestowed with material resources but both the state and society remained clueless as to how to capitalize on these rich resources, release the immense latent energy and reach the ultimate goal of spiritual emancipation, prosperity, social cohesion and solidarity of the people.
Of course, Pakistan paid a heavy price in men (citizens and army personnel) and in material firstly by supporting Afghan jihad in early 1980s on the behest of the US and West, and once again by joining the war on terror after 9/11 events when militants went berserk, and Pakistan had to conduct operations in Swat, South Waziristan and North Waziristan, and combing operations in whole of Pakistan. It took ten years to eliminate terrorists and to bring peace in Swat valley. On Oct 22, Pak Army handed over administrative powers of the Swat region to the civilian authorities, ending a decade-long military operation to flush out Taliban militants led by Mullah Fazlullah from the region. The tyranny and barbarism of Indian sponsored terrorism had converted the scenic beautiful Swat to the valley of misery and massacres. Terrorists destroyed educational institutions and economic activities had come to standstill.
Terrorism cannot be defeated by evading responsibilities and resorting to blame game as is being done by the players operating in the region, but can be eliminated by determination and professionalism like the one displayed by Pakistan Armed Forces supplemented with the national resolve. India and Afghanistan blame Pakistan for supporting terror outfits to carry out attacks in their respective countries, whereas the facts on ground are different and there is incontrovertible evidence that India is sponsoring terrorism in the region using Afghan soil with complete connivance of Afghan authorities. However, Pakistan is committed not to allow Pakistan’s soil to be used against Afghanistan or any other country of the region. Pakistan’s problems are compounded because of economic challenges; however Saudi Arabi, China and other friendly countries are trying to help extract Pakistan from the financial crunch it is in.