High-speed changing political spectrum

Asif Haroon RajaPOLITICS

Operation ‘Weaken Pakistan through covert war’ launched in 2002 by so-called allies of Pakistan was part of four-dimensional plan to destabilize, de-Islamize, denuclearize and destroy Pakistan. For eleven years concerted efforts have been made by the US and its allies grouped together in Kabul to achieve their objectives. The first phase of destabilization has progressed fairly well and today Pakistan’s socio-politico-economic-military fabric is seriously disheveled. Fast crumbling economy has made the state fragile and vulnerable to military intervention. But for deceptive friendship and slavish compliance of our leaders, this sort of progress was impossible to achieve by our so-called allies. So far it was intensely debated whether India or religious extremism cum terrorism was the existential threat to Pakistan’s security. It is now being said that the biggest threat is posed by the ruling coalition subservient to the wishes of Washington. In its near five-year tenure, the PPP led regime has left no stone unturned to destroy each and every institution of Pakistan and to bring bad name to democracy.

After ZA Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto’s efforts to secularize the society, secularism was promoted by Musharraf through his enlightened moderation concept under the garb of presenting a soft image of Pakistan to the world. Sudden expansion of TV channels was a step in that direction. Secularism was further promoted by PPP led liberal parties after they assumed power in 2008. These efforts were reinforced by India and the west through Indo-western cultural invasion to promote obscenity and vulgarity with the help of foreign movies, X-rated CDs, NGOs. Propaganda war was launched on electronic and print media to undermine Islamic culture. Two-nation theory, Islamic ideology and other settled issues were debated to sow seeds of doubts among the youth. Quaid-e-Azam was portrayed as a secularist. The US and India financed TV channels and journalists to sell their themes and manipulate perceptions.

Madrassahs, mosques, religious scholars, ulemas and Islamists dubbed as extremists and terrorists were hit hard to undermine Islamic culture. All these efforts were made by Indo-US-Western-Jewish lobbies with the help of liberal groups within Pakistan to soften the glue of Islam which kept the federating units and the people of differing cultures united and to transform the complexion of Pakistan to secularism. These sustained efforts have made seculars and liberals in minority into ultra liberals, but Islamists which are in great majority have clung to their Islamic moorings and Islam is spreading rather than getting curtailed.

The US sustained efforts to disable our nuclear program or force Pakistan to roll it back and handover the manufactured bombs for safe custody elsewhere because of threat posed by the militants have been foiled because of the dogged determination of the armed forces. Pakistan military’s nuclear deterrence has not been compromised and its conventional capability is still strong and robust despite the decade old fatiguing war on terror. Our nuclear arsenal has been made secure through multi-layered security system meeting international standards. Foolproof command and control mechanism of its nuclear arsenal and its nuclear production capability as well as missile power have an edge over Indian wherewithal. The nuclear and missile capabilities are constantly being upgraded to meet the Indian challenge. None of the service chief has got overawed with the presence of US-NATO in Afghanistan and India’s hostile posturing posing a twin threat.

The lawyer community was instrumental in getting chief justice Iftikhar and 60 judges of higher courts reinstated and in freeing the judiciary from the clutches of military-political bureaucratic power centres. Judiciary with a tainted past has got fully reinvigorated and it is asserting its independence resolutely. But for proactive judiciary, the country might have been sold off by now as was evident from memo case. Wrongdoers irrespective of their social status have been netted and the day is not far when each one would be punished. A sensational beginning was made when former PM Gilani was forced by Supreme Court (SC) to relinquish his charge.

Despite the fact that a segment of media has been bought by foreign powers, the media is playing an important role in highlighting the failings of the elites and ills of the society boldly. The stagnant civil society and the youth got energized during the lawyer movement and are now endeavoring to bring a healthy change in our decayed political system hinging on dynasties, Baradaries, power of wealth and the gun. The disillusioned people are abandoning the status quo lovers and flocking towards revisionists promising change.

The people have braved the hardships of power and gas outages, scarcity of food items, joblessness and pains of poverty and spate of suicide bombings/bomb blasts bravely. Financial hardships, poverty and insecurity have not lowered their spirits. In the depressed environment, Pakistan’s hockey team won Asian championship by flooring Indian team in the finals and our cricket team shared the trophy with India in T20s and won one-day series, both on India’s home ground. In the field of songs and music which is the domain of India, Pakistani singer Nabeel won the Sur Kshetra competition.

The military has kept itself restrained from taking over, despite extreme home pressure to intervene and Gen Kayani has promised to support democracy and to help in conducting free and fair elections. Tehrik-e-Insaf (TI) has emerged as a third political force to challenge the monopoly of status quo loving two mainstream parties. Dr Tahirul Qadri has also stepped in with his electoral reform program when elections are close by to add fuel to the rising political temperature. He is under severe criticism of all political parties except MQM, TI and PML-Q. His detractors are frantically trying to besmirch his image by calling him a Canadian working on someone else’s agenda.

Untested TI wants removal of corrupt leaders of the two mainstream parties seen by Imran as chips of the same block, equitable justice, effective taxation system and dialogue with estranged militants in FATA and Balochistan. Imran’s balloon to a large extent has been busted by Qadri who has snatched the initiative from him. Imran could have gained politically had he stuck to his earlier inclination to get associated with Qadri and participated in his long march. As part of damage control he hastened to join the sit-in of Hazaras in Quetta and has now asked President Zardari to resign. Opportunist MQM is supporting Dr Qadri but must be ruing its decision of backing out from his long march. This u turn however was to the advantage of Qadri. While MQM is pressing the government to accept Qadri’s demands and not to create any hurdles in his sit-in, it is unwilling to resign from federal and Sindh governments. Altaf is facing scathing attacks of people of Pakistan on his imprudent utterances against Quaid-e-Azam.

Two-time tried out PML-N desires true democracy to strengthen institutions and turning Pakistan into an Asian tiger, but it is dejected that its dream of wearing the crown is being sabotaged by Qadri. The ANP having lost many of its leaders and party activists at the hands of militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa want all political parties to get united and develop a consensus to take a decisive action against militancy. At the same time it has offered unconditional peace talks to TTP. Religious parties want interference of USA in domestic affairs to end, independent foreign policy, early resolution of Kashmir issue based on UN resolutions and implementation of constitution strictly in line with Quran and Sunnah. However, conceptually, all religious parties/group differ with each other.

Of late TTP and its affiliates have stepped up its attacks and at the behest of its patrons are trying to provoke the government to launch a major operation in North Waziristan thereby helping Hakimullah in reunifying divided TTP and mustering support of all other militant groups and putting up a united front against security forces. Attack on Malala and Peshawar airport and assassination of top ANP leader Bashir Bilour were undertaken by TTP with this hidden objective in mind. TTP has accepted government’s offer of talks provided it agrees to promulgate Shariah and not to insist on surrendering arms.

The PPP regime smug on having reached the tail-end of its five-year tenure was looking forward for a smooth transition of power, or preferably to win again, was suddenly confronted with multi-dimensional threats as if the events had been synchronized. On one hand, militants have stepped up their activities, and on the other Indian military have heated up the LoC. Drone strikes are continuing. MQM kicked up dust on the issue of delimitation of constituencies in Karachi. Dr Tahirul Qadri has added to the woes of PPP by staging a massive sit-in in Islamabad. Carnage in Quetta on January 10, wherein over 100 Hazaras died in terrorist attacks and hundreds got injured. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaishul Islam are behind most attacks on Shia Hazaras.

Under intense pressure, Zardari was forced to sack Aslam Raisani’s thoroughly corrupt, inept and insensitive government and impose Governor Rule for two months in the wake of sit-in by Hazara community in Quetta for four days and refusing to bury 86 dead bodies till the Army took over. Men, women and children protested in freezing cold silently and neither resorted to violence nor uttered a word against Pakistan. Dual-faced Fazlur Rahman and Akhtar Mengal, seemingly satisfied with weird Raisani, have not welcomed Governor Rule.

Chaudhri brothers vainly tried to hold back Dr Qadri from undertaking the long march but couldn’t break their past record of failures. Qadri’s impressive long march managed to reach Islamabad on the night of 14th despite hurdles created by Punjab and federal governments. He spelled out his seven-point agenda for change which revolves around electoral reforms under competent and independent caretaker government before elections. During his address to the lustily cheering people including women and small children on the following day, Qadri demanded immediate dissolution of national and provincial assemblies as well as Election Commission. He thundered that the executive head and legislators had lost the moral right to rule and must quit.

While he was still addressing, the SC gave another landmark judgment, ordering Chairman NAB to arrest PM Raja Ashraf and 16 others on account of their involvement in Rental Power Plant corruption case. Chief Justice was compelled to take this drastic step since NAB had failed to take any action on its verdict given in March 2012 despite repeated reminders. It may be recalled that to add insult to injury, President Zardari had appointed under trial Raja Ashraf as replacement of sacked PM Gilani. Except for the types of Asma Jahangir and Hamid Mir, the SC decision was hailed by the people and they danced ecstatically. Jubilant Qadri told the audience to offer thanksgiving prayers.

With Ashraf in the dock, the ultimatum given by Dr Qadri has compounded the dilemma of Zardari and his gang of thieves. In case D Chowk multitude doubles up on 16th, and the swelling crowd stays on for two to three days or more, Zardari and his band will either have to roll up their beddings voluntarily or face the wrath of the people. Any silly mistake by Rahman Malik will trigger uncontrollable reaction from the charged up crowd. What is required is coolness of mind and sagacious handling of the delicate situation. The government should immediately hold parleys with Dr Qadri, seriously consider his seven demands which are backed by the people and adopt a conciliatory posture. He should be consulted in forming a caretaker government and the process of long due electoral reforms may be undertaken to put an end to the practice of rigged elections.

The writer is a retired Brig, a freelance columnist and a defence analyst. Email: asifharoon7751@yahoo.com

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