Friday January 27, 2023

There are no shortcuts

December 02, 2022

General (r) Qamar Javed Bajwa has walked into the sunset leaving behind a legacy that, in many ways, will haunt us for a long time to come. The damage inflicted upon the institution, and the country that was tried to be controlled through self-confessed interventions will take years to mend.

When one looks back at this time, one fails to unearth even a shred of rationale that may have prompted the actions which were unfurling in quick succession: the urge to lend perpetuity to the command of the army, the brazenness with which the prime minister’s foreign policy initiative was challenged, the denial of the conspiracy which is vouched for in the cipher sent by the (then) Pakistani ambassador in the US and its ratification by two succeeding (37th and 38th) meetings of the National Security Committee (NSC), one presided over by the (then) prime minister Imran Khan and one by his successor Shahbaz Sharif, the serving of the demarche to the conspirator country and so much else that followed the dismissal of the democratic and constitutional government of Imran Khan.

But the worst part would be the fogging out of the distinction between right and wrong and hoisting upon the country a bunch of convicts and alleged criminals to indulge in brazen deceit and perfidy including amending the laws of the land for the sake of washing away some gruesome marks from their faces. It may take years to fully gauge the damage that has been inflicted upon the country and how and when its impact may be nullified. This is not going to be a simple undertaking as crime and corruption are now the accepted norms.

The total moral collapse that such not-so-guileful interventions perpetuated tells the story of insatiable lust and greed. Be it lust for power or for money, all involved suffered from both in abundance. The full magnitude of their involvement will unfurl with time, the immensity of which may bedevil the hitherto known bounds of corruption.

The challenge now is to move on. We have a new commander at the GHQ. We must ensure that mistakes of the past are not repeated. Rather than leaving it to the whims of individuals, it may be more appropriate to charter a course that is transparent. It is only then that the state institutions will operate by staying within their stipulated domains. Having been subjected to relentless battering over the last decades from countless directions, this country is not left with enough strength to take any more of it. Consequently, it is the responsibility of everyone who has a position of power to ensure that the freedom, security and operational sanctity of state institutions are not transgressed, and they are allowed to perform their functions in strict conformity with the relevant constitutional provisions. This is the most fundamental requirement for pulling the country out of the pit that it has plunged into. It is a task which must be undertaken in earnest, and without any loss of time.

The concoction that goes around calling itself the government neither has any legitimacy, nor does it command the mandate of the people. It is the outcome of the foreign conspiracy that was wilfully denied in order to forfeit the country to the grip of a concoction of long-established criminals. The people of Pakistan have vehemently rejected this bunch, which has been demonstrated all over the country often and with undeniable expression of passion. In the last eight months, the country has also been pushed to the verge of default and there appears no credible remedy on offer to pull it back. Every day that passes takes it closer to the precipice.

Having led a sequence of rallies comprising hundreds of thousands of people to bring across to the incumbents the fast-deteriorating situation in the country and the need for holding early elections to induct a government that would be empowered with authority and mandate to initiate the much-needed transition, the PTI leadership has now decided to take the extreme step of dissolving the assemblies in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces to establish the gravity of the challenge that Pakistan faces. No other way was left to impress upon this cabal at the helm which is part of the legacy brokered through executing an internationally sponsored conspiracy. Remaining static at the current juncture would have continued to push the country further towards disaster.

The retrieval course is going to be extremely difficult. There are no easy solutions arrayed on the shelf which would be available even for a price. Total moral collapse is the most gruesome aspect that stares us in the face. Over the years, we have brought the country to a pass where a thief cannot be called a thief and a person who has indulged in remorseless loot and plunder is handed over the power to devise ways and methods to escape being held accountable for his crimes. In the process, headed by crooks and criminals, ever so eager to help their comrades in crime based in various echelons of power, the institutions have been rendered dysfunctional. The system is on the verge of collapse. There are no easy ways to mend it. It needs extensive overhaul which requires a decisive majority in the assemblies.

Knowing the extent of damage which has already been done to the country, Imran Khan has repeatedly stated that he would take over only if he has the majority to introduce far-reaching reforms to correct the flaws which have germinated over time. This requires at least a two-thirds majority in the national assembly with sizeable support in the Senate. That is the challenge for him and for the people of the country.

No easy ways and no shortcuts are available. The country must go the whole hog to be able to breathe again. Khan’s decision to dissolve his own governments in two provinces is the ultimate sacrifice that a conscientious leader can make for the sake of retrieving the country from the brink of disaster. He has decided to do it and is going through the process of consultations with his parliamentary parties to finalize it. That will put the ball in the court of the state institutions to move quickly towards holding free and fair elections which provide the only way for Pakistan and its people. They cannot be denied any further.

The writer is affiliated with the PTI, and served as a special assistant to former PM Imran Khan.