Friday February 03, 2023

A state of denial

January 20, 2017

We are a country that will turn 70 years old this year. The baggage of classical errors and hideously misplaced policies continue to be a festering wound for us.

We are a country where the political elite’s hunger for self-serving interests and the military’s self-righteous overtures have so conveniently undone the once thought-out narrative. Pakistan could have been a welfare state. But today it’s a national security state which exists in a state of denial.

This entails the denial of constitutionally-protected civilian supremacy, of the fact that the accountability is not to be done by those who themselves are accountable and of the fact that the military is an asset and not an option for the country.

The country is in a state of denial about the existence of human rights, which clearly suggest that people cannot be abducted or killed for their religious or other beliefs. It is in a state of denial towards the fact that, once created, proxies and assets always come back to haunt us. There is also a flagrant denial of the fact that nations collapse if the enemy within is not eliminated.

Since its inception, Pakistan never really managed to become the country which it was meant to be. The weak civilian dispensations prevented Pakistan from coming close to the concept of civilian supremacy. As a result, it never flourished and today it gets walked over at every critical juncture. Be it the case of the ‘Dawn leaks’ or any other issue, the civilians have to bend over backwards to prove that they are relevant and not part of every problem.

Similarly, across-the-board accountability is not tolerated in Pakistan – not even in theory. This is because accountability is considered germane only to politicians and not to others. Ironically, accountability is expected from the military which, at least in theory, is itself accountable for its decisions, spending, successes and failures.

It’s a travesty that the role of the military is greatly exaggerated in Pakistan and tends to foster bizarre ideas. A few desperate minds still think that military rule, a military-backed rule or a military-backed change of regime is still an option for Pakistan. Even after seven decades these kinds of ideas still find ample place to thrive.

The latest disposition of these ideas was reflected in the 2014 dharna and the failed attempt in 2016 to lock down Islamabad. Even after an extensive campaign for human rights and under a much-touted civilian government, people are abducted from the federal capital and some parts of Punjab with complete impunity and perfection. No questions are asked and so no answers are given.

It is equally ominous that we have proudly rented ourselves for someone else’s war in the Afghan Jihad and created monsters. We have bloated our tummies with petrodollars and waited till these friends turn into our foes. ‘Jihad’ has resulted in more destruction within Pakistan. It is unfortunate that even after the colossal loss of over 50,000 civilians, soldiers and officers, we still do not know who the real enemy is.

The duplicity in our approach is being subjected to criticism. After the demise of the divide between good and bad Taliban, we have proudly presented another divide between good and bad sectarian banned outfits. We still stand at square one to see where we have to go. But the dictates of history suggest that our ability and vision to foresee things is blurred. The only lesson we have learnt is that lessons are never learnt. 

The writer works for Geo News.

Email: muneebfarooqraja@