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Sunday November 27, 2022

The curse of servitude

March 11, 2022

The crescendo that was being drummed up for weeks and months has finally subsided. The dreaded no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan has been submitted to the National Assembly Secretariat. With slightly over a year remaining in the tenure of the incumbent government, what is it that made the opposition so desperate as to go for a potentially embarrassing venture?

Addressing a massive public gathering at Mailsi last Sunday, the prime minister dilated upon the causes of the move. He accused the leaders of the opposition of having committed massive corruption and termed the threat of no-confidence a means to get away with the spoils of their illicit earnings and escape the count of justice. He took them on individually and laid bare their grave misdeeds spread over more than three decades.

He also questioned the public statement of some ambassadors and high commissioners based in Islamabad and asked them whether they had written a similar letter to India which, too, had abstained from supporting the UN resolution. He went on to say that Pakistan followed an independent foreign policy and was within its right to decide how to proceed on matters in various domains. He rejected any pressure in this context and said that Pakistan is not interested in playing ‘block’ politics and, instead, will develop and maintain good bilateral and multilateral relations with all, particularly its neighbours and other countries in the region.

The timing of the statement issued by the European ambassadors has raised many eyebrows. This has come in the midst of the agitation led by the opposition parties and the vote of no-confidence having been moved against the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Khan. According to reports, millions upon millions are being offered as inducement by these desperados to buy legislators from the ruling party willing to change sides – a practice not uncommon in the country in situations when the stakes are really high, as is the case in the current instance. In the event the move to remove the incumbent government fails, most of the opposition leaders would be staring at the harrowing prospect of their political obliteration as there are numerous cases of serious financial irregularities at an advanced stage of prosecution before the courts of law.

It is also a reality that one seldom sees a leader like Imran Khan who has the courage to talk with conviction and candidness with core focus remaining on the national paradigm and how it can be served in the evolving situation. There is not an iota of hesitation in his discourse that Pakistan’s interests would always remain supreme. This should be viewed in the backdrop of the customary leaders who willingly and repeatedly surrendered the writ of the state before the Western onslaught, be it in the conflict in Afghanistan and other parts of the world, or the war against terror, the drone attacks or the forfeiture of national sovereignty in issuance of visas to CIA contractors.

This was necessitated owing to the ceaseless spate of corruption that the very same leaders indulged in to defraud the state of its assets and build their personal financial empires in foreign lands. This became the exploitative tool which these Western powers always dangled in front of them to ensure that they would remain hostage to serve their interests at the cost of Pakistan’s own. These were the chains of bondage that infamously hung around their necks as a medal of infamy.

It appears that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s endeavour to forge an independent foreign policy for Pakistan is not acceptable to the US and the European countries. It is also strange that this is finding resonance among the entire opposition conglomerate of the country, and they are singing the same tune by coming out openly on the side of the Western countries against their own. On the one hand, this is a reflection of their desperation to get rid of the incumbent government irrespective of the damage it may accrue to Pakistan and, on the other, it is a step aligned with the Western project of destabilising the country so that they could again bring into power the same coterie of leaders who, as a measure of persistent subservience, were used to following their command in the past.

This makes for a strange confluence of interests. Having lost hope of pressuring Imran Khan to play ball like they have been used to with the previous leaderships, the US and the European countries are jointly pursuing the project of destabilising Pakistan from within to keep it under their tutelage with the connivance and abetment of the opposition parties which are desperate to get rid of the government to save their skins from serving their terms in jail. The meetings that US officials have been conducting with leaders of the opposition individually only help put the dots together of the sinister plan that is unfurling.

Let’s not leave out another key player which has been active in the game plan: India. Their interest in helping Nawaz Sharif stay in power by winning the last elections was never a secret. Their involvement in the election process in 2018 on the side of the Sharifs was said to have been blatant and their despondency when the desired result was not achieved could not be transcribed in words. Their consequent induction in the game plan of destabilising Pakistan should also be viewed in the context of ‘contain China’ policy to stop it from becoming the lead economic power of the world, thus denting the US and Western hegemony over the international financial empire.

Pakistan is caught up in a confluence of inimical interests which are out to damage the potential of its emergence as a genuinely independent and sovereign country, empowered to formulate and implement policies to its advantage. This move also comes when the region is transiting through critical times because of the situation in Ukraine and Afghanistan which can disturb numerous permutations. But this is no reason for these Machiavellian operators and their conniving sponsors to let go. As a matter of fact, they will further accelerate their efforts to render Pakistan even more vulnerable to exploitation.

The tentacles of subservience are dug in very deep. This curse of servitude is excruciatingly embarrassing, but the chants of freedom are deafening. People want to see the end of this demeaning tradition of wilting before masters, this maniacal indulgence of forfeiting the state in exchange for securing personal stakes. Given the unflinching resolve of Prime Minister Khan, it is only a matter of time that the vote of no-confidence is defeated, the curse of servitude is cast off, and the state retrieves its dignity and self-respect.

The writer is the special assistant to the PM on information, a political and security strategist, and the founder of the Regional Peace Institute. He tweets @RaoofHasan

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