HUMAYUN GAUHAR | 25 FEBRUARY, 2017
Is This the Beginning of the End for Nawaz Sharif?
ISLAMABAD: Are we witnessing the last days of Nawaz Sharif? I don’t know so perilous is our situation and so perfidious have our ruling classes become. It can be said with a certain modicum of confidence though that we are witnessing the beginning of the end. How long it takes is anyone’s guess.
Whether Nawaz Sharif stays or goes matters little in the long sweep of things. His departure will cause temporary titillation to many and fuel our loquacious chattering class and chai khanas, but then what? Another election? In this odious system we will only get another Nawaz Sharif or Asif Zardari. So?
The question that matters most is: are we witnessing the end of our putrid, loathsome political system that throws up gangsters, plunderers and killers? If that is so, then there is much to celebrate for change for the better is better than no change at all.
Hopefully, it will be a change toward a just and egalitarian system that would rid us of this huge gang of thieves who have not only occupied every lever of government but of business and agriculture as well and everything that comes under them. All — repeat all — institutions and regulatory bodies have collapsed: you only have to meet or even see their heads and you will believe me even though they are unbelievable.
The good thing that may come out of Nawaz Sharif’s departure is the process of change to another system. That means changing the Constitution that has been reduced to a joke by repeated governments, legislatures and unelectable goofs masquerading as politicians.
That’s all very well, but how can change take place that is good and lasting? Who will do it? The army? Forsooth. They have tried it four times before and not only fallen flat on their faces every time, shining stars and all, but created and left behind many of our greatest problems for us to suffer.
Our biggest problems are our political leaders: remember that Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Altaf Hussain are all creatures of the army, as are many others. So are the Taliban, Afghan and Pakistani, as too numerous other terrorist groups. So too the vice-like economic and political embrace of America that has put us into neo-colonialism. Now, fittingly, the army is left to clean up its own mess, to put it politely. Yes, he who makes a mess should clean it too.
What compounds our problems is that many if not most of these terrorist groups have been taken over by our neighbours to the left of us and to the right of us. To the front of us across the seven seas is our greatest ‘ally’, financier and ‘banker’ of last resort that also uses these neighbours against us.
Even worse, they also run many of our politicians in power and outside, media, academia and what have you. All this destabilizes Pakistan further. Worser still, the place is crawling with Indian, Afghan and American spies, many of whom are Pakistanis to boot. Many of our terrorists are foreigners too.
Whose fault is it? Squarely our governments and only our governments for not recognizing right from wrong, for not knowing what is good for us and what is not. It also lies on us the people for getting inveigled into repeatedly ‘electing’ and tolerating such misleading ‘leaders’ and accepting this alien political system that works not for them but for their oppressors. That’s called ‘democracy’ Pakistani style, a ‘democracy’ that only creates civilian dictatorships worse than military dictatorships.
So who can change the system? As world history shows, it has to be “we the people”, if necessary at the point of a sword.
To top it all, there is the Panama scandal that has embroiled Nawaz Sharif and family in plunder and corruption untold. It has been so embarrassing for us that our prime minister, his wife and children, defended by their courtiers and courtesans like well-trained hounds, that one feels loathe talking about it to foreigners. But talk we must, if nothing else because that’s all we seem to be good at.
Thus a desperate people are coming up with all sorts of bizarre but diverting theories. The best is: will Nawaz Sharif lose or will the Supreme Court? If it is the latter then Pakistan loses and we will be left with no civilian institution at all, only the army but for how long without a strong civilian government to back it?
Meantime, Pakistan’s economy is in a steep nosedive from which pulling up is becoming very difficult if not already impossible. But remember that ashes are a necessary precondition for a phoenix to rise.
In all this multifaceted mess Pakistan has reached inflection point, to put it mildly. No wonder that the military has finally been forced to do what the ‘elected’ governments despised doing: go after terrorists of all ilk countrywide. Thus the military has launched an operation to root out this menace through the length and breadth of Pakistan.
They call it, confusingly, ‘Raad ul Fasaad’ which is better spelt ‘Rudd ul Fasad’. ‘Raad’ (or ‘Rudd’) means ‘rejection’ and the Quranic word ‘Fasad’ means discord and disharmony. So it means, literally, ‘Rejection of Discord and Disharmony’.
But it’s not so simple. You cannot get rid of Fasad without getting rid of ‘Fitna’ that causes Fasad. ‘Fitna’ literally mean mischief-maker or mischief-makers. That means getting rid of economic terrorism, people or groups or countries that enable, finance, help, and give refuge etc. to terrorists in their personal and official capacities. That includes Pakistanis and foreigners, individuals, organisations and governments local and foreign.
In Pakistan our Fitna are our governments and politicians, many of our seminaries and sermon-spewing mullahs in mosques, some journalists in print and television, academia, the bureaucracy and yes, many people in the military, though it seems the last are declining. And many others.
When they launched anti-terrorist operations in the mountains and countryside, apart from Karachi, they would have known that many terrorists would melt away into the cities, as too India and Afghanistan. But fighting guerilla wars in cities is another kettle of fish. It could cause great destruction and loss of innocent civilian lives. Just look at Aleppo and Mosul: all rubble.
Some wiseacres say that the launching of the countrywide military operation is a hidden coup — a coup behind a veil. Good, because the usual upfront coup will come a cropper as usual, not because the army as a whole lacks patriotism but because of lack of understanding of how to run a complicated and diverse country like Pakistan. They’re not trained for it.
A useful coincidence is that the army will also be conducting the much-delayed countrywide census beginning next month from March. Perfect time for it not only to count all citizens but also to check all abodes for hidden weapons and terrorists.
I’ll not even try to address the mindless question whether the “army and the civilian government are on the same page”. Patently they are not; else either the prime minister or at least his interior minister would have announced the operation. The prime minister is wasting time gallivanting in Turkey; the interior minister is nowhere to be seen. The prime minister was obviously not even asked; he was just informed and there was precious little he could do about it. That is the fruit of dereliction of duty.
To underline how wonky our priorities have become, most people are taken up with the irrelevant question of holding the final of the cricket Pakistan Super League in Lahore. What will that prove? It will require the waste of time of many law enforcement personnel apart from a colossal waste of money that could be better used in improving the human condition. They think that it will prove that Pakistan is not a terrorism prone country. Tell that to the sailors. Yes, it will further bloat a lot of already bloated egos and prolong many a job of the unfit, that’s all.
To be sure what’s happening in Pakistan is not in a vacuum. It is part of the great global change that is taking place, the shift of the political, military and economic centre of gravity from east to west. Which side the camel sits on and what colour the new skin the Leviathan takes remains to be seen, but at the risk of sounding racist, it could be yellow and the world could be eating with chopsticks in the not too distant future. I love China and the Chinese.