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Pity Our Beloved but Fractured State, Pakistan

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The structural integrity of a State is based on four pillars, which, in the modern world, can include its government, economy, judicial system, and communications media. If a State is ranked 13th in a list of failed states, that is a reflection of a progressive structural failure. Fissures in the pillars reduce their load-carrying capacity, stressing them to their limits and eventually causing a breakdown that deforms the entire structure. If, on the other hand, the pillars holding up a state remain intact, that has an immense positive impact on the political, economic and social standing of the country in the international community.

As with an architectural structure, so a localized failure in a well-designed social structure need not be the cause of an immediate, or even progressive, collapse of the entire system. One simply needs to look at the size and shape of the pillars. Only if they are not designed to support one another can they all suffer decay and eventually bring the whole structure down.

That eventuality, however, now threatens to become the fate of our beloved Pakistan. It is the product of a narcissistic morphology and a megalomaniacal approach by our institutions that has incited an abhorrent deficit in trust and resulted ultimately in schism and chaos. The bigoted power structure we now have has removed "THE NATIONAL INTEREST" from its priority list. 

Pakistan has in fact had a turbulent history since its beginning. We were impatient with our toddler administration, hoping to spur it to a faster maturation so that we could achieve our objectives earlier. Instead, we reduced government policies to a shambles. 

Unfortunately, the administration's lack of steady progress turned out to be disastrous, because its efforts were meddled with by forces that believed they needed to save it from utter annihilation. Perhaps, if we had first imparted to it the fundamentals of toilet training, it would have soon become independent and confident enough to tackle problems on its own. Instead, we nipped its entire agenda in the bud! 

According to A .V. Dicey, "There can be no martial law in peacetime." Unfortunately, Pakistan was not the outcome of any major contest between haves and have-nots, since that would have produced a mature political culture and brought democratic norms to the nation.

Regrettably, since the country's inception, elitism has eclipsed pluralism and left no room for political socialization. To cite Ehsan Mehmood Khan: "Pakistan has its own politico-economic and psycho-social environment, peculiar to Pakistan alone. For instance, no country in the world has as much territory with special status as has Pakistan. [There are] Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K), and B Areas of Balochistan have a status different from the remaining bulk of the country. Moreover, all these [sections]have a different status from the others." [Reference: Ehsan Mehmood Khan, "Human Security in Pakistan" (Islamabad: Narratives, 2013, p. 57).] 

The irony of history in Pakistan is that the honeymoon of each new administration has always ended in its own renouncing of the same fractured society. Again and again, the root cause is the trust deficit, which has made our people impatient, intolerant and always ready to vehemently criticize their government.

Yet, how can there be trust, when our government is always run by corrupt plutocrats who are the custodians of Machiavellian politics? You keep paying taxes like a good little minion, but they continue to devour them like a beast. Moreover, our politicians will remain unscrupulous, because they are elected by dubious means.

Are we satisfied with how elections are held? Of course not! How can inexperienced, unqualified, insecure and endangered officials hold the general election in the wilderness, where even wolves don't want to wander? Results are manipulated, ballot papers are faked, ballot boxes are tampered with, votes cast in favor of the opponent are destroyed, and many other illegal, unethical and immoral actions are taken during elections.

Are you satisfied with the results of the voting by all these constituencies, when common people consider elections an opportunity to feel proud and place a sales tag on their chest? Then, too, voting in our society is based on personalities and rhetoric. Our citizens are ignorant and don't have the ability to make informed choices. Yet, the future of Pakistan is decided by these illiterates, who constitute the major portion of our population.

It is commonly recognized that the results of our elections are spurious and unreliable, and that, as a result, sensible voters, who are not playing any role in the political game of snakes and ladders, become politically apathetic. And how can you achieve meaningful change, when regional issues are broadly considered more important than the national interest?

Our political culture is predominantly parochial, rich in societal schism and hinged on local feudal urban bosses and their followers. The power worshippers in our society disregard the vices of the power holders. There are no intra-party elections and no changes in the power structure, because it remains within family circles. The power of inheritance still makes it possible for lunatics to be elevated to the imperial throne. Fidelity to the family, clan, tribe, cults, kinships, class, color and creed always outweigh loyalty to the "NATION," and people feel socially compelled to make these attachments a priority. Regional parties are always preferred over national affiliations, based on ethnic discrimination, linguistic divisions, religious fanaticism, sectarianism, tribalism, provincialism and regionalism. Reinforcing such customs, government has failed to adopt any approach to assimilate or accommodate these factions within our own territory. For that reason, it is quite easy for external patrons of these groups to exploit them as agents against Pakistanis committed to the welfare of the nation as a whole.

Politicians are like vampires. They suck blood and live forever. They are murderers, because they build their empire on the dead bodies of poor citizens. These vultures are savagely oppressive toward the poor and, in general, live a life marked by scandals and controversies. The only spotless politicians are those who don't get the chance to exploit. But, for all of them, bending the law for personal gain is considered the hallmark of success. There is no shame in harassing and suppressing members of the opposition. Like horse traders, our politicians resort to the most pernicious, immoral and unethical acts simply to gain a ministerial assignment or petty benefits like bank loans, residential or commercial plots, lucrative jobs for relatives, and the like. Foreign bank accounts are the repository of our national treasure, and our politicians don't sense an iota of shame in carrying out their personal religious activities at government expense. Even our religious politicians are hopeless, displaying a total lack of altruism and exploiting Islam for petty temporal ends. Across the board, our politicians show no vision, while marginalizing the fundamental principles of democracy.

Our Parliament is the home of fake degree holders who, in intentionally steering away from agendas advocating radical social change, are showing they don't have the will to resolve problems. For example, formation of our vital national security policy is still in abeyance.

The quality of our governance can be measured by specific actions and outcomes: furtive sharing of information, poor economic reforms, an obscure foreign policy, deteriorating health status, failure in the education sector, and a failure to devolve power. The intervention of drones in our tribal belt challenges the legitimacy of the government, undermines its credibility, and fosters anti-government sentiment.

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R R Tanoli, is a student of Political Science with extensive research in comparative and developmental politics. He has carried out study tours in Khyber Agency (FATA) and monitored Operation Rah e Nijaat as part of the media team. He is an active (more...)
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