Elephants’ Fight

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Dr Marium Kamal

When the elephants fight, the grass gets trampled. Similarly, our public has been flattened between the decisions and clash of interests of our political elites and power centres. Ignoring the fact that ultimately, it’s the people who are on the front line, who will suffer. Those who have never asked for the conflict in the first place, neither hold any stake in the continuing conflict. Unfortunately, during the recent standoff, most of the protesters were young seeking solutions for their unending problems, economic insecurities, unemployment and lack of potential opportunities and increased security and terrorism concerns. Our political system has failed in delivering.
The gravity of the matter further exacerbates when these political elites desire partisan meritocracy, and efforts to control all the institutes by appointing their obliged and privileged persons. Their hunger to sustain is undemocratic system paves the way for their illegitimate and desirable decisions, unjustifiable wealth and power accumulation and continuity of regime.
The political crises in Pakistan are nothing more than a power struggle between the political elites and other power centres, ignoring all the ground realities. The state of Pakistan is, unfortunately, passing through a very sensitive phase since its foundation. Though political instability is not new for the system, Pakistan is facing multiple severe crises, which may lead to irreversible damage. Severe political and economic crises, institutional clashes, constitutional defiance and rise of militancy and terrorism in the bordering areas of the state. In such a scenario, our people are vulnerable and open to extremist narratives and illegitimate opportunities. Don’t blame the youth for their involvement in the ongoing violent turmoil. It’s the state’s failure that couldn’t bring the required balance and cohesion. If the government and opposition are unable to bring minimum consensus among them, how can the public balance their affiliations?
Yet, political violence is the outcome of the prevailing anarchic environment. However, the political manoeuvring and its violent dynamics are not new to the state structure. It’s been constant in the previous regimes. Systems have been built and destroyed through violence. Though, it’s not about how one power retains its authority against the other, it’s more about the people’s future at large. The Pakistani people, who are representing the PDM government and its alliances, PTI workers, police officials and other powerful authorities, are being affected by the undue political elite choices, which are for their enrichment and survival.
My concern is not raised for any party or institute. By abstaining from biases, my concern is more about Pakistan and its people. Those who don’t follow the constitutional norms and abide by the institutional sanctity need to understand that their survival is very much linked with the state’s survival. The undue clash of interests is testing the public’s patience, who are already burdened by the unprecedented inflation and economic volatility. The people of Pakistan are extremely worried about their future endurance and survival in tough circumstances. Most of the skilled and learned youth are leaving the country as it has been claimed that “visa” is the most searched word, which has been the main cause behind the brain drain in Pakistan. Secondly, the people who don’t qualify for foreign entry or any overseas role are hardly getting paid as per their qualifications due to augmented unemployment. The prevailing political and economic uncertainty has increased the anger and fury among the masses, the traditional political structure, and alliances among the political dynasties and establishments are not acceptable to the youth anymore. The cleavages of distrust have increased with the ouster of Imran Khan in April 2022. As a consequence, the public is challenging the status quo, which needs to be clarified on every level. Moreover, the evolutionary process and technological innovations have further enhanced the capacity of cognizance and assertiveness among the masses.
The internal dynamics of Pakistan have raised many questions at the domestic and global levels. Our inabilities are already faced with multiple concerns due to the mounting economic crises and the threat of default, terrorism and resurgence of TTP and lastly, the threat of instability in a nuclear-armed state. Pakistan’s smooth sealing is a great concern for the West, as it has been claimed that Pakistan’s ‘stability remains a major interest, given the country’s possession of a nuclear weapon and US counterterrorism interests in the region – all of which depend on the military’s cohesion’.
The escalated political crisis has put these interests under stress for the West and other regional stakeholders. Moreover, it’s also been feared that the prospect of a crackdown has raised many concerns about potential unlawful measures that could undermine the rights of Pakistanis and push the country closer to direct military intervention. As a result, it’s been directed to retain the military cohesion; avoid unlawful steps, including excessive force against protesters; and not steer the country toward a direct military intervention or other emergency limits.
It’s high time for our political elites to wake up and accept the dire need for “reconciliation” under the law of “minimum consensus.” Otherwise, it may lead to abrupt and predicted changes in the political mapping of Pakistan. Secondly, the supremacy of the constitution has to be accepted and followed by all the institutions, which is mandatory for the state’s endurance. Lastly, the traditional political system is not acceptable to the people of Pakistan. Deliverance and development are what the youth are looking for, otherwise, it may further increase extremists and violent narratives among the masses. What Pakistan is facing today is nothing more than competition among powerful entities to ensure their order. Its key answer is as simple as it has been asked, “Give the people what they want.” It’s everyone’s Pakistan.