Let’s Stabilize Pakistan


Faisal Ahmad

Have you ever thought about identifying the most serious threat being confronted by Pakistan? From where does it originate? How deeply can it hurt the state? There are numerous opinions which place the security threats emanating from external sources at the top of the list.
This makes sense because Pakistan is surrounded by troubled neighbours Afghanistan and Iran whereas India radiates nothing but hostility. Having accepted that point of view, I always place the threat emanating from within at the top of the list. Internal instability is the biggest challenge for Pakistan with its cancerous roots spreading in economic, political, democratic and societal veins. I firmly believe that no external threat can dislodge an internally stable and unified Pakistan.
This brief rather oversimplified categorization of external and internal threats, by no means, aims to undermine the severity of security challenges emanating from foreign lands, especially the eastern neighbour. The fact of the matter is that internal instability always provides sufficient exploitable vulnerabilities to ever-vigilant rivals. A country like Pakistan having more than 240 million population cannot be beaten or overtaken by any foreign intruder. However, countries of such an enormous extent cannot afford untreated internal turmoil for longer periods. Unfortunately, consistently creeping turmoil in our societal roots has remained undetected for decades.
We suffered a lot on this account in the past as well. Ironically, our elected rulers in the recent past were found mostly off-sighted from this deadly menace. Let’s glance at the recent past five-year terms of the elected governments in the centre and provinces. No one from the outside invaded and pushed the country into the dark pits of chaos but our own chosen ones. Pre and post-2018 election rhetoric overplayed by the political parties merits some serious introspection. Unfortunately, miserable failures of elected parliaments in solving the pinching national issues could never get the central position in political discourse that it deserved.
Political leadership has been glued to this flawed approach since the 1988 general elections held after 11 years of democratic pause. Ironically, this chain of blunders is still unbroken. Major political parties entered in election arena this time again without introspecting the past in unwise ways. The outcome of the election exercise so far is no different than the past ones. Much-needed stability is still elusive after the callous and costly electoral process across Pakistan. The results of the election reflect a split mandate in the National Assembly.
Political parties complaining about rigging are dressing up the wounds of election defeat. Even if the complaints are genuine then a solution and the intended relief can only be sought through laid down legal processes. As an unfortunate precedence, political parties prefer to overplay the rhetoric and rarely adopt the right course of approaching the ECP tribunals including the courts of law.
Infamous 35 punctures rhetoric of PTI led to sit-ins and triggered an undesired wave of instability. The tour of the Chinese President linked to the CPEC inauguration was postponed due to an extra-long sit-in. In courts of law, none of the allegations could be proved and the overblown balloon of rigging busted on the face of PTI leadership. Goal posts changed among the political contestants after the 2018 elections and the opposition predominantly led by PMLN, PPP and JUI rejected the results with the usual rigging mantra.
The ruling party PTI paid no attention to fulfilling the promises made to the voters and remained restricted with the idea of ditching the opponents with corruption rhetoric mostly on social media. The successful execution of a vote of no confidence against PTI, though, paved the way for PDM to the throne but its miserable performance multiplied the sense of disappointment across Pakistan.
Economic down slide especially spiraling inflation is testing the limits of common masses. While the nation is facing the consequences of political disorder created by the PTI and PDM regimes, political parties are still busy diverting attention to usual rhetoric games. Post-vote of no confidence-rapid economic deterioration was an obvious outcome of the ill-conceived confrontational strategy of the constitutionally ousted party. Bleak default predictions flop long marches, ill-timed dissolution of provincial assemblies and victimhood rhetoric were precisely aimed at diverting the attention from significant performance failures.
PDM parties were no exception to this deceptive tendency. Their narratives also revolved around political victimization and past unceremonious ouster. No introspective discussion was ever held on major failures, inefficiencies and gaps in policy formulation processes manifested by the ruling elite. Prevailing polarization and social toxicity are outcomes of destructive politics played with fiery rhetorical narratives.
No democracy can flourish with such non-democratic conduct of top-tier leaders. Those, spreading chaos and despair in the youth, are responsible for failing their voters and supporters. The mandate entrusted through a vote in a way binds a party or leader to fulfil the promises while acting within the constitutional parameters. Escaping the parliament on the self-created plea of protest and failing to implement the promised manifesto is the biggest exploitation of democracy. There is nothing wrong with Pakistan, and there is nothing right in its politics.
No extra words are needed to spell out the gifts of natural resources, human assets especially the dominant youth, defence potential, nuclear stature, tremendous resilience, tourism potential, harmonious religious culture and enormous agrarian economy. Ironically, the deadly combination of polarization, governance disorder, corrupt practices in power corridors and political foul play have kept the country in a state of self-inflicted incapacitation.
The ruling elite especially the deceitful demagogues have continuously failed the simple-minded followers and common masses. Pakistan desperately needs a break from this vicious cycle. Denial of failures is the first hurdle before adopting the corrective measures. It is about time to unite and restore the stability in the country. Pakistan needs a charter of stability and its responsibility flatly rests on the shoulders of those players who had been entering the election arena unprepared and failing the voters with undesired performance.
A graduate of QAU, PhD scholar & freelance writer. Can be reached at fa7263125@gmail.com