The Light Is On but Nobody’s Home

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     by Rana Ejaz

    The omnipotent is responsible for creating everything in the universe, including each individual on Earth and all religions. Individuals in Israel and India are also created by Allah as in Palestine and Pakistan. All human beings have relations and are emotionally charged. Military institutions indoctrinate soldiers with the belief that their lineage is superior and they are meant to rule the world, a notion successfully instilled by military oligarchs in young recruits. Those above the rank of colonel are typically spared from dying in combat, while brigadier generals and higher-ups benefit from this nationalist sentiment.

    This sentiment requires support from other institutions to sustain the military’s de facto rule in the country under the guise of democracy. Across the world, military interventions can take on four major forms: influence, blackmail, displace, and supplant, which other countries may observe or exploit to varying degrees. However, Pakistan stands alone in that it exploits all four forms of military intervention simultaneously.

    The third world’s armed forces can operate more efficiently compared to civil governments due to their organization, discipline, centralization, hierarchy, intercommunication, and esprit de corps. Throughout history, it has been observed that four prevalent factors drive military intervention. The first factor is the sense of professionalism that motivates the armed forces to interfere in political matters when civilian authorities are unable to control state affairs. Secondly, military intervention becomes necessary when the civilian leadership loses its legitimacy. Thirdly, the military may intervene to address subcultural conflicts resulting from horizontal and vertical divisions. Finally, the army may interfere in politics to advance its interests as a potent pressure group and organized institution.

    According to Pakistani journalist Shahid Metla’s claim, retired General Qamar Javed Bajwa was interviewed and revealed the nature of military discipline in the armed forces, which involves manipulating political conspiracies for the benefit of the army chief’s interests. Although the director general of inter-services public relations and the director general of inter-services intelligence have denied any political interference by the armed forces, General Bajwa admitted in his farewell speech that there had been such interference in the past and promised that the military would become apolitical in the future. It is important to note that this promise was made by the outgoing General Bajwa, not the current chief of army staff.

    In present-day Pakistan, there is a struggle underway against the oligarchs who have long held power over the country through the judiciary, legislature, and executive branches of the government. These branches have historically manipulated the Pakistani people by appealing to their sense of nationalism, democracy, and religion. While nationalism is a sentiment that varies in intensity among individuals and is tied to one’s love of their homeland, it has been gradually instilled in the people of Pakistan over time.

    Currently, the people of Pakistan are segmented along various lines such as ethnicity, ideology, sectarianism, language, and economic status. The population can be classified into three categories: Subjects (passive observers), parochial (narrow-minded individuals), and participants (active contributors). While the ratio of passive observers and narrow-minded individuals may differ between provinces and districts, the number of active contributors is relatively small throughout Pakistan. This factor often serves as a catalyst for the intervention of the armed forces.

    The military in Pakistan has repeatedly intervened using various tactics such as influence, blackmail, displace, and supplant, due to the people’s submissive mindset. This can be traced back to the country’s colonial history, where the military adopted the master-slave relationship and maintained control over the population by following the British divide-and-rule strategy. The bureaucracy, judiciary, and legislature were structured in an imperial style and used to enforce laws and punishments for the subcontinent’s slaves. Those who served the British rulers were rewarded with benefits. Unfortunately, these legacies continue to shape Pakistan’s governance today, as there is a lack of leadership to change the parochial mindset of individuals and make them active participants in the country’s development. As a result, Pakistan is currently without direction and leadership.

    In developing countries, the absence of structured political parties poses a significant challenge as it creates a gap that authoritarian leaders often fill, resulting in the emergence of personality cults. This phenomenon is observed in the cases of Jinnah in Pakistan, Gandhi and Nehru in India, Sukarno in Indonesia, and Nkrumah in Ghana. Dankwart A. Rustow highlights that this situation creates several problems, including disagreements over constitutional procedures, inexperience in government deliberations, a fragile national identity, a shortage of qualified civil servants and educated individuals, a decline in political parties, and a lack of cohesive economic interest groups. Ultimately, these issues undermine the government’s capacity to function effectively.

    In the contemporary Pakistan, political parties operate as interest groups and are largely dominated by a cult of personality. In the 1970s, Bhutto held sway over West Pakistan, and today, Imran Khan similarly exerts a strong influence over the populace. The prevalence of dynastic politics in Pakistan has further hindered its leadership, with the Bhutto and Sharief families holding power for over 35 years and propping up military and judicial oligarchies. This has taken a toll on the social fabric of Pakistan, where many young people aspire to join civil services for the privileges and power it offers, rather than to serve the nation. Unfortunately, individuals with nuisance values are often accorded more respect than those who espouse moral values. This has led to a state of directionlessness and purposelessness in Pakistan, with no clear path forward.

    The Way Forward

    We are a nuclear power, void of resources but greedy for protocols at the expense of public purse. The potential for change lies within the people of Pakistan. With the advent of social media, the younger generation has access to more information than ever before. This power can be harnessed positively, and we need to be responsible citizens and show the forces that no more bloody civilians should no longer be subjected to violence. By increasing the number of participants, individuals in Pakistan can gain more value, as opposed to institutions that are typically revered over people. Institutions should perform their duties and earn respect, with the military, judiciary, and executive all operating within their designated spheres according to the constitution. However, the overlapping of institutions has led to constitutional crises in Pakistan. Therefore, the people must intervene peacefully to keep the institutions in check, general elections is the only panacea of all ills in Pakistan, as it’s ultimately the people who fight wars, not the armies.

     

     

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