PRIOR to government of Imran Khan in, it was
quite known that country was in dire straits.
Its revival was a gruelling task however, as time passed, it was revealed that mess is far greater than imagined. The country has become bereft of basic ingredients to resurrect it. Equally hands of people who caused demolition, have also become long and deep inside state organs. A few important institutions, virtually have become their veritable arms. The havoc wrecked is all encompassing and forbidding. No realm of national life could escape the scourge. Be it constitutionally, intellectually, politically, economically, administratively, morally and socially. This sets a stiff match between despair and rekindled hope by Imran Khan which at times seems in danger of being swept away by opposite tides.
Mainly transition to unusual worst occurred twice. Both times, ruling elite was at helm. First time, it was between 1988 and 1999. Second time, it was between 2008 and 2018 however, this spell was more devastating and left country reeling under huge debris of numerous kinds. They did not only misrule/plunder the country but also constructed a constitutional hedge mutually to insulate themselves against accountability and install mechanisms to prolong their stay in power. 18th Amendment was constitutional instrument which enabled them to wield power/influence in state organs/apparatus even if they are not in power ie caretaker governments, ECP, NAB and superior Judiciary. Besides, they also applied other tricks to gain ingress in state machinery. A large number of recent occurrences testified this fact. Intellectuals are soul of a society. Truth is their special burden. Here, an overwhelming majority of theirs is a saleable commodity. In a modern polity, media ought to be watchman of its night and troubled day. Here again, its vast majority is hand in gloves with corrupt ruling elite. On every evening, media screens are buzz with loaded talk shows to hoodwink public opinion. As a whole, our people lack real awareness and understanding. They could easily be duped by craft and guile. On top of this, they have short memory and impatient psyche which make them more prone to media/clever talk.
In real sense, politics is a sacred undertaking. In Pakistan, it has become a profession devoid of principles/rules. It is a game of lies, fraud and deceit. Eventually, it blurs ability of people to discriminate between right and wrong. Polarization supersedes national cohesiveness. Even on peripheral issues, linguistic/regional cards are instantly out. Again it clouds people’s judgment. In 2018, Pakistan was an economically broken country. Burdened with insurmountable debt, insolvency was imminent if stringent conditions of IMF were not met for new loans. For countries like us, purposely, conditions are kept anti-people. IMF cuff hands governments not to provide relief to people on name of economic recovery/stabilization. In absence of relief, people tend to fall prey to despair and despondency while largely blaming government. Now it is Coronavirus pandemic which has shattered even giant economies of affluent nations. In face of it, of Pakistan is an infant economy. It would certainly add to our economic woes. Our state apparatus is not only politicized but also mired with problems of stagnation and sloth.
These have decayed it greatly. It is unable to perform any challenging task even if it intends to. A mere glance would expose degree of effectiveness they possess. Apt examples are NAB, price control committees and food security department against hoarding/locust. Largely our people owe moral and social values in theory only and disown in practice. As a whole we do not feel any scruple in hoarding/black marketing to fleece people at time of their dire necessity. In Corona crisis, beast inside is even more out. Prices of Corona-related items continue to soar sky high which is sad commentary on our morals/ethics that we even do not spare national emergencies. Taking advantage of all above, mafias of all sorts have dug in firmly while in league with ruling elite. On seeing government taking action to break their nexus, they join hands to bleed the country economically. They have successfully created an impression that economy and accountability could not coexist. These are the circumstances through which government of Imran Khan has to operate to change the country. Undoubtedly, it is walking on tight rope.
It is true that Imran Khan made a promise for change and came ill prepared. He lacks in acumen/intellectual capacity to run a country like Pakistan beset with formidable odds. He could not weld together a competent team. He also missed opportunities however, he remains resolute and ruling elite is invariably on run. This holds ray of hope. Conversely, sense of frustration, despair and poignancy among masses could revive chances of ruling elite to make a comeback and pillage the country once more. Mere thought of it is chilling because we are left with no more than a skeleton. It would be a final nail on the coffin. Nothing better could be expected from them because chemically they are greedy and grasping. Imran Khan would lose nothing if he fails but we would. For own sake, his hands needs to be strengthened. Besides, Pakistan is not estate of ruling elite. It is property of people. Their responsibility did not end with casting vote to Imran Khan. They need to show preservence, steadfastness and endurance and not to fall prey to impatience and propaganda gimmicks of vested interests. They would ultimately triumph because falsehood is inherently weaker and rightness is a stronger cause.
— The writer, a retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.