From crisis to crisis
AS the nation prepares to celebrate the 75th anniversary of independence to-morrow (14 August) we are witness to the horrible scenario that the country is engulfed in a spate of crises and we seem to stumble from one crisis to another.
The most frightening crisis is the deadly economic crisis that is gnawing at the very foundations of the country along with the lethal political polarisation never seen before at such an alarming level.
There appears to be a severe shortage of crisis management skills along with a non-serious attitude towards national problems and these factors are aggravating the already deepening political crisis.
Let us not forget the greatest disaster in our history when the poor management skills and non serious attitude led to the disintegration of the country and the birth of Bangladesh.
The verdict of the Election Commission of Pakistan on the case of prohibited (foreign) funding of the PTI has added fuel to the raging fires of political instability.
The recent torrential monsoon rains and the resultant rural and urban flooding have added to the woes of economic problems with severely damaged infrastructure and displaced people due to flooding.
Preventive measures were not taken even after the warnings issued by the Meteorological Department about the likelihood of severe climate-related events.
There appears to be no response to early warnings and this exposes the mismanagement and incompetence of different institutions responsible for crisis management in the country.
Pakistan today has the distinction of being the only nuclear power Muslim country in the world and at the same time the state with a dangerously ugly economic scenario.
The trade gap is widening, foreign exchange reserves are depleting rapidly and inflation has reached a critically dangerous level.
The political situation is really ugly and there appears to be an absence of good governance and the rule of law.
A tottering educational system, ethnic and sectarian schisms and religious extremism have brought the country to the abyss of total failure.
The economic and political crisis is increasing the anger and frustration of the people and resulting in violence and intolerance in society.
There appears to be a great need to take immediate measures on a war footing to deal with the mushrooming crises in different areas.
Our institutions must be staffed by competent professionals who can deal with the grave economic, political and environmental problems.
The new coalition government of Shahbaz Sharif appears to be a state of decision paralysis and is still struggling to find its footings and exhibit some sense of good governance while the former Prime minister is on the war-path attacking the legal status of the government increasing the polarization in society and calling for immediate elections.
Imran Khan played to the galleries and was very successful in concocting a conspiracy theory which was swallowed hook, line and sinker by his followers and some media houses.
The conspiracy theory about regime change without any proof or evidence was rebuffed by the national intelligence committee and the spokesperson of the defence forces and now the PTI supporters allude to the military for being responsible for his ouster from power and this has resulted in heated political confrontation between the army and the PTI followers.
Imran Khan has very adroitly used his constitutional and legal ouster to garner support and to galvanise his followers.
He believes the new government is an “imported government” and the Prime Minister is “Crime Minister” in his media interviews, he insists that his ouster has resulted in bringing into power corrupt politicians who are responsible for all our problems and troubles.
The followers of Imran Khan believe every word he says without looking at the facts and repeat his narrative extensively on the social media.
The PTI resigned from Parliament and called for fresh elections that the new govt. appears to ignore thus increasing the political confrontation.
Imran Khan is now planning to lead a Freedom March to pressurise the government into going for new elections.
The new coalition Govt. believes that the fall from power of Imran Khan as a process completed in a legal constitutional and democratic way and see Imran Khan’s polices as extremely dangerous for the state.
The ardent supporters of Imran Khan have a deep mistrust in everything said by the government and even the military establishment is on the receiving end of blame and abuse by the Imran Khan fans.
The very recent trend witnessed is that politicians on both sides have started the use of religion to criticise and blame each other without realising the danger this could mean because the use of religion can mean the death sentence.
The one major question resulting in the political crisis is the timing of the next general election to be held in mid 2023.
Imran Khan wants to capitalise on his current popularity and go for immediate elections. Before his ouster he did try to dissolve Parliament by extra-constitutional methods but this attempt was thwarted by the Supreme Court.
The bottom line is that the present dangerously high political tension is nothing but a blatant attempt to gain political power.
—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.