Grand national dialogue as a way forward | By Dr Muhammad Khan


Grand national dialogue as a way forward

EVER since its inception in 1947, Pakistani masses are told that ‘state is in turmoil and we are passing through a critical stage of our history’.

No one has ever told the nation that who is responsible for creating this instability and disorder and how the state and society of Pakistan will come out from this insecurity, political polarization, ethnic and sectarianprejudiceand chaos at nation level.

In the absence of consensus among the national leadership over the issues of national interests there is a rapid rise of chaos and confusion among the masses at large.

The political instability gives rise to social unrest and segmentation in the society. These factors further impact the economic health and vulnerability of the state to external hazards.

Unfortunately, despite passage of seventy-five years, Pakistan has not come out from these elements of instability and chaos at national level.

Each government face the challenge of its political survival from the day it is elected and instead of working for the national development and economic prosperity of the people, the government take all legal and illegal measures to complete its term.

This includes; political bribe, violation of merit system, undesired and harmful alliances at home and abroad and above all ignoring the implementation of national interest and wellbeing of the people.

This all is happening in Pakistan besides so many other ills and evils for decades now. The unfortunate aspect of this all is that, there is no realization among those who cause these problems and play with the future of Pakistan and Pakistanis and yet remains at the helm of affairs.

The on-going struggle of powers among the political parties of Pakistan, started in February 2022 is badly damaging the national image and process of democratization as insinuated in the constitution of Pakistan.

The unfortunate political polarization in Pakistan is impacting the country on two significant aspects; creating a chaos at domestic level and augmenting state’s vulnerability for external forces and terrorism.

Internally, the people of Pakistan are confused about the future of state, thus there is a state of chaos.

Economy of the state is in a very bad shape with respect to economic and social survivability of the state and for the sustenance of trade commerce.

Externally, the foes of Pakistan are finding this as an appropriate time to further the domestic fault lines of Pakistan by promoting and supporting militancy and terrorism through existing terrorist organizations.

There is a rapid rise of terrorism in Pakistan since last few months. The aggression of Afghan Taliban Government at Chaman, attack at Bannu, suicide attack in Islamabad on December 23, 2022 and repeated act of cross firing all along western borders are some the recent acts of terrorism.

History proves that, states with strong domestic order, social cohesion, political stability, national harmony and a visionary leadership are less susceptible for foreign invasions and aggressive acts of external forces.

On the other hand, countries with domestic chaos and political disorder easily became prey to external aggression.

Some of the recent examples are; Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. These states once had admirable living standards and harmonized domestic order, giving job opportunities for rest of world.

The domestic unrest, political rivalries, bad governance and lack of statesmanship among the top national leadership exposed them for external exploitation and current level of breakdown.

Such a happening can take place anywhere with any country, since international system is based on power politics where states tend to weaken the rival states for the expansion of their power.

The state of Pakistan itself became a victim of external aggression in 1971, mainly because of political polarization, self-seeking political leadership, bad governance, festering social cohesion and self-centred leadership at the help of affairs.

Today, once again the foes of Pakistan are all out to create domestic chaos and political unrest in Pakistan.

This is a dangerous situation, facing Pakistan.At this critical juncture of its history, Pakistan cannot afford a political volatility, domestic unrest and fragmented national image.

Unfortunately, this all is happening after this resilient nation successfully defeated the globally imposed terrorism against the state and society of Pakistan.

This externally imposed terrorism was defeated through valiant act of heroism, undertaken by Pakistani Military where nation stood behind them wholeheartedly.

The evolving political instability, social unrest, economic melt-down and resurgence of terrorist attacks as mentioned above would provide the rival forces an opportunity to fuel the situation to the disadvantage of Pakistani state society and for their own advantage in subsequent phase.

Therefore, in order to find a way out from all these domestic and external challenges there is a dire need for the initiation of Grand National Dialogue.

The proposed Grand National Dialogue should focus on; political stability at national level, indigenous based economic revival of Pakistan, creating a sense of social tolerance among masses by rejecting militancy and terrorism, measure for the well beings of the people, provision of timely justice, addressing the socio-economic vulnerabilities and above all the challenges to the national security of Pakistan.

An agreeable outcome of these dialogues will bring five tangible national objectives: an all-inclusive national security, ending the egocentric political polarization, defying the external agendas, bridging the existing fault lines and revival of national economy.

Attainment of these broad objectives as a result of Grand National Dialogue will lead the nation to national consensus.

The national consensus will be the starting point for bringing reforms in all those areas which somehow triggered crevice in the political and governance system of the state.

The Grand National Dialogue has to be institutionalized for free-debating and bringing consensus settlement of all national and provincial issues before their ratification by the Parliament of Pakistan.

The agreed outcome of the Grand National Dialogue should be given constitutional coverage and establishment of a national think-tank to assist Parliament in its functioning.

There should be representation of all stakeholders in the Grand National Dialogues.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.