Pakistan’s Summer of Hell!

By Dr. Haider Mehdi

“ ‘What’s happening to this country. I thought I knew the place, but I no longer do. We had the bad days…Then they tole us it was now a free country. (Democracy) will bring us peace…Is this what a free country looks like? (Those) poor (people) killed here in our (streets)…What about the thousands and thousands of other things that happens? Every day of our lives. En up there in parliament they get richer…No one even hear us when we cry…Is this now the freedom they brag about so much?’”

“ ‘How long they expect us to wait?’ she asked.  ‘Have they not milked us dry enough yet? Have they not killed enough of us?’”

“ ‘Kafka wrote somewhere,’ I said. ‘There is hope. But not for us.’”

                                                                        from Andre Brink’s novel The Rights of Desire

You cannot treat cancer with Disprin, says Imran Khan. Is Imran Khan wrong? Is he politically incorrect? Is his metaphor irrelevant to the ailing conditions of this country? Has this democracy delivered what it was supposed to deliver – a welfare state? Has the incumbent PPP so-called democratic dispensation done what it was supposed to do – bring peace, prosperity, stability and dignity to this country’s people? 

Blood flows helplessly, like monsoon rainwater on the streets of Pakistan, from Karachi to the tip of its territorial boundaries in the north, and in between everywhere, courtesy of a foreign-supported, patronized and NRO-imposed political leadership. No wonder then, today’s Pakistan is going through its most grotesque and scandalous era of its political existence.   

Irrespective of the history lessons being delivered by the despicable PPP apologists on the ongoing Karachi violence, it is common knowledge that Zardari-Gilani regime, at its very inception, issued thousands of licenses to legally carry arms, by some estimates as many as 150,000 such licenses were personally sanctioned by the Prime Minister himself.  Reliable sources have produced documentary proof that some of these licenses were used to arm PPP militias while a selective group of ruling party stalwarts made tons of money by selling these gun licenses in the open market to militias of other parties.  Consequently, a distinct, widely-expanded and legally sanctioned culture of armed wings of several parties was officially initiated and deliberately promoted by the ruling regime. 

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Not that many selective workers and members of several political parties did not carry arms in the past.  Indeed, they were chosen specifically for special and precise tasks of political objectives through violence and coercion. The difference now is that the new so-called democratic dispensation of Pakistan has provided legitimate cover for the armed militias of its own party as well as let the other parties do the same by implication.  The ironic and bizarre element of this political development was that the major opposition parties did not oppose the spread of legally protected armed gangs now at the disposal of several political leaderships.  Instead of the de-weaponization of armed groups throughout the country, the PPP accelerated the weaponization of political elements already alarmingly active and a threat to the stability and safety of Pakistani citizens.  No wonder, crime, armed robberies, and murder have increased and the law and order situation in the country has dramatically deteriorated in the last 3 years. 

The point being focused and deliberated here is this: In terms of political conceptualization and in the context of public affairs management, the PPP regime, by officially sanctioning armed militias, espoused violence explicitly as a political management doctrine in governance.  Is there any other rational explanation? How else could issuing over 150,000 gun licenses be justified or rationalized? Did the Prime Minister not understand what he was doing? What it means in real practical terms is that the incumbent PPP administration decided at the very onset of taking over the political control of the country that fear, the atmosphere of fear, the threat of violence, actual or perceived, would be used as a tool of political management and political expediency in the governance of the country.  And the functional application of this doctrine of violence has been aptly demonstrated in the Karachi bloodbath recently as well as all over the country.

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What has happened in Karachi in the last 3 months, the brutality of it, the inhumanity of it, the political objectives of it, the turf war of it, and the emerging consequences of it had to simply happen.  This was not a sudden eruption; it has been the implicit narrative of a political script authored in the power corridors of Islamabad by an incumbent regime whose political vision and imagery is wholly and completely restricted by its own virulent perception of what politics is – the desire for unconstrained permanent and manipulated power for selfish personal interests. 

One might ask a most pertinent question in the aftermath of the Karachi massacres.  What moral, ethical or legitimate democratic right does the Zardari-Gilani regime have now to stay at the helm of national affairs? In power? In government? In the exercise of the democratic mandate that was accorded to it? Has not the democratic mandate already been trampled, violated and re-violated? Vandalized? Breached? Infringed? Raped and desecrated? 18 Supreme Court judgments have not been carried out. Human blood flows on the street of Karachi, Nowshera, Peshawar and all over the country. Illegal, immoral drone attacks maim and scatter human limbs, families and their dwellings destroyed, children orphaned, old and young made homeless, wives widowed. A sense of doomsday prevails all over the nation. Everywhere you go, poverty and helplessness stare you in the face, with everyone you encounter, in every household, in every street, in every town, in every village, in every heart and mind, old and young, men and women!

Let us be candid and blunt: Where are the opposition forces in our parliamentary form of a democratic system? Is it the insanity of opposition leadership, their betrayal of democratic norms, their unprincipled politics, their unethical approach to political management and democratic conventions that has brought the Pakistani nation to the brink of ultimate disaster? What are the opposition parties waiting for?  What celestial miracles are they hoping for? What personal self-interests are they protecting? What is their game plan? What kind of democratic system are they protecting from collapse? Why don’t they play the legitimate democratic role of an opposition which the nation accorded to them in its political mandate?

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“Anybody can comment on events. But analyzing and drawing conclusions require a level of expertise and, above all, caution, especially when it comes to ongoing events,” opined columnist Luc Debieuvre recently.  Indeed, I wish to explain that the greatest national calamity throughout Pakistan’s political existence has been the absence of genuine leadership that shared dreams, plans, visions, and practical management-public affairs skills to put this country to a political discourse destined to national greatness, political stability, and economic prosperity for all:  a cultural-social renaissance of a Muslim welfare state. Our immense emptiness of purpose and socio-political-moral deficiency was not accidental, but as the result of a deeply flawed leadership – and today’s Pakistan still suffers from this cancerous ailment teetering at the verge of a virtual political collapse.  This entire leadership has to go now – this cancer cannot be treated with small measure – a Disprin cannot cure it.

Remember, remember, remember: This nation still belongs to saints, Sufis, derwishes, qalandars, songs, poets – to Iqbal, Bullah Shah, Faiz, and Feraz.  It cannot be put to death so suddenly! It will endure, it will rise, it will survive, it will…it will!

“ ‘Kafka wrote somewhere,’ I said. ‘There is hope. But not for us,’”  …unless we rise in unison and sweep all of them, the undesirables, from the entire political landscape of this country!!

After this Summer of Hell, we now need a People’s Revolution!!

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