Note: I completed this article on December 9, 2014, and wrote: “(Government) ought not to be afraid of martial law the prospects of which are zero presently, rather minus.” Now merely 9 months later the prospects of martial law have grown formidably positive; so what’s the game, politically speaking, let’s try to see:
What’s the game, politically speaking?
In democracy, only a majority party is allowed to rule, and it may turn out to be a tyranny; no smaller party alone can lay a claim to that privilege. That’s the advantage of democracy one can cite while arguing with its enemies. Pakistan and other countries like it are an exception. In such countries, parties of every size can unleash a rule of tyranny under the banner of populism. Thus all the gatherings and processions of every size which such parties hold are quoted as a referendum against the government. Both Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) have been quite vocal in delegitimizing the government after each Jalsaa of theirs; thus PTI’s Faisalabad “lockdown” of December 8 in their wisdom has already unseated the government.
That’s because in countries like Pakistan the states have transformed themselves into Jelly States. Years back, a Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal (1898-1987) denoted them as Soft States; he meant to say: They have rules and laws and various agencies to implement them but they do not do so, and that makes them Soft. He termed them as ridden ‘by deficiencies in legislation and, in particular, law observance and enforcement, a widespread disobedience by public officials and, often, their collusion with powerful persons and groups … whose conduct they should regulate.’ Since then that quality of Softness of states has further deteriorated; it appears that quality has now acquired the characteristics of Jelly, a shapeless thing which fits in with any shape under any type of pressure. That’s how Pakistani state looks like now!
On the one hand a group of just a few hundred or thousand men armed with sticks can paralyze the Pakistani state; that has already happened this August in Islamabad; that happened in Faisalabad too, and is destined to happen in other cities; and on the other hand, though the present government is all determined to try a military general for allegedly committing High Treason but is facing formidable hurdles at every step; all that testifies that the Pakistani state is but helpless in establishing its writ in every domain. Here it doesn’t matter whether it has got the will to establish its writ or not, because there is no way to know but through its own efforts which it may put in establishing its writ and with the help of which it may be ascertained that it is intent upon establishing its writ.
Let’s pick out three areas to see are there any efforts being made on the part of the state to establish its writ. First is Taliban, who openly challenge the state and want to capture it through an armed struggle. The state completely failed on this count; for many years it let thousands of innocent citizens to be killed by these fanatic warriors and remained mired in its own policy of appeasing them and their supporter groups and parties. Now there is an operation going on, whose range and scope is still not clear. The second area relates to politics. A number of religious and political groups and parties openly challenge the state just like Taliban; they rather blatantly indulge in unlawful rhetoric and behavior so often that makes one wonders are they above the law of the land. Not only are parties like PAT and PTI part of this club of privileged politicians, there are a number of groups and parties which use religion to further their political aims and objectives and though their social base may not be more than a few thousand supporters but they and their leaders work like mafias using arms and fascistic ploys and whenever they want they paralyze the whole cities, and the state seems totally helpless!
As has already been mentioned the third area is where the present government, which is at the moment in command of the state of Pakistan, is trying its hardest to bring a usurper general to book; that the Pakistan Muslim League (N)’s government is doing that in the face of fatal odds is no secret now. And the do-and-die and destabilizing politics of PTI needs to be explained in that context also.
In view of the above, one lesson, which every political analyst and politician be he in the government or outside of it needs to learn, is that political actions are not judged by the intentions of their actors, i.e. political parties and leaders, but by their impact and consequences. That’s the first and in a sense last tool of any political analysis; because in its absence no political action may be understood in terms of its impact. As for the intentions of anybody, one can never be sure of; and of course, when a murder occurs, it’s a murder only, though the circumstances are taken into account which prompted that murder; however, the fact of that murder is never disputed, which is a consequence of the circumstances. For instance there may develop a consensus what impact the PAT and PTI politics during this August-October and PTI’s present politics is having on various things including the state and its writ, but never on their intentions.
Unfortunately, from those who are at the helm of affairs of the state and the politicians to those who form the circles of opinion and political following no one is serious in taking into consideration how the present politics of PTI is weakening not only the writ of the state but state itself. Hence, it is this third area of politics where the present government which manifests the state of Pakistan at the moment must establish its writ. It ought not to be afraid of martial law the prospects of which are zero presently, rather minus. It ought to bring the state of Pakistan into the shape which the provisions of its constitution endow it with. It ought not to allow the society of Pakistan slide into a chaos which may result in a civil war. It’s time the state of Pakistan must act to establish its writ in the political domain where it is required to be established first!