Part 2 - After the circulation of my last ST article on the above subject, I received an email from a friend, drawing my attention to an article, ‘Well on the road to chaos’, by Ayaz Amir. (http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-251751-Well-on-the-road-to-chaos), in which Ayaz writes, ‘Does a death-wish afflict this country? At what point will the government, the army and the media cry enough is enough? Where will they halt? Or must another October come their way before some sense is instilled into their heated minds?’
Ayaz concludes: ‘We better find a solution fast or the game will be up. We have to travel no further than Egypt or Thailand to see this as a distinct possibility’.
In Egypt, after many months of chaos on the streets of Cairo and a brief romance with democracy, former army chief Sisi has won the recent Egyptian elections, consolidating the Army’s grip in the country.
Besides our journey into chaos, according to a report in the Business Recorder, dated May 26th Pakistan’s public debt will increase by Rs 5.716 trillion, equivalent to a whopping $57 billion over the next four years! (http://www.brecorder.com/money-a-banking/198/1186110/).
This is bound to have a crippling effect on the value of the rupee and triggering inflation, resulting in a massive increase in prices of everything , including essential items and will further widen the gap between the ‘haves and the have nots’, fueling crime and social disorder.
The foremost on the government’s agenda is the Law and Order situation in Karachi, the commercial back bone of the country, followed by the power crisis, which is on the rise and now, to add to its woes, we have the looming financial melt-down.
Last year, we had celebrated the country’s first democratic transition from one elected government to another with a lot of hope and optimism. But today, we are wondering whether our elected government has the capacity to deal with the crisis of State and Society that Pakistan has inherited from its very conception as a nation and face the grave challenges that threaten its very existence. The leadership seems to lack the vision, commitment and the courage needed to confront the many challenges facing the country, starting from the issue of law and order and the confused and failed ‘Operation Clean Up’ terrorism and on-off talks with the Taliban, the power crisis, the crumbling economy, the looming financial meltdown and the failure of the government to establish its writ.
Up to now, the performance of the government has been lackluster and much below the expectations of the public. As always, none of the pre-election promises have been fulfilled and unless the government gets its act together, it might be confronted with mid-term elections. So the question is, do our Finance Ministry and their stable of wizards have a magical wand or the acumen to pull out a rabbit from an empty hat? According to experts, both political and financial, the present government seems to be out of its depth and at a loss, as to how to tackle the numerous problems it is facing on so many fronts.
The government is already facing criticism, relating to the PM’s visit to India for the inauguration ceremony of the recently elected hardliner Indian PM and is being accused of being too soft with his counterpart during their one on one meeting.
The hardliners are referring to the meeting as a slap in the face, as the PM failed to protest to the onslaught by the Indian PM and also failed to raise the Kashmir issue. But then, this was not a meeting to discuss the long issues term facing both countries for the last six decades, but simply to participate in the inauguration ceremony of the Indian PM and should be taken as the first step in the right direction.
No doubt, the meeting was historical and will benefit both countries, especially Pakistan, if trade and commercial activities improve between the two countries. The question is will the hardliners on both sides allow thorny issues like Kashmir, Kargil, the Siachen dispute, etc., to be put on a backburner? Already, there have been rumblings and huffing and puffing by the dissidents, who feel that they have been betrayed by their leaders. At the same time, the government has shown its confused state of mind by the constant changes in the senior officers of the Law Enforcing Agencies and is being distracted by the tussle between the media Moguls and PEMRA and the game of Musical Chairs by PCB. Therefore, if the media, our TV channels and their anchors, violate PEMRA’s Code of Conduct and cross the ‘untouchable borders’, then the consequences could be disastrous and the much coveted ‘Freedom of the Press’ could once again be shackled.
What the country needs at this important juncture, is a display of bold and assertive leadership and a strong judiciary. Unfortunately this is not evident at the moment and neither does the past track record of NS give us any indication that he has that kind of leadership quality.
So will we be back to square one and see history repeat itself, with NS and his government being sent back to the pavilion by the Men in Khaki, in the usual ‘Best Interest of the Country’?
However, many political pundits are of the opinion, that the possibility of such a scenario at this stage is remote. They say once bitten, twice shy. In our case, it will be of being bitten four times, with the last General who came flying in, being incarcerated in his house, awaiting the Special Court’s decision about his fate, guilty or not of treason, for which the punishment is death by hanging!
So, once again, the country is at a cross-road and facing another defining moment in its checkered history. The reason for this repeated Tragedy of Errors is our failure to find an honest leader, with a vision and wisdom to unite this fragmented country, which can one day, proudly stand in the League of Nations, as a progressive and tolerant country. Musharraf had promised us such a nation, when he took over the reins of the country and now is having to pay the price for failing to do so, but sadly, so also are the 180 million Pakistanis and our future generation. Until we find such a leader, Pakistan will continue to sink deeper and stumble from one crisis to another.
The writer can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org