Pakistan, a sovereign democratic state, fits ‘The Social Contract’ of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the famous treatise, which begins with the lines, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they are.” Pakistan was born free but down the lane of history chained itself everywhere.

Those who rule Pakistan through military dictatorships or non-performing democracies rule as masters over their subjects. But the flip side is that the road to power is tied to a manipulative system that only works to their advantage if they submit to its dictates at the cost of national interests. The nation and people take a distant back seat while opportunities are ceded willingly to the many strings that make them pliable to a bent consciousness, which suits the intruder. Once the individual interests of these rulers get intertwined with the affairs of the state, the country becomes the most obvious casualty. These outside strings include strategic interests of outside powers, personal relations of Pakistan’s rulers with outside leaders, the international economy and religion.

During this destructive assault on Pakistan’s sovereignty, the constants that have held the country together are the dexterous working classes, Pakistan’s nuclear capability and the armed forces. But this explanation is more relevant to the strong idiosyncratic oneness of people and the organisational strength of the armed forces. As military rules post 1971 indicate, they tend to fall in the same traps as political rulers. It is a case study that the seemingly non interventionist national reconciliation (NRO) guaranteed by the military in 2007-8 has become an albatross, rendering Pakistan far more vulnerable to forces of greed, plunder and dissection in the name of democracy. With obvious external linkages, this serves the foreign friends more than the people of the country.

But there is a nastier side to this conflict. The forces that make the country cohesive must not outgrow their boots and therefore be made controversial. The ultimate objective is a weak, dependent and pliant Pakistan sans a dissuasive capability. Hyenas, vultures and jackals roam the periphery both inside and outside to make merry with the spoils.

While Pakistan is busy fighting its indirect kinetic and non-kinetic war, few realise that an indirectness of conflict is consuming Pakistan from within. As written in Part 1, the biggest threat to Pakistan’s security is the fast insolvent economy followed by terrorism and non-performing democracy. In case Pakistan’s rulers do not put the house in order; or the people do not exercise the right choices, forces of disintegration shall prevail in every sinew of the nationhood. Violence will return with more fury holding Pakistan in a submissive chokehold. This handy tool is a counterweight to Pakistan’s sovereign guarantee.

To begin, terrorism in Pakistan and the region is an outcome of the Western Containment Policy. The concept of Holy Wars was given a new twist by USA once the Soviets occupied Afghanistan. The forces that were unleashed against communism in the name of democracy transformed into a global floating threat by 1990. 9/11 made them the enemy. These are the same forces that are unleashed by the same actors in the Middle East. There are powers that wish the entire Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan all burn our. These powers are wrestling for a submission hold.

After 9/11, Pakistan had the choice of containing this threat on its western borders. Post Indian mobilisation following the attack on the Indian Parliament, Pakistan rather than call the Indian bluff reacted by mobilising its own forces on the eastern front. This denuded the security perimeters on the already pervious Afghan border. Daisy cutters, bunker busters ad guided missiles at Tora Bora pushed the entire backwash into Pakistan’s tribal regions and beyond. Pakistan sunk deep in this disowned conflict against a floating threat from 2002 till the APS massacre in December 2014. Belatedly a political consensus on terrorism began to emerge. As events proved, this consensus was half hearted providing a chance to the forces of destruction to live and fight another day. The hurriedly agreed twenty point National Action Plan (NAP) was a stop-gap arrangement. As events stand today that law enforcement agencies (LEAs) were the only bright spot in NAP. The counter terrorism drive in Pakistan from 2015 onwards was a uni-directional operation lacking support from multiple directions with complementary pacification and supplementary operations. This is deliberate and bound to turn back the clock.

What do these multi direction pincers imply? In one phrase it means ‘the battle for hearts and minds of the people’; something easier said than done. Are we targeting and isolating extremists through a socio-economic reforms agenda, fast-track sustainable development and civic facilities. Pacification operations are nowhere in sight except in areas of Balochistan, FATA and PATA where the military is calling the shots. The military’s efforts though laudable are only a drop in the ocean. What about other areas of Pakistan proliferated with incubators of extremism? There are no alternatives or counter-narratives. These include reforms that resurrect the economy, reform the education system, governance, speedy justice, cut through corruption, nepotism, red tape and jobbery. In the immediate vicinity it also means hitting the many sanctuaries and incubators that breed intolerance and militancy. Though some aspects of this counter narrative are contained in the sketchy NAP, these have not transformed into an implementable policy. This carrot and stick policy is missing in Punjab and Sindh, the two most populous provinces of Pakistan.

The federal government, despite an overwhelming majority in the lower house, has always felt vulnerable. Its past two experiences in power ended with indirect and direct military interventions. Why does a group of politicians chosen and groomed by a military regime and later financed through intelligence agencies feel so edgy with the military? After all it was the military that midwifed them. It was the military that handed them back the House of Ittefaq with written off liabilities, retrenching the entire work force and an unprecedented grant of rupees forty crores. This plain and simple graft was boosted by the political positions they held later to amend laws that facilitated whitening of black money and laundering. Then trails begin to lead to the marshes of Panama.

Thus becomes apparent their unbridled quest to power. Had it not been the PPPP majority in Senate, they would have amended many a laws to their convenience. PTI holds them in check in the streets of Punjab. To them every shadow and every opposition is seen sponsored against them by the khakis. The tone and tenor of some of their spokespersons and the illogic propounded betray their frustrations.  This is where their pipedreams coalesce with foreign agendas. Therefore the special media cell, measured diatribes and disinformation. Battle lines are being drawn.

As time passes, the suspicions will become the obvious. At that point of time, Pakistan will pass through another phase of bloodshed. This will happen when the LEAs, even in absence of orders will be head on with many islands of militancy lying dormant in Punjab and operating in Sindh/Balochistan. It could also happen if militant organisations on a nod for any reason, take on the LEAs at their own.

Threats from Punjab are always implied. They leave enough room for Houdini acts.