Our beloved Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a gift of providence, which is being played around like a game of Jenga by serving the political and bureaucratic elite. Jenga is a game of physical skill created by the British. Players take turns removing one block at a time from a tower constructed with 54 blocks. The rules include: taking one block on a turn from any level of the tower (except the one below an incomplete top level) and placing it on the topmost level in order to complete it. The game ends when the tower falls. For a long time, power players have been siphoning off national building blocks. However, the state continues to impressively stand tall, but on shaky grounds that is susceptible to collapse anytime. Things may look fine right now, but the entire edifice could cave in more quickly than many of us realsze. Although a doomsday forecast is not intended yet, avoidance of the undesirable ostrich approach would only be possible if the senior generation could take upon itself to pass on the painful saga to avoid a repeat of past blunders that resulted in the greatest loss of half the country in 1971.

The crisis of leadership has given birth to countless and seemingly insurmountable challenges like rampant corruption in every walk of life, illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, uncontrolled population growth, extremism and sectarianism. Our internal and external policies have become hostage to international financial institutions, thanks to the mountain of foreign debt piled up by the so-called elite whose dirty share is stacked abroad. This rampant lust and greed have resulted in the loss of moral and cultural values. Furthermore, the cultural invasion by our foes through social media, cable channels, vulgar films and dramas has resulted in disillusioned and directionless youth. Our education system is generally busy in dishing out degrees without useful skills. The absence of research and development, poor scientific and industrial base has kept us mostly confined to imports and we are far behind even SAARC countries in this regard.

Ironically, all political parties in Pakistan continue to win elections on the promises of the provision of basic human needs like food, shelter, clothing, housing, clean drinking water, health care, electricity, road infrastructure, schools and dispensaries and more. However, quite sadly, the masses have been largely kept deprived and dependent on basic life support in accordance with a well-planned and sustained political strategy in the last seven decades. This means that their loyalty is regularly exploited through the works of a corrupt system. To top it all, in addition to such a hopeless scenario, the country has remained subjected to multiple external and internal threats duly backed up by a host of proxies and intrigues.

Nevertheless, despite such a gloomy picture, the Jenga tower continues to stand. Who or what is keeping this fragile balance? Based on my brief analysis of the national politico-economic montage in 1990, my take was that in the given milieu, the armed forces of Pakistan will continue to act as the national Centre of Gravity (COG) which will keep the edifice standing. However, in order to destabilise Pakistan, the hostile forces will make consistent efforts to target and undermine this COG by tarnishing its image and by keeping it embroiled on multiple fronts. As such, unfortunately, my humble assessment 30 years ago has proved right and recently got vindicated by Mr. Adam Garrie, an Australian independent thinker and Director of ‘Eurasia Future’ who said in an interview to a TV channel, “Pakistan’s arrogant sectors of elite society should stop questioning the Army’s motives and ethics. If not for the heroic stand of the Army against terrorist groups in the first decades of the 21st century, there would have been a very real possibility that Pakistan would have been destroyed by the terrorists.”

The recently concluded political parties’ conference, the Pakistan Democratic Movement Alliance, found it convenient to launch an unprovoked and nefarious attack on the COG to create mayhem in the country. Can Pakistan’s armed forces and superior judiciary afford to keep taking it lightly? My message to the Pakistani elite is not to target the national COG whether you like it or hate it; otherwise there is nothing else in the foreseeable future that will keep the Jenga Tower intact. It would be wonderful if 10 or 20 years from now, sceptics scoff at my mislaid doom and gloom.