The “On-one-page” or “not-on-one-page” debate has been on during the previous days and weeks. A deep look at the controversy reveals that the nationalist army and globalist civil government are not on the same page as their interests are way apart.

The civil government supported by global institutions like the IMF and World Bank is promoting the interests of world system/status-quo while Pakistan army has transformed itself to become a nationalistic institution during the last couple of decades. The IMF is pushing its agenda and a series of new taxes have been imposed during the last seven years to hamper real economic growth in the country. Pakistan International Airline (national symbol and carrier) and Pakistan Steel Mills (a great national asset) are being privatized under the pressure of the IMF. In short, the government is flirting with the economy and such actions could be fatal for the survival of the state of Pakistan.

In the past, army was part and parcel of global/regional system as its interests were generally common with the exception of 1971 events (separation of East Pakistan) and Kargil adventure of 1999. However, out of learnings from history and from the aftermath of 9/11 events, Pakistan army decided to wean away from US-dependent forces to an independent army and tilted towards regional powers (China and Russia).

China-supported local production of JF-17 fighter aircraft and indigenous manufacturing of long/short range missiles/tactical weapons along with state-of-the art nuclear technology boosted the confidence of the state of Pakistan. Significantly improved relations with Russia helped increase self-reliance of the armed forces.

Unfortunately, political government still believes that it could stay-on with the ongoing support of the global system at the cost of critical national interests. The government should understand that regional relations and the global system are undergoing tremendous change. China is set to become the largest world economy, Russia is challenging America in the Middle East, South America is unhappy with neighbouring USA, and European Union is becoming increasingly independent under the leadership of German Chancellor Angela Markel. India, on the contrary, under the leadership of US-sponsored Prime Minister Narendra Modi still aligns with America (this may however be a temporary phenomenon).

On the other, the state of Pakistan is duly aware about the rapidly changing world scenario. The Army Chief Raheel Sharif supported hugely by the people of Pakistan on account of his overall conduct and the launch of Zarb-e-Azb/National Action Plan, has made cardinal visits to the USA, UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Russia. The combination of the importance to the Army Chief by world leaders and the great popularity at home make him the most powerful person to change the course of politico-military relations in Pakistan.

In the context of variant understanding about the world system by the army and political government, and due to the resulting differential bent by the two entities, they cannot be on one page. The apparent gridlock is fast moving to a ‘point of no return’¸ and Pakistan may face a new showdown of power politics.

During the last few weeks, the inauguration of several energy generation and motorway projects allude towards an unusual anxiety among top circles of the government. The intermittent flow of money from the IMF/World Bank is being used to show the growth of foreign currency reserves. Actually, the economy of Pakistan is weakening day-by-day due to increasing internal and external debt.

Moody’s (US-based economic health rating agency) has upgraded the health of Pakistan’s economy recently. It has done so in the past to help save the image of governments worldwide. It may be remembered that the former Chief of the IMF Mr Dominique Strauss Kahn (DSK) said that Pakistan’s financial rating has been maneuvered for political purposes (interviewed, August 19, 2015, CCTV).

On November 22, 2015 the news on the front pages was: (i) monetary deficit halved, (ii) Khanewal Motorway inaugurated, (iii) that the “dismissal of governments halted progress, according to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

These media communications clearly show that the government seems shaky and any action by the army will be used for political martyrdom as all the major political parties (PPP, MQM, etc.), except cricketer turned politician Imran khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf, are in coalition with the PML-N government.

Sustaining the state of Pakistan is important for the emerging global system; its growth and development is vital for Pakistani nation and its army. They both are the major stakeholders of Pakistan. Many of the powerful politicians revolve around their personal/party interests. The unfortunate clash of interests is not good for Pakistan and its people. Ultimately, the polity/public will prevail and state will act for its survival. Accordingly, the politicians and government are advised to work hand-in-hand with the state and sacrifice their temporal interests (wealth and some corrupt politicians).

It may be noted that wealth can be generated again and some politicians will always be replaced by others. This is a natural/historical process and should continue. As a result, the state will prosper and become stronger; in the continuum, the politicians will have a chance to survive and prosper in future. Long live Pakistan.

 The writer is a Professor at the Institute of Social & Cultural Studies, University of the Punjab, Lahore.