The Political Crisis and the Collapse of Institutions in Pakistan:  how the ongoing situation there is being seen in Kashmir

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The Collapsing National Institutions of Pakistan

 

by Prof. M. A. Sofi, Srinagar, Kashmir      10 August 2022

The feudal lords of Pakistan masquerading as politicians, bureaucrats, top court judges, army top brass and the big business houses have demonstrated ‘uncommon intelligence’! That may sound surprising and even disingenuous, but that’s true. This because they now know full well that if Imran Khan continues to weave magic and cast a spell on the masses of Pakistan who look upon him as their saviour, a most popular and the tallest leader of Pakistan and that once he is back in power, he would go after them and they would lose, not only their wealth and wherewithal but their face too. And that is not without reason – over long decades of their stay in power, they have swindled the public exchequer of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of wealth and stashed that away in safe overseas banks in Europe and elsewhere. Which is why they are going the whole hog to close ranks with each other and leaving nothing to chance to make sure that Imran Khan is embroiled in one false case after another so that he is either arrested or disqualified for a certain period and the space thus created would be left open for Shareef’s, Zardaris and their minions to step into and to continue with their wayward and obnoxious ways.

As a concerned citizen and a well-wisher of Pakistan who happens to be living on the other side of the border here in the Srinagar city of the Kashmir valley, I am deeply dismayed by the turn of events in that country, not the least because the continuing chaos and instability there can and does impact the situation on my side of Kashmir for reasons that are too well known to bear repeating here. Here I may add that what I have said in these lines completely resonates with the dominant view across vast sections of the Kashmiri society who are naturally disillusioned and who feel let down by what’s currently going on over there. Apart from that, the crisis in Pakistan shall also have far reaching implications on the security situation in the wider region. It may surprise many in Pakistan that what India has not been able to achieve in the last seven decades in weaning away Kashmiris from their deep love and affinity that they have for Pakistan has been accomplished in one fell swoop as a result of such acts of deceit and stratagem as resorted to by the department of dirty tricks within the most powerful centres of power in Pakistan.

Coming to this latest development pertaining to a case where Imran Khan is being held guilty of contempt of court involving his reference during a public speech to a district court judge, one is at a loss to understand how has such a patently insignificant issue been allowed to snowball into a major clash between Imran Khan and the major institutions of Pakistan. Here it bears recalling that the concerned judge had earlier decreed a two-day physical remand on close aide Shehbaaz Gill which was sought by the police and that IK’s reference in his speech to the said verdict as being poor in law – that it rightly was – and that his party would “legally proceed” against her for that verdict has attracted undeserved opprobrium from all the opposite quarters including from the full bench of the Islamabad high court constituted for the purpose. Surprisingly, the court has now chosen to reject his plea for apology and has instead directed that FIR be filed against him on Sept.22nd. Imran Khan’s outburst, which was by no means directed against the judiciary, but bespoke his reservations on the merits of the judge’s remarks, may be seen against the backdrop of the unlawful and ghastly act of kidnapping and subsequent incarceration of Shebaaz Gill followed by his physical and sexual torture on the laughable plea that he had uttered something about the Pak army that had not gone down well with them as it was being perceived as an attempt to cause dissention in the army. Even this flagrant case of human rights violation of Shabaaz Gill under police custody has not ruffled the feathers of the holy cow called the Pak judiciary who, in fact, were duty bound to have taken suo motto action against the police for subjecting him to unspeakable physical violence.

Raising insignificant issues like these or such nonstarters as the toshakhana or the foreign funding case are part of a long list of do’s and do-not’s surrounding this vicious and carefully choreographed regime change operation which is now underway, courtesy the roguish Pak army which has thrown its weight behind those who had hatched the conspiracy by getting the state institutions, especially the highly compromised and dubious Pak judiciary fall in line and do things at their bidding. The idea is simply to knock him out from the political arena on “technical grounds”, even as the powerful quarters/lobbies behind this drama are painfully aware of the fact that it’s impossible to rule out Imran Khan from reckoning through legal and legitimate means in the political battlefield of Pakistan.

What’s far more outrageous is the realisation how these self-same institutions choose to look the other way when many times more of similar and far more serious offences including what are obvious acts of contempt of court by those on the other side of the fence are committed with impunity and these kangaroo courts are perfectly comfortable with such transgressions. And these shady, erring characters, the law breakers are exactly those who have been pitchforked by these larger than life lords and masters of this unfortunate country’s destiny to impose them on the hapless and suffering masses of Pakistan by conspiring to dislodge the duly elected government of Imran Khan.

The dismal scenario surrounding the role of institutions in Pakistan as enunciated above has got me constantly wondering how the Pakistani Establishment comprising the army, the judiciary, the police, the bureaucracy and not excluding large sections of the Pak media have been acting in tandem and in ways that would only aggravate the crisis and help spell doom and gloom to that country. The uneasy conclusion that follows from this observation is inescapable: there has to be something terribly wrong with the contemporary system as it prevails there where those tasked with the job of running and leading these institutions are being schooled, trained and certified to have achieved a certain amount of wisdom, knowledge and gravitas necessary for delivering to the great cause of the country. Sadly, such epistemic virtues as mentioned above are seen to be completely absent from their midst “jaise gadhay ke sur se seeng“, as one say in the vernacular. Today’s decision by the Islamabad high court threatening action against Imran Khan may be seen in the light of how they all have ganged up to reduce that country to a farce, a laughing stock in the comity of nations. No other judiciary in the world go as far as to invoke such draconian measures against someone for a putative offence that the ‘guilty’  cannot be charged in the first place. An application of the same line of reasoning as advocated by these jokers in the Islamabad high court against Imran Khan to the context of India would condemn one Mr UD Salvi, a retired high court judge to the gallows for calling into question the legality of releasing the eleven criminals by the Gujarat high court who were involved in the mass rape of Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Gujarat riots. It’s curious how the courts in the two neighbouring countries are vying with each other, emulating the darker side of the other.

The bottomline is that those who have been in charge of that country over the past seven decades, with the possible exception of the post 2018-2021 period, have resorted to every single dirty trick in the trade to perpetuate their stranglehold on power in pursuit of pelf and prurience by subordinating its institutions to its will. What’s even more disconcerting is the thought how these institutions have gleefully allowed themselves to fall in line and to capitulate to arm twisting by the “high and mighty” that has brought nothing but shame, pain and misery to its people. However, the silver lining is the realisation how the people of that country have shown uncommon grit, wisdom and understanding to rally behind the man who alone has the will, the passion and the guts to deliver and to steer that country out of the shambolic mess that it has been pushed into. This sets them completely apart from their counterparts across the border who have shown an almost complete lack of wisdom and mental acumen by continuing to root for a man who is on a dangerous mission in his country.