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On this 76th independence anniversary of Pakistan, the heart is sorely charged, the spirit wilting and the mind under the overwhelming shadow of the uncertainty the future holds.

Anwaarul Haq Kakar, no doubt for his redoubtable services to the establishment in creating the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) as the vehicle for a continuing undemocratic and repressive order in Balochistan, has been anointed caretaker Prime Minister (PM).

Criticism of the appointment of a political figure to the role, envisaged as an impartial arbiter of the electoral exercise and day-to-day manager of the business of government, no doubt prompted Kakar to resign from his party and Senate seat. Whether this will be sufficient to remove the doubts about his impartiality remains to be seen.

Akhtar Mengal, chief of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), has put to rest the argument about the appointment of a caretaker PM from a smaller (in population) province being aimed at placating the grievances of the people of Balochistan by stating in a message to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif(in self-imposed exile by now) that the appointment of Kakar without any consultation with allies has caused dismay and further widened the distance between the BNP-M and PML-N.

He goes on to say that the appointment of a man from a rival party to the BNP-M as caretaker PM, which has closed the doors of politics for us, is cause for lamentation at the actions of politicians approaching the establishment for the solution of every problem instead of resolving issues politically.

He then warns Nawaz Sharif that the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM’s) coalition government has once again weakened democratic institutions by legislating hurriedly in the dark without involving its allies.

In a prophetic tone whose message is borne out by past experience, Mengal tells Nawaz Sharif that legislation contrary to human rights will probably be used against him in future. A flurry of Bills strengthening the arbitrary powers of security and law enforcement agencies was rammed through parliament in the dying days of former PM Shahbaz Sharif’s government.

Last but not least, Mengal laments the fact that the Pak-China Gwadar University was being built in Lahore instead of Balochistan and Gwadar Airport was being named after former (late) PM Feroze Khan Noon whose name most people in Balochistan might not even be aware of. Another dissident voice regarding Kakar has been heard from the Awami National Party’s Aimal Wali Khan, who does not expect Kakar to be a fit candidate to conduct impartial, free and fair elections.

In the last days of his government, Shehbaz Sharif had taken to describing himself as the ‘blue-eyed boy’ of the establishment. At first one thought he was simply stating the obvious, despite his reminding us that he had been incarcerated by both Musharraf and Imran Khan, since it is no secret Shehbaz was always prone to compromise with the establishment, unlike his elder brother Nawaz, even at the worst of times.

However, perhaps belatedly the idea sank in that this repeated statement was not only being taken literally, but may well be feeding into pre-existing public perception. Hence PML-N’s troubleshooter former Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb was trotted out to put the spin on Shehbaz’s repeated statements that he had said it ‘satirically’.

Perhaps, Ms Aurangzeb, but that is not how the public sees it, especially when Shehbaz advocates a ‘hybrid system’, which, stripped of its cover, simply means a military-dominated setup.

On Independence Day, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir sought to rouse the people of Pakistan to their patriotic duty vis-à-vis the country and reject the doomsayers, all and sundry. As Independence Day speeches from army chiefs go, this was neither exceptional nor exceptionable.

However, one was surprised to read the COAS quoting Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah to the effect: “There is no power on earth, which can undo Pakistan.” Perhaps this is a reflection of our collective amnesia regarding the events of 1971. Jinnah’s Pakistan was undone then by our own mistakes.

The failure to remind ourselves of that painful fact means we have not, and are unlikely to, learn the appropriate lessons from that disaster.

Meanwhile, the military’s economic role, already a considerable and growing phenomenon, has been further enhanced through its involvement in the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and corporate farming, without even, in the case of the latter, a glance at the needs of landless and smallholding farmers in our unequal society.

As though the uncertainties surrounding the date for the general elections, exacerbated by the last-minute decision of the Council of Common Interests that the next elections be held on the basis of the 2023 census, were not enough, the tussle between the judiciary and parliament continues, with the Supreme Court (SC) having ruled, only one day after the dissolution of the National Assembly, the SC (Review of Judgements and Orders) Act 2023 null and void and an interference in the constitutional jurisdiction and powers of the judiciary.

Since the Act, some say, was intended, amongst other considerations such as the right of appeal, etc, to help Nawaz Sharif challenge his disqualification (since reduced to five years, which are up), the Senate’s eight parties have reacted by terming the SC ruling ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘interference in the ambit of parliament’.

Thus the old conflict between these two pillars of the state seems bent to continue indefinitely. Naturally, this places a further cloud of uncertainty over future political stability, the minimum condition for Pakistan being able to wriggle out of its enormous economic problems, the resurrection of the IMF-Saudi Arabia-UAE-China begging bowl notwithstanding.

One cannot in all honesty offer any good news or optimism, even regarding the near future, since so many imponderables and unknowns are rendering the country’s horizons cloudy and obscure.

Happy Independence Day.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Rashed Rahman

[email protected] , rashed-rahman.blogspot.com

Comments

Comments are closed.

KU Aug 15, 2023 11:53am
Perhaps the General needs to see Pakistan's financial statement and feasibility report, fingers crossed, who knows, something good might come out of this knowledge. If we look at our economic sectors' status and their uncertain future, it would be fair to say that we are now in the twilight zone, and we are headed toward suffering.
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Awami Aug 15, 2023 07:43pm
@KU, Unfair comments. He is military person as new caretaker PM was just in position he was forced to address as like chief govt officer. He overall gave time appropriate time message. The writer is right also with criticism of Army Chief. He is right when he wrote 'However, one was surprised to read the COAS quoting Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah to the effect: “There is no power on earth, which can undo Pakistan.” Perhaps this is a reflection of our collective amnesia regarding the events of 1971. Jinnah’s Pakistan was undone then by our own mistakes." I respect Army Chief and writer also for doing their duty. We need to start doing our own day to day average work extraordinary way. Thime has come to stop blaming.
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