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The future of Pakistan: The movement and the ground realities

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of political opposition parties.
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of political opposition parties.

In my earlier article titled ‘Bas ho chuki namaz musalla uthaiye‘ which was published in The Rational Daily, I had mentioned that despite all the rallies and hue and cry created by the People’s Democratic Movement PDM) in Pakistan it is unlikely to be of much consequence.

No doubt Pakistan is facing a severe economic crisis because of which people are suffering. Prices of essential commodities like foodstuffs and medicines have gone up the roof, and there is mounting unemployment. However, despite these, the people of Pakistan are unlikely to give much support to the PDM as it is an unholy alliance of corrupt leaders like Nawaz Sharif ( mentioned in the Panama Papers ) and his daughter Maryam ( who was alleged by Imran Khan to have 4 huge flats in England ), Bilawal Bhutto whose corrupt mother Benazir took huge amounts of money abroad, and whose father Asif Zardari was known as Mr 10%. Maulana Fazlur Rahman, that Rasputin of Pakistan, a rank fraud and opportunist, etc. These persons have no real love for the people of Pakistan, but are a disgruntled motley lot having nothing in common ( in fact earlier for years they had been at each other’s throats ), but now they have united because they are out of power and not enjoying the loaves of office.

I had also stated in my article that Nawaz Sharif’s attack from London in his online speech in the PDM rally in Gujranwala against Gen Bajwa and some other Generals, probably thinking that this would divide the Pakistani Generals and provoke some to stage a coup against the army chief, is unlikely to have any effect. An army, by its very nature, is different from a mob. It is a highly disciplined organisation, with a hierarchy and chain of command, each person on a lower rank unquestioningly carrying out the orders of his superior. The army chief is at the top of this hierarchy, and the corps commanders ( of the rank of Lt Gen ), even if they sometimes disagree with him, will ultimately carry out his orders. They know that breach of this discipline destroys an army, and therefore themselves. So there will be no coup in the Pakistan army, whatever Nawaz Sharif may think.

The Pakistani army officers are fiercely protective of their Generals, both serving and retired, and will not tolerate their humiliation, because they know if this happens one day they too may meet a similar fate. In fact, it is probably because Nawaz Sharif started hounding Gen Musharraf that the army turned on him.

The essence of a state is its military-bureaucratic establishment. In Pakistan, the army is the real power, though it prefers to shield and screen itself by a veneer of a civil government, as that gives it power without responsibility. Imran Khan is clever enough to realise this, and as long as he keeps the army happy ( which he is doing with great alacrity ) he is safe.

To think that a mob can fight and disperse an army, even if a hundred times smaller in numbers, is unrealistic and silly. It reminds one of Vendemiare in Paris in October 1795 when 4000 troops under Napoleon Bonaparte ( then a Brig Gen ) dispersed a mob numerically ten times larger by ‘ a whiff of grapeshot ‘.

So all the PDM’s horses and all the PDM’s men cannot have any effect on the Pakistan ruling establishment, however many rallies they may hold. However, there is one factor which can have effect, and it is this which needs to be considered.

Earlier, Pakistan was pro-America and was closely tied to it, economically and militarily. But now it has also become close to China, which has emerged as the second superpower in the world. China has closer proximity to Pakistan and has hugely invested in it. The CPEC has forged a strong link between the two countries. The Chinese are taking away huge amounts of raw materials from Balochistan. Gwadar Port has been given on a 40-year lease to China. Pakistani markets are full of cheap Chinese goods.

So Pakistan, which earlier had only one master, now has two. It is well known that hostility between these two, USA and China, is steadily increasing, and this is bound to have an effect on the ruling Pakistani Establishment, which may well be torn apart, one part siding with America and the other with China.

The mere discontent in the Pakistani people ( over rising prices, unemployment, etc ) by itself is unlikely to cause an overthrow of the rulers. But if coupled with, and supported by one of the two masters mentioned above ( which may feel threatened by the other’s ascendancy ), this may well happen in the long run, caused by a fissure in Pakistan’s ruling Establishment. Interesting times are coming in Pakistan.

Markandey Katju

Written by Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is the former Chairman, Press Council of India. Prior to his appointment as Chairman, Press Council of India, he served as a Permanent judge at the Supreme Court of India.

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