STOCKTAKING

By Admiral M Afzal Tahir
June 28, 2022

What has happened with Pakistan, its state institutions and to the people
of Pakistan, in the last two months or so needs very careful and
impassionate analysis above political loyalties or inbuilt biases. This
analysis is crucially important because of many reasons internal and
external but predominantly because, in my opinion, Pakistan is currently
swimming against the tide of history and also because the state is
apparently crumbling with frightening potential consequences.

Why, I think the state is crumbling is for two main factors? Firstly, because
the state institutions have ceased to function for the benefit of the people
or (lately) even for their own benefit and secondly because the one
institution that was hitherto the ultimate line of defense has been eroded
of its moral authority, at least that is what the social media reflects. I had
written about the state standing on one pillar a few weeks ago during the
saga of no confidence vote and that pillar has also started to crumble due
to sheer weight of responsibility that it took upon itself and for the reason
that it had ceased to be an honest and impartial broker. Since the lawyer’s
movement to restore the then CJP, this one institution has taken upon
itself the arduous responsibility to ‘correct’ all that afflicts the state of
Pakistan. In their exuberance and misplaced confidence in their own
capability and capacity to do that, the institution not only infringed upon
the domains of other institutions of equal importance but also, wittingly or
inadvertently, became an entity above law of the land.

This practice, over the years, inculcated lack of confidence and eroded the will to do the right
thing within other institutions and also provided an avenue for dragging
country’s politics to the courts, not for getting the legally correct results but
for getting the desired outcomes. This so, because the institution that was
supposed to dispense justice to the masses, became a tool in the hands
of politicians through gross political interference in the matters of
placement of individuals in judiciary particularly the higher tiers of it. The
effect thus was that the courts started to devote more time and energy to
delving into matters pertaining to other institutions and lesser time on the
core functions of the courts.

This further eroded the already low confidence of public in matters of provision of justice. I do not want to go into the nitty gritty of how institutions are made and how they are
destroyed suffice to say that, unfortunately the courts particularly the
superior judiciary lost its glitter because of its politicization through a
process that had been deliberately set into motion by politicians and
eagerly accepted by the aspirants, whenever that happened.

The end result of all that has been that in the current desperate situation, the
honourable justices have failed to deliver prompt and correct verdicts
pertaining to the multifarious constitutional questions brought before the
courts. The SCP is charged with interpretation of the constitution, but
what interpretation is needed for the constitutional clause that forbids
courts to interfere in matters and proceedings within the elected houses?
The political circus being played in the largest province and the inability of
the court/s to decide the obvious are two cases in point. Resultantly, it is
the state that is in a state of paralysis for the last two months but there is
none apparently concerned about the dire situation let alone being able or
willing to do something to right the glaring wrongs. I could say much more
in harsher words but then!

Even more crucially important is the strategic direction that the country
appears to have adopted. This is the century of the East; many strategists
and notable writers have written bools about it. I had been thinking about
this aspect of our strategic trajectory and had concluded that we were
firmly and steadily on our way to be a part of the ‘east’.

The other factor that shaped my thinking was that our armed forces, over a period of time,
had been so easternized that going west was nearly impossible.
Furthermore Pakistan, whether some of us admit it or not, had been trying
hard to wash away the mutual mistrust between us and Russia, that had
developed because of the 1971 Soviet support for break up of Pakistan
and accentuated by the demise of Soviet Union with our wholehearted
involvement. Relations with Russia were in the process of development
while China had been an all-weather friend.

The greatest incentive for Pakistan to remain with the East was the CPEC. This undertaking was
the result of a political consensus in Pakistan; in fact, all political parties
and even the security establishment have laid claim to fatherhood of the
concept. It was therefore inconceivable that any force in Pakistan would
backtrack on this project slated to rid the country of all of its economic
woes, though there were sceptics, and I was and still am one of them.

Other reasons for us to move out of US orbit were its consistent skewed
policy vis a vis India and Pakistan and its policies of containment of China
and Russia, in strategic partnership with India. Add to this the history of
Pak-US relations over the last five decades (predominantly) and one
cannot but conclude that this relationship has been one of self-interest
and subjugation on the part of US and that of misplaced trust and
expectations on the part of Pakistan.

Pakistan is the only country in the world that stuck out its neck to protect the interests of its supposed ally and the latter was a mere spectator (at best) when the other partner was
being torn to pieces. Reportedly, all it took for the (then) Soviet Union to
scare the s**t out of fabled 7th Fleet was surfacing of one of its nuclear
submarines in the middle of the Carrier Task Force. It can also be safely
argued that US has been interested in further balkanization of Pakistan.
I had thus genuinely started to believe that Pakistan was trying its best to
get out of the US orbit. My cursory knowledge about orbits and satellites
tells me the difficulty and hence the effort that is involved in leaving an
orbit but also leaving an orbit gives the satellite so much speed that it can
travel through the cosmos. Is there any similarity between Pakistan trying
to leave US orbit and a satellite trying to leave the earth orbit? The readers
may decide.

It is no more a secret or even something that one can have genuine doubts
about that ouster of IK government was through a classic regime change
operation orchestrated by the US. Despite counter propaganda, every
sensible Pakistani has now become aware, rather is convinced, that
Pakistan was on an upward trajectory under the previous government.
Not only economy but many other aspects of statehood were being
handled, let us say, better than had been done for many decades prior.

Regrettably, the installed (imported) government has fallen head over
heals to the demands of its benefactor for destroying everything built
during PTI government.

The economy is in ruins, there is unprecedented price hike across the spectrum and unfortunately the country has lost diplomatic ground faster than the speed of light. Afterall, it takes a lot of
doing (or undoing) to go from being the center stage of regional diplomacy
to being left out of a very significant dialogue event by our very own iron
brother. No matter how one looks at it, the situation is dire with none
interested in taking the helm of the derelict ship that the state of Pakistan
has become in mere two months.

There have been losers and there have been winners in all this. To talk
about the winners, it is quite obvious that the architect of regime change
has benefitted the most. The next on the podium is the corrupt and
discredited political dispensation that has managed to rid itself of all the
dangers to their personal fortunes and well-being, lurking in the shape of
NAB and other accountability and crime fighting institutions of the country.
The laws enacted by the sham parliament regarding accountability can
only be the handiwork of utterly shameless and thoroughly corrupt
individuals.

Further, it could only have been done by individuals who have
no care or even concern for the wellbeing of the state and common man,
and when someone, like me, uses the word traitor for them, they feel very
offended. This criminal political dispensation has also ensured that they
would continue to drive and ride the bandwagon of electoral success
through rigging of elections with the connivance and cover of the
institution charged with ensuring sanctity of the process.

The losers in this have obviously been the PTI because of their fraudulent
removal from the government. Furthermore, no regime change operation
ever leaves any chance in hell for the ousted government to make a
comeback and that is the fate of PTI.

The going is going to get increasingly arduous and dangerous for them as a party and as
individuals. The next big loser in this sad saga is the country’s security
establishment. The people of the country have always loved its armed
forces and have been at the forefront of its defense against propagandistic
efforts to subvert its integrity, image and esteem. When some accused it
of being solely responsible for surrendering half of the country, there were
many who made efforts to highlight the negative role played by the political
elite in that national disaster.

When there were accusations of extra judicial killings, when there were accusations with regard to missing persons, when there were accusations with regard to interference in
political activities, when there were aspersions on land allotments, when
there was criticism on estate related activities, when there were
accusations of gobbling up large portion of national budget, when there
were accusations of military failures, when there were accusations of
intelligence failures; whenever, the detractors came up with a slur against
the military establishment, there were people who came forward to
highlight the nefarious designs of those hurling the abuse. Furthermore,
when the military establishment told the nation about who were involved
in activities against Pakistan and how, most believed their word without
any further ado. When military personnel were martyred fighting the antistatic terrorists, the nation eulogized them and cried for them as well.

In short, there were always people to stand by the side of the security
establishment and to deflect and blunt the criticism directed at it, but not
now, not during this episode. It is thus clearly evident that either actually
or perceptually, a significant number of people of the country have come
to hold a negative perspective about the military establishment with regard
to nexus with regime change orchestrator and for playing active partisan
role in the entire episode. It might take 50 years to build that previous
image again as indeed it took that many years of moulding after East
Pakistan disaster.

In the final analysis, the biggest loser has been the state of Pakistan and
its hapless people, and what we have witnessed in the last two months is
only the beginning. It is also sad that for the first time I make the
distinction between security establishment’s loss and that of
Pakistan.

There are a number of scenarios that can be painted as a result
of the total capitulation of the country to the dictates of one who has never
wished the country well even when Pakistan was its ‘non-NATO Ally’, ‘the
cornerstone of its foreign policy’, ‘a partner in fight against terrorism’ etc.
Any prescription written by Dr. USA cannot be for the cure of illnesses
afflicting Pakistan, rather it might very well be for causing permanent
paralysis. The subservience to India and recognition of Israel would
appear to be very pleasant in comparison to what this country and its
people would be compelled to endure in very near future.

The criminal ‘gang of thirteen’ (political parties) that has been installed at
the helm of affairs and illegitimately thrust on the people is historically
incapable of keeping Pakistan’s interests supreme and will do all that will
be asked by the master and that cannot be in the best interest of the
country.

I, personally would have been more at ease if a bunch of trained
chimpanzees had been herded into the assembly building and the PM’s
residence instead of the known crooks, seasoned criminals, blackmailers,
drug traffickers, murderers, money launderers and outright traitors that
occupy those premises now.

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