O democracy-Dr Farrukh Saleem

In less than a year, our democrats have proven at least four things: First, they are suicide attackers. Second, our politicians lack the maturity to run a modern coalition, parliamentary democracy. Third, our superior judiciary continues to be an extension of the executive branch. Fourth, so vicious is the craving for power that our politicians have no time to formulate policy for a country that’s on fire.

On Feb 18, 2008, the PPP got 30.6 percent of votes. Imagine; 10,606,486 Pakistani voters voted for the PPP. And now the same party has imposed a civilian martial law over 90 million residents of Punjab. In essence, more than half of Pakistan now has no democracy under the democratically elected PPP.

For the PPP, the best case scenario would be a rather brief, sluggish street agitation followed by a PPP-PML-Q government in Punjab. The numbers game, however, does not favour the PPP, as it needs to “buy” 79 MPAs to form a majority in a house of 370, while the PML-N needs a mere 17. The three other scenarios are: First, a PML-N—PML-Q coalition government. Second, a PPP—PML-N patch-up. Third, an extended period of agitation leading to anarchy. A PPP-PML-N patch-up seems highly unlikely. Of the other three scenarios, the PPP loses in at least two and the probability of a military intervention—either covert or overt, probably covert—is high in at least two of the three scenarios.

The commanding general of XII Corps, with the 33rd and the 41st Infantry Divisions under his command, has already whispered into someone’s ear that his colleagues were “tying up their laces—just in case.” Does anyone hear the sounds of boots marching?

Within one short year our democrats have pushed Pakistan deep into the eye of a firestorm. To be certain, the lawyers are no longer in control of the conflagration as the heat of the original fire is sucking in more and more of the air surrounding the firestorm. The long march followed by an indefinite dharna means a self-sustaining, uncontrolled fire-wind-system—aimed more at toppling Zardari than to reinstate the de jure chief justice.

Pakistan is more chaotic than ever before, but Chaos Theory suggests that “an apparent lack of order in a system…nevertheless obeys particular laws or rules” (a phenomenon first explained by physicist Henri Poincare). What really is the underlying order in our widespread disorder? Answer: Political immaturity of our democrats. Our chaos is indeed the result of the games that our democrats insist on playing with each other—all at the cost of Pakistan. That takes us into Games Theory. The two “feuding brothers” are playing games with each other. Their game, however, is prone to the “imperfect information paradigm.” The presidency takes neither the media nor civil society into account and Nawaz Sharif’s ideological boundaries overlap with the Taliban’s. And neither is taking Pakistan into account.

The article by Ayaz Amir—the PML-N MNA from Chakwal—this week was titled “Waters too deep for us.” “Suicide democrats” was the title of an article by Raza Rumi. The Toronto Star called it the “Afghanization of Pakistan.” Ahmed Rashid’s title this week was “A dangerous void in Pakistan.” Australia’s ABC Local Radio said that Pakistan is in “danger of imploding.” According to The Australian, “Pakistan’s problems require tough love.” The Daily Telegraph opined: “If you think Afghanistan is a mess, just look across the border to Pakistan. It is a country teetering on the brink of total collapse.”

“Who will save Pakistan?” wrote Simon Tisdall in The Guardian. On Oct 12, 1999, General Pervez Musharraf took over Islamabad, dissolved the civilian government, suspended the constitution, but did not impose martial law. (Remember, General Zia had imposed martial law.) On Jan 11, 2007, General Moeenuddin Ahmed—further refined Musharraf’s modus operandi—saved Bangladesh from the two “feuding sisters” by taking over Dhaka without taking over the Bangabhaban, the official residence of the President of Bangladesh. The Atlantic Council of the United States in its report “Needed: A comprehensive US policy towards Pakistan,” said the world only has between six to 12 months to save Pakistan. If Pakistan fails we all fail. Who will save Pakistan? Who will give us tough love?

The writer is the executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). Email: farrukh15@hotmail.com




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