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Pakistan’s Political Dynamics 2020 Continue as Fragile and Fragmentary

Paper No. 6689                            Dated 6-Oct-2020

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Pakistan’s internal dynamics when analysed in 2020 as Pakistan edges towards 75 years of its Independence present a dismal and depressing scene where Pakistan’s polity continues as ‘Fragile and Fragmentative’  thereby contributive to preventing emergence of a ‘Robust & Vibrant Democracy’.

Pakistan’s ‘Fragile and Fragmentative’ political dynamics apparently suits the Pakistan Army Generals as it facilitates their direct military intervention in form of keeping Pakistan under long spells of military rule.

Even when in intermittent spells when not directly imposing military governance over Pakistan, the Pakistan Army keeps civilian Governments on a tight leash and manipulating downfall of those civilian Governments which attempt to impose civilian political control over the Pakistan Army. Pakistan Army’s notorious oversized intelligence wing-the ISI is used by Pakistan Army for such hatchet jobs.

The above has been evident in the case of contrived execution of President Bhutto and assassination of PM Benazir Bhutto by Pakistan Army Chiefs. More recently it was the contrived toppling of PM Nawaz Sharif as he was just three months short of completing an unprecedented  second term as Prime Minister.

Pakistan’s socio-political and socio-economic societal conditions need to be highly blamed analytically in that even after 73 years of Independence Pakistan has lacked to facilitate democratic institutions promotive of the emergence of a ‘Grass Roots Prime Minister’ with a mass pan-Pakistan following.

 Unlike India next door, where Indian Prime Ministers have emerged from grass-roots level, within Pakistan, the vested elitist combine has impeded the grass-roots nurturing of democratic instincts and institutions.

Pakistan’s civilian Prime Ministers too have emerged from elitist, immensely rich feudal vast land-holding families or from newly rich industrial families which emerged in Pakistan in the 1950s.

In the above two factors reposes he most significant exploitative factor of Pakistan’s political dynamics fragility and fragmentation.

Sometimes one wonders whether vibrant and robust democracy as a political tenet of 21st Century independent nations is ‘alien’ for Islamic Countries.

This doubt gets reinforced like in the case of Turkey today where a modern, secular and progressive State has regressed into Islamist trappings under President Erdogan. Curiously Turkey today seems to be the lodestar model for Pakistan’s current ‘Pakistan Army Selectee’ Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Many Islamic/Islamist countries abound around the globe which range from autocratic to repressive. The world does not care for them until they emerge as threats to regional security.

But Pakistan is the only Islamist country which is a nuclear weapons power and where nuclear weapons unlike in other democratic countries where nuclear weapons are under civilian Prime Minister’s control, in Pakistan this nuclear arsenal is controlled by Pakistan Army Chief even in those spells when a Civilian Prime Minister hold office.

The above creates a potent regional and global security threat as ‘democracy checkmates’ are absent in Pakistan’s fragile and fragmented political dynamics. If for nothing else, Pakistan’s democracy should be a pressing strategic imperative for all Major Powers with a stake in regional and global security.

Analysis of Pakistan’s infirmities with regard to Pakistan’s fragility and fragmentation would be incomplete without highlighting the role of United States and China, in that sequential order, of being significant contributors to perpetuation of suppression of democracy in Pakistan.

The United States for many decades till the turn of the Millennium preferred that Pakistan be controlled by Pakistan Army Chiefs who unquestioningly colluded and connived with United States in prosecution of its Cold War strategies and later the two US military interventions in Afghanistan.

China in the second decade of the 21st Century has established a vice-like colonial grip over Pakistan’s future courtesy once again the Pakistan Army Chiefs. Pointed out in my Book and in my writings for over a decade is the fact that today Pakistan has morphed from being “United States Front Line State” to now as an even more strategically fanatic “China’s Front Line State” and an active colluder in the China-Pakistan Axis against India.

China in decades to come will actively impede the return of robust and vibrant democracy to Pakistan as that would go against its crucial strategic investments in Pakistan.

Adding to this unholy witch’s stew in which Pakistan boils yearning for robust democracy is the insidious role of Pakistan’s Islamic fundamentalist “Mullahs” theocracy. While they may not have much hold in Pakistan’s urban areas they have a strong influence in Pakistan’s feudal dominated rural areas.

Pakistan’s Islamic fundamentalist Mullah Theocracy has been a ‘natural ally’ of Pakistan Army Generals and enjoyed Sate protection, financing and ISI-sponsored terrorism training to be used against Pakistan’s flanks in Afghanistan and India.  Pakistan Army’s ISI was actively involved in training, financing and move to United States of perpetrators of the horrific 9/11 suicide bombings in New York and Washington.

In 2020, when peering into perspectives of coming decades no optimistic indicators exist on the horizon, which suggest that short of a miracle, Pakistan would be able to break the shackles analysed above, which perpetuate Pakistan’s political dynamics fragility and fragmentation.

Pakistan came very close in 2007-08 when mass public marches and demonstrations forced General Musharraf to quit power. Later, once again, former PM Nawaz Sharif’s ‘Million Man March’ also signified that Pakistan’s civil society, lawyers, students and Pakistani women can take to the streets to demand restoration of robust democracy in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s latent yearnings of purist democracy without ‘Guided Democracy’ as first propounded by Pakistan’s first military ruler—Field Marshal Ayub Khan, only needs one ‘bright spark’ of a messianic Pakistani political leader.

Concluding, it needs to be emphasised that Pakistan today has an incremental growing middle-class segment which can provide that much needed ‘bright spark’ to ignite the flames for purist democracy and which should force the hands of leaders of its major political parties like the PPP and PML-N to unite to force the Pakistan Army Generals to return to the barracks and submit to civilian political control. In that lies Pakistan’s future salvation. Towards this direction the Pakistani expatriates in countries like USA and UK can play a decisive role as highlighted by financial support and publicising abroad the suppression of democracy by Pakistan Army, reflected in my writings of 2007-08 and thereafter.