Hopes Arise That Pakistan’s Politics Might Become Normal

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After a two-week drama it appears that Pakistani politics may soon revert back to some form of normality, if only in the sense of having a Prime Minister who will focus on fixing problems, rather than blaming the rest of the world or his opponents for everything.

As columnist and analyst Mohammad Taqi recently wrote, “Imran Khan’s stint in power requires a detailed postmortem but suffice it to say that he presided over an economic catastrophe and a governance nightmare in Pakistan. In his era, the dismal economic growth put Pakistan consistently trailed South Asian peers India and Bangladesh on economic growth and human development indicators for years on end. A free-falling rupee, evaporating forex reserves, and double-digit inflation brought untold misery to millions of poor in the country.”

However, “even worse than that was the vitriol and divisiveness that he introduced in the body politic. Political victimisation and witch hunts in the name of accountability were order of the day. He took a sadistic pleasure in smearing political opponents with patently false allegations and encouraged his partisans to use the most odious language against the rivals. And he did so with the army’s full backing up until he insisted on retaining his partner-in-crime, General Faiz Hameed Chaudhry as the Director General of the Inter-services Intelligence (DG ISI) last October.”

Taqi focuses his column on advice aimed at the military establishment: “the most important lesson for his former patrons in the army: experiments in political engineering are just that – experiments. And when they go awry, they can boomerang on the hand that designed them, as well as wreak havoc in the society. But this could also be an opportunity for the army brass to have an institutional rethink about its constant and callous political machinations that have always ended up in disasters. The brass must internalise the fact that everyone who differs with their worldview is not a traitor. Those who warned the generals against undertaking projects like Imran Khan mean equally well for the country and were actually right.”

Further as Taqi emphasizes “From Sindhi, Muhajir, Baloch, Pashtun and Shia missing persons, to media persons and bloggers targeted under draconian laws, to political dissenters at home and in forced exile, all deserve a compassionate, reconciliatory outreach to restore their constitutionally-guaranteed rights and freedoms. Achieving civilian supremacy is a process, not an event. And while good administration, booming economy and development certainly strengthen a civilian dispensation, ensuring the constitutional rights of all people, everywhere in the federation, is what truly empowers it.”

In conclusion, Taqi states, “Pakistan, when someone is coerced by the army to change their views, it is said that the person’s ‘software has been updated’. This may be the time for brass to ponder if their own software needs a reset.”

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Author: Syed Bokhari