Pakistan has been called a crisis state for decades, some have called it a failing state and others a fragile one. What is true is that it has a fractured elite and political system which has ensured that small factions of elite elements block democratic institutionalization. States with fractured elites may not necessarily disintegrate, but their social and economic indicators remain weak.
In a recent column, Muhammad Amir Rana argues that “in the ongoing political crisis, Pakistan’s power elites have squandered the little space that was left for reconciliation. Another cruel phase of political engineering is in the offing. Apparently, the establishment seems fully intent on cutting those challenging its supremacy down to size. The establishment is trying its utmost to resist. Irrespective of who ‘wins’ this war of attrition, the country and its people will be the ultimate losers.”
As Rana notes, “one can understand the frustration of the establishment that the challenger is none other than their former blue-eyed prime minister who is trying to disrupt the order they want to establish.”
Nations, Rana states, “derive their strength from internal cohesion. Fractured power elites cannot create cohesiveness among their ranks or in society. They derive power from divisions and the powerful among them craft a power-sharing mechanism that always favors their own interests. Negotiation or dialogue is a tool for effectively distributing power, but the powerful do not want to sacrifice their strength. The establishment and Imran Khan both believe they are powerful.”
Rana concludes by stating, “it is ironic that political parties do not learn a lesson from the fallout of political engineering of other parties. A vicious cycle is weakening society and its cultural ethos. Each political actor, including the establishment, capitalizes on its interest, without realizing that the state and its institutions are deteriorating and losing confidence that is essential for cohesion.”