As Pakistan approaches the new election season, with the announcement that elections may be held in end of January 2024, there is a likelihood that the establishment will once again sow doubts about the traditional political parties and their leaders to ensure an electoral result of their making.
In a recent column Khurram Hussain warned that in coming days a narrative will emerge and will appeal to the lay public. “This narrative will say that we are in our present mess because we deviated from divine commandments and entered into interest-bearing relations with our creditors.”
Hussain noted that this new narrative “will point out that last fiscal year, the federal government paid three quarters of its total tax collected as interest payments. It will ask the people ‘did these rulers ask you before taking these loans?’ And when they answer in the negative, it will say ‘then why are they asking you to shoulder this burden by depriving your children of yet another meal?’”
Hussain argued, “It will be very hard to build the argument that people ought to bear more sacrifices just so that the government’s covenant with its creditors can be upheld. What about the rulers’ covenant with the citizenry as contained in the Constitution? If that is so easy to discard and little more than a “piece of paper” in the famous words of Gen Musharraf, why is the covenant with the creditors so important that millions must be pushed into poverty so it can be upheld? These questions can gain traction under the conditions created by the conundrum, and there will be no convincing answer.”
In conclusion, Hussain warns, “It is critical that right thinking is applied in the search for the country’s path to the future. Trust is the most vital pillar upon which power stands, and if remaining in power means cannibalising trust, then legitimacy is eroded. And there are few things that prove more costly than the damage left behind by illegitimate rulers.”