Forget Governance: Pakistan’s civilian politicians know nothing about security and sovereignty

But still, they are what the people of Pakistan voted for… well, 56% of them anyway – the rest were bogus votes.

Hurray for the parliament! Hurray for Pakistan’s democracy! The Army has finally been cowed down! The ISI has its tail between its legs, and its DG has surrendered! Hurray for Pakistan! Oh wait… Does anyone realize that the ISI is a Pakistani institution, not an enemy of the state? Is the Pakistan Army also filled with American and British recruits who intend to colonize Pakistan? No. Both the Army and ISI are made up of Pakistani citizens – soldiers, patriots and servants of the nation. So Hurray! They have been defeated! So then why do we cry about our credibility, integrity and sovereignty when we ourselves debilitate the prime mechanism of defense that our nation has? For just one mistake? Of course, one mistake is one too many; Pakistan’s politicians are free from mistakes and sins. Look at their shining record over the last three years alone!

First things first: unbeknownst to many, the in-Camera Joint Session of Parliament was technically illegal, because neither the Speaker of the National Assembly nor the Chairman Senate were present. The Speaker of the National Assembly was in the US on a “personal visit” at the time, while the Senate Chairman was performing duties as Acting President of Pakistan – President Zardari was on a trip to Russia. So, “technically”, the joint session of Parliament could’ve just been some smoked-out junkies debating Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity like in any other liberal, well-to-do elitist drawing room. Except this time, the security establishment (which means services chiefs and relevant operational commanders) were present and briefing the parliamentarians. And they didn’t leave too happy either; its not about being admonished or berated by foolish politicians, its about the realization that those in control of the country don’t know what they’re doing, and have no idea what do to at all.

Then comes the beloved ‘free media’ which claims to inform the public and form their opinions, which claims to protecting public interest and reporting on crimes and daily injustices, but really can’t get their reporting straight. Yellow journalism is rife in Pakistan – perhaps it is the norm – and credible reporting in Pakistan must be verified from external (i.e. non-Pakistani) sources to actually be credible. In this light, the DG ISI was rumoured to be on a visit to the US, which was immediately refuted by the ISPR – threats and concerns can be conveyed on the phone too. But why would the media give up a chance at kicking the ISI when it is already down? Go ahead Pakistani media, have your day.

So the Army and the ISI are really worthless. Lets just take away their defence budget, and depute them on – I don’t know – cleaning up the streets or draining the sewage system or making roads or anything other than national security. Our civilian leaders can protect us and our country – yes they can, even when they can’t protect themselves (and – guess what?! – they need the Army SSG to protect them!).

The track record of these two-faced civilian leaders is accessible to all and sundry: Pakistan has no electricity to produce or generate or transmit to its consumers; load shedding in urban areas has severely debilitated economic and social life, while electricity is non-existent in rural areas. Buy electricity from China? Iran? Even India? No, we can’t; we want to, but the political process means taking all stakeholders on board – it actually means the projects will not be initiated and the people will not get relief unless foreigners pay the right amount of bribes and commissions to the ministers. The RPP scandal is a case in point.

Pakistan’s Army and ISI is so bad, that because we are a national security state, we have no health and no education. Yes yes, we had a defence budget, which overshadowed the health and education budget (despite the fact that even with the measly investment in health and education, Pakistan’s doctors and teachers flee abroad because of decrepit conditions and lack of facilitation in the country) but what about waived-off loans, corrupt expenditures, and sale of prime govt property to close friends? Did that not damage the health and education budget? No, of course not. It was only the defence budget. Lets even forget about debt repayments. It was only the Army because of which Pakistan is unhealthy and uneducated. Even blame the YDA protests on the Army and ISI – Shahbaz Sharif would absolutely love that.

Under civilian government, the people of Pakistan have no rights. Oh, they do? Did Moghees and Munib have rights when they were being bludgeoned to death in plain sight in Sialkot? Do people who engage in  self-immolations because of woeful living conditions have rights? Do people dying in ambulances and hospitals during protocol movements have rights? Or not?

Pakistan currently has no rule of law: it does have a corrupt leadership that is embroiled in scams and scandals whether it is the treasury benched or opposition benches. Pakistani’s ‘rebelled’ against Musharraf and even Zardari and Gilani to have Iftikhar Chaudhry restored as Chief Justice of Pakistan – but still, Pakistan has no rule of law because the CJ himself acknowlegdes corrupt judiciary in lower cadres like sessions judges and district courts. With the Mukhtaran Mai case, the Facebook case, the Raymond Davis case, the Shazia case, and so many more, it is more than evident that there are multiple tiers of justice prevailing in Pakistan – just like multiple tiers of health, education, social services, banking services, you name it. Pakistan is a divided society, and civilian rule under democracy only further divides its people.

The ‘shahadat’ or martyrdom of Benazir Bhutto happened so that PPP could ally itself with Qatil League (PML-Q). That is the only political deal that makes sense; the NRO stayed in place, but the primary signatories vanished, so that the interlocuters can have their way. This is why Pakistan seems more and more hapless in the face of international pressure – Pakistan has been sold to the US and its allies under the NRO, signed by a sold-out Benazir (who was automatically neutralized once she realized her mistake) and a Musharraf with waning popularity (who, like the commando that he is, chose to run away to London like Altaf bhai, rather than face detractors and terrorists in Pakistan). The PPP and PML-Q got in bed together so that they could pass the federal budget 2011-2012 – and there will be so many wonderful taxes and tariff adjustments in it, that the people of Pakistan will be absolutely delighted.

The murder of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, members of ruling party, is a slap in the face of civilian government’s so-called counter-terror strategy of dialogue, deterrence and development. People still shy from calling Taseer and Bhatti martyrs – not for Islam, but for Pakistan – because their killers have more sway in the public (thanks to Wahabbi funding and skewed media coverage) than the rational, logical segment of society. While the government claims to fight terrorism, it is itself in bed with terror groups and terror funders; religious extremists who openly claim that political leaders come to them for votes in their constituencies. This is how this 3D strategy – despite its funky acronym – actually plays out: Dialogue among stakeholders only to dupe them and waste time, deter any capable authority from acting timely and with due force, and develop your own personal assets and bank accounts at the detriment of a failing economy and troubled masses. Does that make more sense? Of course it does! Now you know why Shahbaz Sharif and the PML-N don’t want an operation in South Punjab – who would vote for them in 2013 then? Not like anyone would willingly vote for them again anyways – the Sharif biraderi is the mainstay of election rigging in Pakistan.

When it comes to terrorism, lawlessness and insecurity, even the federal capital Islamabad is not safe for Pakistan’s President and Prime Minister, who waste millions daily on their security protocol – after their three-year performance, the Pakistani people should vote on a referendum that asks whether Zardari and Gilani and the Sharif brothers’ lives are really worth that much – especially when they continue to make lives a living hell for the rest of Pakistan?

And then ask yourselves – is this what you voted for? Is this what you asked for? Because if they are responsible, so are you.

We are ALL responsible for Pakistan. Or nobody is.

By Inaam Chandio