It’s the age of social media trends with the so-called media influencers in ever so great demand to manufacture social media trends meant to sway the unsuspecting public. Since the human brain has not properly absorbed this phenomenon yet – which only started less than a decade ago – those in the business of creating trends shamefacedly do so. They are confident that their activity will make lasting impressions, at least in the short term. This equally moronic approach to convince a ‘moron in a hurry’ seems to pay dividends since all the information/disinformation is often deliberately and carefully packaged as something innocuous usually without context and ultimately designed to encourage and strengthen somewhat ‘unhinged’ behaviour always handy to be pressed into service at the opportune moment.
Two recent examples are worthy of a mention: Donald Trump’s supporters genuinely believing in bringing a ‘revolution’ while mounting a raid on Capitol Hill and the British public successfully being duped into believing Brexit would usher in real prosperity.
Roughly translated, a recent Twitter trend back home said something along the lines of ‘bring presidential form of government, ensure prosperity’. Quite interestingly, as a precursor, we were treated with long-winded and rambling opinion pieces on little known websites conveniently extolling the virtues of a presidential form of government while showing a barely concealed contempt for the 1973 Constitution and the parliamentary form of government.
With the present parliament well into its penultimate year, it portends confusion and turmoil occasioned by needless ‘debates’ on a number of ‘favourable’ news channels.
With news of the opposition plotting and planning the prime minister’s ouster in earnest, there is plenty of commotion on the political front. For example, erstwhile allies like the editor and influencer, Mohsin Baig attracting the ire of a desperate and flailing despot, so to speak. Come to think of it, although remorse shown right at the end of a fiasco of a PTI administration may be forgiven as atonement for past ‘sins’, yet serious questions still remain unanswered on the wisdom and judgment of those who approved and then aided and abetted in making the ‘project Imran’ a living reality.
With news of the opposition plotting and planning the prime minister’s ouster in earnest, there is plenty of commotion on the political front.
It is the freedom to question the very basis of this experiment that is being crushed with pre-modern brutality that should be a cause for concern for the owners and spiritual fathers of the project, may be not due to the deterioration and the visible rot that has rapidly metastasized but at least for the prospect of their gravy train being in danger of halting and overturning forever.
A considerably weakened economy with an equally frighteningly steep and alarming devaluation of the rupee tells us a depressing story which has created despondency and panic among the business leaders who privately lament Pakistan’s literal bankruptcy. And yet nobody knows what exact measures may be taken to plan and execute an effective course correction. The remedy may lie in political measures to be taken rather than tweaking and fiddling with financial figures and estimates in the faux Keynesian model for public consumption which the financial managers of the PTI government are wont to do.
The irony of ironies may be that it is the atmosphere of undeclared censorship effectively blocking the incidence of openly broaching any subject and then saying the right thing which may be the biggest impediment in conducting a national dialogue: roughly, a Pakistani version of a truth and reconciliation commission. It is a separate debate whether such a commission which may have close resemblance with the South African model can be culturally compatible with our political system or not but in principle the situation demands that we let bygones be bygones and start afresh and stop being slaves of our egos. This applies to all the political stakeholders of our society, elected and non-elected. It is time to allow space to all the claimants to power and privilege, time for accommodation as opposed to palace intrigues leading to elimination of one protagonist in a fierce game of thrones which is happening right before our eyes.
The buck stops with the military establishment as it has been the most powerful mover and shaker in our national politics and, ineluctably, the most unaccountable. An act of stepping back from the position of omnipotence coupled with a national dialogue for the way forward encompassing permanent inclusion of dissenting and sane voices in the national discourse can serve as the first baby step towards stability. Otherwise the mantle of ‘the only Muslim nuclear power’ may become too heavy an apparel to wear and strut about confidently on the world stage. Only credible, seasoned and, above all, a properly and validly elected political leadership can address the grievances of those elements that are at war with the state. The biggest and, perhaps, the only grievance that the Baloch and the Pashtun have been carrying for years has been for their rights under the constitution. An iron hand and the current military solution are not only counterproductive but same are sure to alienate them further and is definitely not the way forward.
A clear statement to that effect must come from the miltablishment before, during and after the imminent no-confidence move. The supercilious, out of touch and elitist mindset must swear allegiance to the 1973 constitution which recognizes separate identities of all four provinces of the federation, amongst other things, without which the euphoric atmosphere of yet another regime change will pass without a meaningful course correction. Christopher Hitchens once famously quoted an antique saying: a man’s life is incomplete unless and until he has tasted love, poverty and war. History tells us that Pakistanis may have tasted poverty and war in large measures due mainly to the self-centredness of dictators like Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf for their strong instinct of self-perpetuation. With national economy perilously close to bankruptcy, such palace intrigues with the aim of maintaining the decadent status quo is something Pakistan can ill afford. The four federating units are demanding love and compassion from the state so that old wounds are healed and poverty and the specter of civil war-like situation may be avoided.