The 9th of May 2023 became yet another infamous and tragic day in the life of the nation. Fanatic followers of the cult of Imran Khan launched a vicious attack on military installations and started the final battle between the powerful military establishment and the PTI. This is the turning point: the gloves are now off and no holds are barred. The former Prime Minister has openly rebuked and blamed the army chief for everything wrong in the country. The establishment was quick to respond with the arrest of thousands of PTI leaders and supporters, with the threat of facing trials under the Army Act increasing the fearful prospects of military rule once again. Imran Khan and the military establishment are now at daggers drawn, while the government of the PDM has locked horns with the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Atta Bandial, demanding his resignation immediately.’
The Chief Justice ordered the government to release Imran Khan, produce him in court and desist from any further action against him. The welcome remark of the CJP “Very pleased to see you” was severely criticised and trolled widely on the social media and the electronic media in Pakistan and abroad as a clear sign of a partisan attitude. Thousands of supporters of the ruling coalition gathered in front of the Supreme Court and demonstrated their street power by demanding the immediate resignation of the CJP. A joint session of Parliament passed a resolution demanding the removal of the Chief Justice. The political picture now is getting murkier by the day. With the battle lines drawn, the outcome could be dangerous and extremely damaging for the country. As of today, the result is anybody’s guess and political pundits cannot predict the outcome.
Democracy has been defined as a government of the people, for the people and by the people. It is a system based on majority rule and centered on values like liberty, equality and peaceful conflict resolution. The breakdown of core values and the use of religion in politics gives rise to fascism and political cults and that is what is happening in Pakistan today. In recent history we have seen the rise of fascism and cult worship in Germany and Italy in the period between the First World War and the Second World War. Germany was engulfed by the dictatorial regime of the Nazi Party led by the iconic demagogue Adolf Hitler and Italy saw the rise of Benito Mussolini of the fascist party. Both cult leaders in Germany and Italy attracted a huge following and reached dizzying heights of popularity but eventually both of them brought ruin and destruction on their countries. Both Hitler and Mussolini had zero tolerance for dissent or criticism. Both of them established a police state and made use of violence and terror to silence all voices of opposition. Both countries became single party states and the people were made victims of terror and one sided propaganda and any opposition to the fascist regime ruthlessly crushed. Adolf Hitler started his political struggle in 1920 and after a few failed attempts to gain power finally managed to become chancellor of Germany in 1933 by the process of elections. Once in control of the Government he suspended the constitution, banned all political parties and became the dictator of Germany and ruled by decrees.
The foundations of fascism in Pakistan were laid during the dictatorial rule of General Zia-ul-Haq. He is guilty of introducing such ideas during his rule in the name of Islamisation of society. He committed the cardinal sin of using religion for the promotion of his political agenda – and did so relentlessly from 1977 to 1988. He overturned national cultural values and destroyed all democratic institutions. Pakistan entered the so-called Jihad in aid of the USA in Afghanistan and again religion was used to motivate train and use young Pakistanis as cannon fodder in the war in Afghanistan. The result of this policy brought some benefits for the regime of Zia-ul-Haq but proved disastrous for the country in the long run.
Pakistan became the epicenter of religious terrorism and a country awash with drugs and firearms. Love of Jihad was touted as the sacred duty of every citizen. An Islamic society and the establishment of a system based on the Sharia was seen as the aim of all true Muslims in Pakistan. Political rivals were dubbed as corrupt, wicked and un-Islamic and all those not very religious were seen as totally unfit to have anything to do with the running of the country. All those who had secular views or believed in moral values based on human traits were classified as evil and against Islam. Non-Muslims were victimised. Private armies or lashkars were formed to implement Islamic values and intimidate non-Muslims. The craze for Islamisation and the war in Afghanistan gave rise to many fascist militant and extremist religious groups such as the TTP and TLP, who are opposed to all forms of democracy and their declared aim is to establish a theocratic state based on the rule of Islamic Sharia. These types of organisations show zero tolerance for the opposition, brand their opponents as heretics or traitors, eschew conflict resolution through a dialogue, seek to subordinate the institutions to their whims and agree to play ball with them only on their terms, and claim on being a noble mission to rid society of all evil (which is to say: overhaul the national culture).
Zia was responsible for introducing fascism into the body politic. And the 2014 dharna of Imran Khan in Islamabad, backed by the powerful establishment, allowed a political party to capitalise on religious extremism for political gains. That dharna did not bring the government down but convinced the PTI that they can achieve victory with the help and support of the religious fanatics.
Ayub was responsible for destruction of old Pakistan. Since 1971 we had an opportunity to learn from our failures. Instead Zia, Musharraf and Bajwa and many others of their kind got us here.
We are at the verge of losing new Pakistan so get together in one room and confess your mistakes and decide whether you want to rebuild or let go of it.
“Democracy has been defined as a government of the people, for the people and by the people. It is a system based on majority rule and centered on values like liberty, equality and peaceful conflict resolution. ” I will add with the protection of individual rights.
The article correctly exposes the rise of islamic Fascism but ignores the students trained in the 35,000 madrassas over the last 40 years. These students don’t accept the idea of equality under the law, innocent until proven guilty, rights of women, freedom of speech, non-Muslim citizens – in other words the foundations of democracy. No matter the outcome of the current battle, regrettably the madrassa students will prevail.