Articles of the year 2007

Published on October 20th, 2007

To watch the arrival of Benazir Bhutto in Karachi, being welcomed by millions of her supporters, was heady stuff indeed for citizens of Pakistanis, Jiyalas and otherwise. While her huge crowd wends its way through Karachi, one can only wonder at the Establishment, and the manner in which it has manipulated the system, in order to keep itself in a position to dictate its terms upon the leadership and hence their followers. It is the establishment that encouraged the corruption, most times, showing the way, and then blowing the whistle at a time of their choosing! As in any country, it is impossible to manipulate large funds without the connivance of the establishment, and the process through the courts is made easier when the judges are told that the Government is in a non-pursuit mode.

The cases against Benazir have not been brought to a conclusion, leaving a doubt in everyone's mind as to the truth behind the allegations, for the charge will remain an allegation till it has been proved in a court of law. In both instances, Nawaz and Benazir, the establishment stands guilty of manipulation of the Law, for its own ends—and that is the continued subservience of the people, by keeping the oppositions under constant threat. The NRO is a classic case, with Benazir kept in Limbo till it is decided which way she is to jump. She has decided not to wait, but to chance her luck. Her Thursday reception may not have made the cases irrelevant, but will give her a moral high ground saying she has been exonerated in the highest court—that of the people. Indeed it will take a very strong direction to push through a conviction under the circumstances, and making it stick.

It is the Establishment that has time and again taken this country into turmoil, blaming in turn the politicians, and then the Generals. Each time the establishment has drawn its strength from this 'blame game.' While it is the Establishment that is guilty all along, and carries merrily on with no reprisals on itself ever. Never did the two Prime Ministers look into the causes or for the culprits. This has given the Establishment more confidence in their ability to function without fear of retribution. In every Martial regime the establishment functions openly without being questioned by pesky politicians, and no Government functionary has ever been charged for any criminal breaches.

It is now upto the President to bring about a true reconciliation, but he must have a closer look at the way the establishment has manipulated the various actors, (including his person) so that this nonsense is stopped once and for all. For the instability that is brought about by such games damages the country and the institutions, and it allows the 'agencies' to exercise greater control, in areas which should be beyond their reach. This also gives greater vulnerability to inputs from foreign forces, which obviously will operate to their own agenda, and not necessarily with Pakistan's best interest at heart. The Establishment itself is guilty of gross manipulation, and now in the NRO have played a card they consider a winner. However it will always be consider a whitewash, and will come back to haunt her again and again. This will give her opponents ammunition to tarnish her image, especially in an election year. She would be better off dismissing the NRO, and offer to battle her cases through the courts in a specific time. Relief under the NRO will never genuinely 'be seen' to be legitimate, and like many things in Pakistan will be 'seen' to be have been fixed.All the political parties should join to ensure that the involvement of the Establishment be brought to an end.

Last night's carnage has brought into focus the fact that there is an organization that is determined to undermine the writ of the State, and to polarize the multi-factions in our society, and will spread this terror deep into our midst. Today no gathering is safe, so, participate in any rally political or religious is now fraught with terror. The Suicide handlers have shown themselves to be beyond party affiliations, or religious beliefs. It will indeed be a Herculean task to bring Pakistan back into the 'safe mode' of bygone days, where even children could attend rallies without fear. Now even the diehard followers may wind up just that.