Under exceptional circumstances, Pakistan’s top courts – the Supreme Court of Pakistan [SCP] and the Islamabad High Court [IHC] intervened to provide relief to former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Mr. Imran Khan on two successive days on May 11 and 12 respectively from arrests in multiple cases until May 15.

By Brig (retd) Rahul Bhonsle

While Mr Khan has got at least temporary relief there is no such recompense expected for the hapless people of Pakistan caught in a cleft stick between the Devil – a self-indulgent political class and the Khaki or the military.

In the past two years Pakistan’s “poly crisis,” has led to immeasurable hardship to the people at large. From being the breadbasket of the region the country today has seen food riots even during the holy month of Ramazan in April when people fought for a few bags of flour being distributed by charitable organizations. Meanwhile Pakistani rupee has crashed touching almost 300 per dollar record in itself, thus even the well-off maybe feeling the pinch.

As the nation is engaged in managing the political and economic crisis the depth to which the state has fallen is evident when even the de facto authorities in Kabul the Taliban – has offered advice on political stability to Pakistan. “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry, calls for tolerance and understanding among all parties involved, urging them to seek peaceful resolutions to their differences,” says the Taliban administration in Kabul. Indeed the shoe has shifted on the other foot.

While there can be some sympathy for people of the country, the nation armed with nuclear weapons has been brought to such a pass through complete failure and incompetence of the national leadership – the political class, the military and the judiciary.

Caught in the vicious circle of preserving their own turf these institutions over the years have been ruined by personal and family ambitions of wealth and aggrandizement, be it at any cost to the nation.

The present crisis is an outcome of sustained institutional failure over the past many decades and is unlikely to be resolved even by some miracle if the political leaders come together.

And then there is the military the Khaki – the colour of the uniform of the Pakistan Army which has learnt no lessons from the ignominy in Bangladesh in 1971 and continues to wield extraordinary power as a “deep state,” within the state of Pakistan.

Greed of the Political Class

The greed of the political class knows no bounds. The two main political families of the country the Sharifs and the Bhutto Zardaris have been in power at different times for several decades in the country.

The long tenures should have provided stability in governance but instead these families have amassed wealth spread across the globe. Nepotism and the family assume greater importance than the principles of democracy such as equity and service to the people. It is not surprising thus that three time Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz is presently in exile in London living in opulence in an apartment, his one amongst many as per a Daily Mail report. The Sharif estate Jati Umra in Lahore in the province of Punjab surpasses the wealth of the erstwhile maharajas.

The Bhutto Zardaris are another political capitalist enterprise. The doyen of the family a onetime president – Asif Ali Zardari was known as “Mr Ten Percent,” when his wife the late Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister as that was the cut that he demanded for every contract.

It is not surprising then that given the ostentatious display of wealth of the established political parties in the country, the relatively newbie entrant in Pakistan politics – Mr. Imran Khan a former cricket captain and a successful one at that jumped into the political fray and has created his own private fiefdomin Bani gala in Lahore.

Out of power he is facing multiple political corruption charges amongst one on which [Al-Qadir Trust case] he was arrested on May 09.

Mr. Imran Khan’s theme against his political opponents is corruption. He has named and shamed them as “chors,” [thieves] in public and vouched that he will never talk to them or negotiate.

Today like all political leaders and parties who have an upper hand when in opposition in Pakistan because of the strong anti incumbency factor due to poor governance, corruption and nepotism Mr. Imran Khan has become the darling of the Pakistani middle class.

Yet it is very evident from his performance for three years as the Prime Minister of the country, he’s completely incapable of governance. So, in a scenario where he returns to power in the future, a disaster awaits the country.

The Judiciary

The judiciary is an institution which is seen as independent and credible in a democracy. Not so in Pakistan. In the Imran Khan case heard by the Supreme Court on May 11th Chief Justice Mr Umar Ata Bandial heading the three-member bench said on seeing Mr. Khan brought before him from National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrest, “It is good seeing you.”

It is nobody’s case that the arrest of Mr. Khan was carried out properly, but violent protests launched by his supporters many of which on his personal calls over videos as well as leaders of his party were certainly high treason against the state.

Greeting a leader who has unleashed such violence respectably denotes how the judiciary is possibly compromised to populism.

The Khaki

Then we have the Khaki or the Pakistan army and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) jointly referred to as the Establishment – a state within the state.

Having the Establishment’s support is essential for any government in power in Islamabad. Even at the slightest sign of resistance the military has come down hard on those leaders who tried to defy it’s written or unwritten dictates.

Many suffered with their lives as the patriarch of the Bhutto’s former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did, others as Sharif are in exile.

The roots of the present crisis are also seen due to the hand of the military to first install Mr. Imran Khan as the Prime Minister allegedly rigging elections in 2018, and then having him deposed through a no confidence motion in the National Assembly in April last year.

The military supposed that Mr. Khan after some initial rumblings will accept his political fate. However, the former Prime Minister has proved to be a different kettle of fish and openly challenged the Khaki naming and shaming former Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and an officer of the ISI for a plot to assassinate him amongst others.

The PTI social media cell is also alleged to be behind a campaign maligning the Army.

This has been unheard of in the country so far where the military and its leadership has been revered over the years.

Collapse of Institutions

With a massive corrosion of the institutions if not collapse who do the people of Pakistan turn to at a time of such crisis. Between an inept political leadership unwilling to sacrifice personal gains for the sake of the nation, a judiciary which is divided and has its own biases and a military which has failed to see the writing on the wall that a people who are empowered are unlikely to fall for the dictate of the boot.

This article first appeared in www.vifindia.org and it belongs to them.