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Friday, January 27, 2023
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Why Pakistan’s current situation takes us back to the past?

The current socio-economic-political crisis in Pakistan is characterized by a situation where the people are fighting for their survival against a consortium of mafias and political blackmailers. There are fully fledged foreign-sponsored insurgencies in almost all the provinces, the enemy on the borders, palace intrigues, prostitutes ruling the roost, and a resurgence of Covid-19

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In American slang, a “lemon” is a car that causes more trouble than it is worth”, as in “I bought a car from that dealership, but it turned out to be a lemon.” Dale Carnegie wrote about once having visited a farmer in Florida who turned even a poison lemon into lemonade. When he first visited the farm he had recently purchased in Florida, the farmer was depressed to find that the land could neither grow crops nor raise livestock. Nothing thrived there but scrub oaks, cactuses, and rattlesnakes. Despite the initial shock, he decided to turn his liability into an asset – he would make the best of those rattlesnakes. To everyone’s surprise, he started canning rattlesnake meat.

Some years later, when Carnegie stopped to visit the rattlesnake-infested farm, he found that tourists were streaming in to see the farm at the rate of twenty thousand a year. The farm was thriving – poison from the fangs of the rattlers was being shipped to laboratories to make anti-venom toxins. Rattlesnake skins were being sold at high prices to make women’s shoes and handbags. And canned rattlesnake meat was being exported to customers the world over. Carnegie bought a picture postcard and mailed it to the local post office of the village, which had been renamed “Rattlesnake, Florida” in honor of a man who had turned his liability into an asset.

Read more: How India killed SAARC?

Understanding the matter better

Presently, the Pakistani nation is in the same situation like the one that the Florida farmer confronted almost a century ago. After decades of musical chairs between weak political governments and military rule, Pakistan had a soft coup in April 2022 where, perhaps for the first time, the Deep State and the political movers and shakers joined hands in de-seating a government that had steered the country through a huge backlog of financial mismanagement and corruption, and a once-in-a-century pandemic. In the post-regime-change era, the masses are thoroughly demoralized by runaway inflation and deep resentment against the politicians who they feel are nothing more than the garbage that should be thrown into the dustbin of history. Is there a way out?

We are not living in the past where foreign-sponsored civil agitations always ended in long spells of martial laws. The praetorian rule, in turn, ultimately gave way to fresh waves of civilian agitation which again resulted in martial law. In the first quarter of the 21st Century, the masses refuse to succumb to boiler-plate upheavals reminiscent of the toppling of popular leaders like Iran’s Mossadegh. Unlike the passive reaction to the past regime changes, this time it is going to be a long-drawn-out struggle.

Read more: Why Pakistan’s situation is reflection of decline of the Mughal power?

The present situation in Pakistan is much like the emergency rule slapped on India by Indira Gandhi in 1975. Whereas Indira Gandhi had completely bypassed the parliament, there is a truncated parliament in Pakistan where the majority party decided to resign in protest after what it alleged was a foreign-sponsored regime change. Behind the façade of democracy, the installed regime is busy imprisoning its political opponents and the press is throttled. The major problem that this regime has so far failed to address is the looming economic meltdown.

In the past, though the political agitations had ended in martial law, they had also generated the rise of centrifugal forces. The agitation against Ayub Khan spawned Mujib Ur Rahman’s six points that eventually led to the nine-month-long civil war in the wake of the 1970 general elections.

The War resulted in Pakistan’s dismemberment and the emergence of Bangladesh

The current socio-economic-political crisis in Pakistan is characterized by a situation where the people are fighting for their survival against a consortium of mafias and political blackmailers. There are fully fledged foreign-sponsored insurgencies in almost all the provinces, the enemy on the borders, palace intrigues, prostitutes ruling the roost, and a resurgence of Covid -19. While all this is happening, a scattered and disorganized group is desperately fighting a rearguard action against the forces of disorder.

Read more: The political hypocrisy in Pakistan

Bangladesh- Pakistan’s estranged eastern wing, separated itself from us in 1971. Since gaining independence, Bangladesh has undergone more political upheavals than were confronted by Pakistan. Perhaps it was the only country in recorded history whose army murdered its Father of the Nation, along with all his family members, except one daughter who was then, along with her husband, living in India.

After Sheikh Mujib’s assassination, there were two military coups in Bangladesh.  General Zia Ur Rahman, who became president after Mujib’s assassination, was himself assassinated in 1981. General Hussain Muhammad Ershad, who led a coup against the civilian President Abdus Sattar, stepped down in 1977 under pressure as the caretaker government started a series of prosecutions and arrests on corruption and criminal charges against political leaders of Awami League and BNP including Sheikh Hasina, Khaleda Zia and Zia’s son Tareq Rahman, among others.

Besides the political instability, Bangladesh faced a shortage of space and a loss of revenues from jute exports. Instead of sulking, the Bengalis switched over to producing readymade garments. Bangladesh does not produce cotton but earns more from its readymade garment exports than India and Pakistan.

Read more: A smart agitation in Pakistan

After weathering all such crises, present-day Bangladesh is a promising nation, with a vibrant economy and forex reserves equal to USD 50 billion. Coming back to “Turning the lemon into a lemonade”, Pakistan has to find ways to transform its rotten socio-political culture, and its compromise-based political system, into something productive. We have to pass through the valley of darkness before finally reaching the sunlit mountain top.

Saleem Akhtar Malik is a Pakistan Army veteran who writes on national and international affairs, defense, military history, and military technology. He Tweets at @saleemakhtar53. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.