Pakistan with each passing day assumes incendiary proportions leading to its most active protagonists to concede that Pakistan is virtually on the verge of state disintegration. The assassination of the liberalist Pakistan Punjab Governor, liberalist by Pakistani relative standards, and the widespread public support extended to his assassin despite his heinous act, strongly indicates the depths to which Pakistan as a whole has descended into the abysmal depths of intolerance and fundamentalism. Added to this is the daily dose of sectarian killings extending from Peshawar to Karachi, reports of which stand splashed in the Pakistani media without a break. Pakistan’s nascent democracy stands endangered under the onslaughts of religious fundamentalists with the Pakistan Army in active collusion with these religious fundamentalists which the Pakistan Army has nurtured and been unleashing on its two neighbors, namely, India and Afghanistan over the years.
The Pakistan Army can retrieve the situation, but it will not, for a simple reason that the more unsettled Pakistan becomes the more would be the clamor from even the civil society in Pakistan that the Pakistan Army should step-in and assume the governance of the Pakistan. This has been a repetitive sequence in the history of Pakistan.
The Pakistan Army would then militarily intervene while playing the familiar card as earlier military dictators have done that the Pakistan Army is reluctantly stepping-in only to restore stability and would disengage soon after. Yet as the last two military dictators of Pakistan have displayed that they continued to rule for nearly a decade each.
Periodically repeated in this Column is the stark reality that Pakistan cannot be saved from its incendiary end not by external forces but by the Pakistani people themselves who have become mute spectators to Pakistan’s impending disintegration.
The ordinary Pakistani public and particularly significant sections of Pakistan’s civil society like the legal fraternity, the students, democracy activists and importantly the women of Pakistan, have displayed on two separate occasions in the last three or four years that once they mobilize themselves they can change things in Pakistan. The first occasion was in 2007 when they struggled for restoration of democracy in Pakistan and brought about the end of the military regime of General Musharraf and the second time when President Zardari was dilly-dallying on the restoration in office of the Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice Chaudhary whom General Musharraf had illegally dismissed under fears that he would be unseated in a legal ruling by the Chief Justice.
If Pakistan has to be saved from a dismal end then there is a greater call today, more than ever, that the silent majority in Pakistan once again rises up and takes the struggle on the streets with two major end-aims. The first is to liberate Pakistan from the clutches of the religious fundamentalists and the violence that such fundamentalists spawn and liquidate them from the Pakistani political firmament. The second major end-game objective of the silent majority of Pakistan should be that it should prevail with their combined power to make it clear to the Pakistan Army Generals that they can no longer let the Pakistan Army decide about the future of Pakistan. The Pakistan Army has held back Pakistan from its rightful destiny.
Such a struggle would involve great sacrifices due to brutal suppression both by the religious fundamentalists and the Pakistan Army. But Pakistan’s silent majority has to ponder the big question as to when was democracy and civil rights were won by silence and apathy?