Weak Governance, Misdirected Priorities
This Pakistan government’s lack of direction and inconsistency has weakened democracy that was already very fragile.
The political leadership’s ideological orientation, commitment to democracy and the broad policies that it pursues determine the direction, and future stability of the state. This is particularly relevant for Pakistan, that was created as the homeland for Muslims of India in 1947. With the exception of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, successive leaders have failed to live up to the ideals of the founding fathers and have been unable to steer the country in the right direction. Expectations from Imran Khan were high but, regrettably, his weak governance and extremely harsh and intolerant attitude toward his political opponents, in sharp contrast to his soft and accommodative dealings with politico-militant religious groups, is leading the country towards instability. It gives an impression of obsequiousness. A recent example is when the Minister of Information categorically stated that the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) would be banned, but soon the government retracted. This lack of direction and inconsistency has weakened democracy that was already very fragile. The military leadership too in the past has been using the TLP for building pressure on political parties and even the judiciary. A protest movement was staged against Justice Qazi Isa for his judgement in which he censored the TLP leadership that had the tacit support of the establishment. This was evident from the friendly way the group was given a send-off when they decided to call off the sit-in.
The TLP’s highly aggressive stance towards the state, and PM Khan taking a lenient view of their defiance with the establishment reconciling to it, has further emboldened them. The PM, by placing the blame on the previous government for not honouring its commitment with the TLP, has exonerated the group of any misconduct and shifted the entire burden for the present confrontation on the government policies of the past. Most surprising, PM Khan, in sharp contrast to his policy toward militant groups, has been consistently intolerant and offensive against his political opponents. He refuses to engage with them and goes to the extent of not even acknowledging their presence in the National Assembly and Senate. This obviously has consequences for a country that has a fragile democratic structure.
The writer is a retired lieutenant general of the Pakistan Army and a former federal secretary. He has also served as chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board.