Fault Within

The high-handedness in dealing with the people and complete disregard for the law and Constitution is further suffocating the Pakistani society.

By Syed Hasan Raza Jafri | August 2023

Since the removal of Imran Khan from the Prime Minister’s office through a no-confidence vote in April 2022, events have unfolded in Pakistan, bursting the social fabric of the society at its seams and have shaken the country’s very foundation. What started as a political crisis has now ballooned to include an economic, constitutional, and even moral crisis. There are three different forces at play, each projecting its version of Pakistan. The status quo is represented by those who call themselves “Purana Pakistan” (Old Pakistan) and “Hamara Pakistan” (Our Pakistan). They are being challenged and pushed back by those who aspire for a “Naya Pakistan” (New Pakistan) by acquiring what they call “Haqqiqi Azadi” (True Freedom).

“Purana Pakistan” is represented by an alliance of dynastic political parties known as the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), which came to power through the no-confidence motion in April 2022. These political parties have ruled Pakistan for decades, have no particular outstanding governance record, are known to be deeply corrupt, enjoy regional support only, and are generally unpopular. They want to perpetuate their hold on power by all means necessary, even if it includes using state machinery to crush their opponents.

“Hamara Pakistan” is represented by the powerful establishment which has ruled Pakistan directly or indirectly through most of its history; it is a unifying force that keeps the country together and has deep influence and control over every sector of the society. Military, through most of our history, has generally been popular and well-liked by Pakistanis, and the people have often welcomed the military takeover of the government. Pakistan has one of the world’s finest militaries and a robust command and control infrastructure. The military sees itself as the necessary binding force which keeps the country together and protects the country from external enemies but is unwilling to yield too much power to any civilian leadership.

“Naya Pakistan” is represented by the vast majority of the Pakistani population. They envision a prosperous, economically and politically strong Pakistan, where there is the supremacy of the rule of law and independence both from foreign interference and excessive meddling in politics by the military. This vision and narrative is promoted in the speeches of the PTI chairman. In my opinion, he represents the aspirations and desires of the vast majority of Pakistanis living within Pakistan and almost all Pakistanis living outside Pakistan.

The Pakistani population is made up of mostly young people, and two-thirds are less than 30 years of age. They have exposure to Western societies through social media and through relatives who live outside Pakistan. They have also seen the economic and political progress of neighboring India as well as the former East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh, who have outpaced Pakistan both economically as well as in the human development index. The consciousness of the vast majority of the people of Pakistan living at home or abroad has evolved, and they are no longer willing to accept the narrative of “Purana Pakistan” or “Hamara Pakistan.”

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