The Collapse of Pakistan Amidst the War on Terror and the Just Grounds for Revolutionary Thinking by Ahsan Qazi

The most fundamental need for the society to function is political, social and economic stability, but a nation does exist that is surviving merely on hope. Its people wake up every day with a thought that something might change somewhere and that change has enough force to divert the nation from total annihilation. Is Pakistan on the verge of a collapse or has it collapsed already, and we do not admit to this fact? If it has run its course, then what must be done? Many in the social and political sphere argue with intensity that Pakistan cannot fail as a state. Some argue with the spirit of patriotism and some argue by measuring the will of Pakistani population to achieve their goals despite very limited socio-economic opportunities. I propose that the nation is already at a destructive point.

The government has failed miserably, both in domestic and foreign policies. Its major failure in the twenty-first century has been for two main reasons: Its inability to deal with the war on terrorism argument when the argument was forced upon the government officials while the paranoia of undefined enemy spread through the world. The vagueness in the definition of terrorism and its genuine context was never given a serious thought until the 9/11 catastrophe. Each country had their own understanding of terrorism, and each country defined any violent elements as terrorism that jeopardized the country’s sovereignty, traditions and cultural values. Pakistani government officials were unprepared to deal with terrorism and terrorist-related problems that were piling upon one after another. Pakistan could not save itself from being one of the players that had to be tested. The country’s double-dealing with militant government in Afghanistan and its lazy eye on the terrorist training camps within Pakistan in addition to tribal activity in the Northern Waziristan placed Pakistan in a situation in which It had to face its demons. In a quick change of Western social and political atmosphere, a new and a complex political game began, turning Pakistan into a war zone with added pressure to prove loyalty to the foreign voices.

Suicide bombings and organized attacks on governmental, educational and religious institutions rapidly grew. Dr. Paul Gill who led The Remote Control Project with the Oxford Research Group points out in his report “The Impact of Drone Attacks on Terrorism: The Case of Pakistan” that 7,361 terrorist attacks killed 13,829 people in Pakistan, and additional 374 drone strikes were carried out, which killed 2,296 people from 2004-2013[1]. How many lives must end for Pakistan to realize the excruciating challenge it faces? The report further described a complex relationship between the drone attacks and the terrorist attacks, both targeting the civilians. This had a backlash. A country that supported the war on terrorism became a victim of terrorism itself. It is no surprise that Pakistan took on the label of being one of the most dangerous countries after Afghanistan and Iraq while bearing humiliation from the Indian government that seized the perfect opportunity to scorn its archenemy.

Problems for Pakistan did not stop there. Pakistani government officials disregarded the cultural and religious values while shunning the voice of the ordinary citizens. The public, on the other hand, had no choice but to go with the leadership of the “elected.” This is a recurring pattern, the behavior of the crowd that goes along with their leader’s choices because they are taken along. The multitude has not yet fully recognized where the correct power rests. The crowd has not yet understood its own potential. Henry David Thoreau rightly noted in his “Resistance to Civil Government” the correct source of power that governs a state and what that state should be like. He writes, “There will never be really free and enlightened State, until the State comes to recognize the individuals as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.”[2] A state that wishes to progress, that wishes to appear strong, and aware of its situation must acknowledge the citizens as a greater power than itself because the people are the core source that give government its power. A government is purposeless and impotent without it’s citizens. It is not my aim to name all the politicians and pinpoint the representatives who could have taken necessary actions but did otherwise to protect Pakistan’s best interests. Needless to blame any political party in Pakistan or any single individual, the native population is well aware that all are fully accountable for the ordeal of a country that is crippled. The state that is recognized to have so much potential bleeds.

The communication between the judiciary and the upper-government is completely shattered and the respect for laws that are supposed to keep civil order is absent. The judicial system finds itself helpless. Unable to manage the internal domestic unrest, the system has no set policies of dealing with the external factors. Regardless of the legal decisions it gives to the political system to maintain a check-and-balance system, the government-in-power disregards the court orders in two ways: Failure to appear on the court’s call is a common pattern, and overthrowing the court’s order by creating amendments that protect those who are held responsible for their full negligence.

This suggests that law has failed also. It does not exist much, and the portion that exists is sold to those who can afford to purchase it. This is a commonly known fact among the youth and the adults of Pakistan.  Every political and social conversation shows disappointment in the law. What held Pakistan together up this point? I am obliged to use Peter Kropotkin’s idea from his historical discussion on earlier revolutions and the argument for anarchism. He noted that in the absence of government, society contents its need of social organization through an open contact between individuals and the groups who aim for the similar goals. According to Kropotkin, mutual agreement replaces law in such times; this is also what has happened in Pakistan[3]. What binds people together is the consensus, which creates the atmosphere of little peace and security. The citizens have no faith in the law because law itself has admitted to its failure. News of police officers involved in the gang of convicts for their own personal survival storms the Pakistani media.

Corruption manifests itself all around. Individuals cannot pass a checkpoint freely without police having to stop the people and place a monetary demand, and people are now conditioned to find easy way out each time by offering a bribe at a given command. Airport officials who should enforce the law as it is also abuse their powers. An ordinary individual is challenged at every government institution. People’s faith in the governmental institutions has long gone. Each government body is involved in numerous corruption scandals. Those who do rest their confidence in the law have the law at their disposal. Anyone who has had interaction with the law cannot speak in its advocacy. How do we recognize true progress or a change in the government’s behavior? Thoreau answers this question in his “Resistance to the Civil Government.” He writes, “The progress from an absolute monarchy to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual.”[4] In a true democracy in Pakistan, the citizen must remain the utmost priority of any government body. Alas, people live with one simple idea. The mutual sense among the civil class is that “You do not harm me and I will not harm you.” People live their day-to-day with a hope to stay away from tensed public atmosphere, but tension in the society erupts in the name of change. Then, comes the call of misleading forces that gather the public in the name of change.

The country continues to struggle with reform and restoration rather than a genuine transformation. The political agenda stays the same as it did in the time of late Benazir Bhutto as analysis of few suggests[5]. Every political party screams that they will move Pakistan forward yet every political party rejects each other’s ideas of taking the country forward; hence, the political rhetoric of all political parties shifts away from the issues facing the country to a blame-game. This stalls the country’s progress. Kropotkin pointed out in one of his most famous work, “All politics are based on the same principle, each politician saying to the people he wants to support him: ‘Give me the governmental power; I will, I can, relieve you from the hardship of your present life.”[6] It is this realization that a nation like Pakistan must come to acknowledge, the awakening moment that these promises have been made in one form or another since the foundation of Pakistan was set yet little work has been done to really relieve Pakistan of it’s socio-political problems. As a nation, Pakistani countrymen are now conditioned to accept every promise of any political figure that makes the promise, which leads the masses to run to streets upon hearing the word “change.” Change does not happen with words and motivational speeches as majority of the Pakistani political parties habitually make. Change happens with responsibility of both the countrymen and it’s leaders who serve as the representatives for the public. What is the result of mass gathering? What is the result of mass mobilization of countrymen to come to streets and scream political slogans when everyone returns home at the end of the day and resumes their affairs in the same manner as they usually do?

Many argue that the country is now more awake than before. The youth are now active. The lively generation now realizes the importance of participating in the country’s political process. The men of intellect are ready at once to pull statistics from left and right to prove what their political leader has changed.  Have the Pakistani youth who are daily in streets looking to feed their families by any means not realized this yet when they return home with despair of no opportunity to better their lives? Has the present generation not realized this yet when they step out to look for jobs in their respected field of study? Have they not realized this yet when the country is out of electricity in any city at any given time? We must not mistake the fact that opportunities do not exist, but they exist very little with unjust and vague labor laws. They exist for those who are deemed too bright, too talented and those who can bribe their way. The ordinary man who knows how to work hard because that is what he has learned since his birth is always left behind because he cannot penetrate the status quo. The ones with little to no socio-economic or socio-political opportunities are marginalized. Again, it is the role of government that is crucial in its citizens’ lives and the Pakistani government-in-power has failed dreadfully to play a leading role. Kropotkin emphasizes, “All our education is permeated with the same teachings. We may open any book of sociology, history, law, or ethics: everywhere we find government, its organization, its deeds, playing so prominent a part that we grow accustomed to suppose that the State and the political men are everything; that there is nothing behind the big states-men.”[7] Although Kropotkin’s argument is in favor of an anarchist society, he makes an excellent point. He exactly shows how the citizens see the government body as everything that has to do with the individual’s well being.

People in desperation look to Sharifs, the Bhuttos, and now Imran Khan as a remedy to their socio-economic problems, but continue to ignore their own potential. The change is in the hands of every Pakistani who wishes to revolutionize his thinking with action; thereby, questioning the thinking and the ways of the statesmen who only promise. The loyalty to elite political figures runs deep among the ones who are the party workers or the supporters. The irrational love for the leaders serves as a mere barrier to actual progress. The real work is never done in favor of the ordinary man. It is time for irrational loyalty and irrational patriotism of Pakistanis to end. It is time to get to work with honesty, accountability, and realist attitude for Pakistani citizens to rebuild the country as every citizen imagines it. Time is now to throw out the old ideals, end the blame-game, and reconstruct the Pakistani parliament with men of caliber who only know action, men who do not charm the public with their false eloquence.

***Following sources were used to compose this article***

[1] Gill, Paul.  The Impact of Drone Attacks on Terrorism: The Case of Pakistan. London: The Remote Control Project, 2015.  Print.

[2] Levine, Robert S., Ed. “Resistance to Civil Disobedience.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: Norton & Company, 2007. 1872-1872.

[3] Kropotkin, Peter.  The Conquest of Bread.  Mineola, N.Y: Dover Publications Inc, 2011.  37.

[4] Levine, Robert S., Ed. “Resistance to Civil Disobedience.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: Norton & Company, 2007. 1872-1872.

[5] Cohen, Stephen P. “Pakistan: Arrival and Departure.” The Future of Pakistan. Washington, D.C: Brookings Institution Press, 2011. 7.

[6] Kropotkin, Peter. Anarchism: A Collection of Revolutionary Writings.  Mineola, New York:  Dover Publication, Inc, 2000.  63.

[7] Kropotkin, Peter. Anarchism: A Collection of Revolutionary Writings.  Mineola, New York:  Dover Publication, Inc, 2000.  64


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s