Recently the Parliamentary Committee on National Security decided to take Pakistan’s foreign policy to the floor of representatives and argue and debate relatively au courant terms of engagement with USA. While the opposition did sneer at the fact that these recommendations are not binding,non-state actors aka DPC,JI and Al- Zawahiri warned against re-opening NATO supply routes and announced that they won’t shirk from ‘spilling blood’ if the Parliament does give in to US pressure,the fact that for the first time national security and foreign policy was going to be debated and discussed instead of dictated was laudable,with millions of dollars riding on the big question of how far we are willing to go.
Yet the big question was relegated to the back burner at the fourth sitting of the joint session. While questions riddling the common man may not be big enough for our high handed politicians to address,recent developments in the country marked by an escalation of violence that doesn’t have Taliban written all over it is serious enough to have everything else take the back seat.
Karachi’s turf wars and ‘day of mourning’ turned into days of mourning for many families torn asunder in the ANP- MQM crossfire. Grievances festered to the point that henchmen came out to burn effigies of their bosses/representatives and demanded a ‘Swat like’ military operation in the pestilent localities of Lyari,Katti Pahari,North Nazimabad,Benaras,Shah Faisal,Korangi,Malir and Kasba which is in flames today. Rehman Malik splutters out condemnation and vows vengeance every time this happens,yet his faux crackdown did little than tweak whiskers the last time. They’re back,bigger,stronger and armed to their teeth,playing out the aftermath of post Soviet-Afghan war like it happened yesterday. The complicated politics of Karachi will not disentangle on its own like our government hopes it will. Even the top echelons are playing favorites in this cat eat mouse game. Maybe a stringent de-weaponisation crack down is what Karachi needs. Take the lion’s teeth away and it can only meow.
Sind’s epicenter might be a festering pustule,but is Punjab safe from the epidemic? Mass hysteria over endless hours of load shedding,ensued right after Punjab had come to terms with the fact that gas and CNG were relics of past glory. The government’s economic policy clearly isn’t geared towards bolstering the industrial sector as Faisalabad learnt last year;it isn’t agro or livestock oriented as one quarter of Pakistan thrust under the poverty line,that tries to forage for scraps to eat will tell you. A country that hasn’t yet experienced the organic shift from agricultural to manufacturing sectors can’t possibly have a thriving service sector either,it’s easier to picture our economy as a formless entity floating aimlessly in space towards a black hole.
Two provinces down,the third,the biggest in terms of land mass and smallest in terms of population has fingers crossed for balkanization of the region. The level of intrigue and mystique surrounding the third province is interminable. News of bounty being announced for the death of Punjabis straying in Balochistan filters out now and then and people are gripped with fear. The media and other political parties,with PTI at the fore of it have endless capacity and breath to waste on spewing criticism at the government and every preceding government in the past,reinforcing the point that balkanization might indeed be the best solution. Give the Sardars their barren play ground. A province where every provincial assembly member is given an amount set in millions for development in their constituency,but still posts an abysmal income per capita of USD 183 (PKR- 16287) per year cannot blame the federal government for the insurgency and having an ‘apathetic’ attitude towards the province. Not when the Sardars are known for smuggling weaponry worth millions from across the border and run a thriving black market with the parliament’s blessings.
KP once the adorned bride of the country is now the easiest target for terrorist activity,planting seeds of anarchy and home to the largest population of displaced people in the country. It is a province of diametrically conflicting facets where development has taken a back seat because drone attacks and military operations trying to weed out terrorists must rip the place apart first. The Northern Province has seen traumatic times in the past decade,from earth quakes,to floods,to mass terror and ensuing military operations. They have killed and been killed a thousand times over to the point where the peaceful stalemate of Kashmir is an enviable situation compared to Pakistan.
An ominous silence hangs like noxious fumes in the country poisoning corrupting and suffusing the air with mass hopelessness. Will this state of chaos lead to an ultimate implosion removing Pakistan from the equation,may be a revolution along the lines of Arab Spring which can only lead to more instability and is an unlikely possibility as it requires Pakistani’s to first and foremost unite. Building a state requires a skeleton of institutions,the sinew and muscle is later augmented by nurturing the body around the skeleton. What we need is not verbal diarrhea from political parties that have the ability of infusing hope in the populace or promises of rooting out corruption in nine days by politicians creating demigod like personas. It begs merit and sincerity to the people of the country. It requires the level of even headedness and authority that Lee Kwan Yew and Mahathir Mohammed displayed when their countries hit rock bottom. More importantly we the people need to realize we cannot be played against each other to fill some elusive character’s coffers or play out their fantastical ideologies. Pakistan isn’t a lost cause,not yet,not by a long shot. Our external affairs can take a back seat for the moment,we cannot act like jilted lovers and have no one to blame but ourselves,let’s take on the responsibility for slaying these self created dragons ourselves too.