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Endgame Threatens the Integrity of Pakistan


By Khaled Ahmed

29 June, 2012

'Rawalpindi should not to be consoled by the prospect of a Pashtun buffer along Pakistan's western borders'

The economy has been winding down for the past year and has reached a point where the population is forced to stage localised uprisings in all four provinces. The rupee is rapidly losing value and the employed are gradually losing their jobs. A prime minister has been fired, hailed by TV channels, most of whom don't pay salaries. The new prime minister is universally despised and the opposition is following 'scorched earth' policy to get rid of President Zardari. Pakistan has scant chance of surviving.

Foreign Minister Khar is challenging the US, insisting on an apology from President Obama on the eve of elections in America, asking him to 'show understanding'. Pakistan needs help with an economy that is stalling. It needs to go back to the IMF to save its balance of payments from collapsing. Pakistan wants to allow passage to NATO but is incapable internally to make it possible, putting the teeth of Europe on edge and affixing a fatal seal on its obsession with 'honourable' isolation.

The Supreme Court has got rid of a prime minister who had a majority in a parliament that pronounced itself clearly against its encroachment into the domain of the legislature. ANF, an anti-narcotics force manned by serving military officers - and supposedly subordinated to the elected government - is pursuing a PPP politician named as next prime minister. The next election is early next year but the opposition thinks it is once again time to get rid of the government before its tenure is concluded.

Half of the Afghan Pashtun population will flee into Pakistan and seek shelter, not so much from the Pakistani state as from the non state actors collecting money from Pakistani population through kidnappings and bank holdups

With the mood Pakistan is in, no government can save it from collapsing into the 'failed state' category whereas the patently 'failing state' of Afghanistan is ensured survival till 2024 by the US and its partners to prevent Al Qaeda from coming to power there with the help of Pakistan. International opinion has swung against Pakistan, especially against the Supreme Court which was earlier seen as a rarely 'independent' guarantee against corruption. Former Chief Justice of India Justice Markandey Katju wrote in Hindu (21 June 2012):

'Following this principle in British constitutional law, almost every Constitution in the world has incorporated a provision giving total immunity to Presidents and Governors from criminal prosecution. Thus, Section 248(2) of the Pakistani Constitution states: No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or Governor in any Court during his term of office.

The language of the above provision is clear, and it is a settled principle of interpretation that when the language of a provision is clear the court should not twist or amend its language in the garb of interpretation, but read it as it is. I therefore fail to understand how proceedings on corruption charges (which are clearly of a criminal nature) can be instituted or continued against the Pakistani President.

'Moreover, how can the court remove a Prime Minister? This is unheard of in a democracy. The Prime Minister holds office as long he has the confidence of Parliament, not the confidence of the Supreme Court. I regret to say that the Pakistani Supreme Court, particularly its Chief Justice, has been showing utter lack of restraint. This is not expected of superior courts. In fact the court and its Chief Justice have been playing to the galleries for long. It has clearly gone overboard and flouted all canons of constitutional jurisprudence'.

Social media prophet with a growing following of devotees, Zaid Hamid has foreseen the next episode in the unending misfortunes of Pakistan. His message reads:

'Dear Children and members read this carefully and do NOT panic. We expect violent protests, riots and lawlessness in the country in the next 2 months. In the absence of a stable government, the insurgents, terrorists and criminals will take full advantage of the chaos and anarchy already present in the country.

Prepare yourself for these difficult times. Stock some food and essential supplies and if you have licensed weapons, keep them at home for self protection. With the levels of anarchy that we have seen in the last few days in urban Punjab, you may have to protect your own homes, honour and lives.

'We expect that till the end of August, this anarchy would continue, when finally, Insha Allah, Supreme Court and army would then be forced to step in decisively to bring in a caretaker government which would start to stabilize the country. Insha Allah, there will be no elections. Also, Insha Allah, the PPP regime and the PML (N) will not form the caretakers as they plan to do. This duty will also be done by the SC and army, Insha Allah'.

If Pakistan Army, which runs the country's foreign policy and doesn't want to fight the terrorists that attack other states, takes over it will hardly be able to take the tough decisions dictated by the economy. It has pushed the elected government to embrace isolationism and thus commit hara-kiri. Both Army and the judiciary are inclined to favour the forces that threaten the world with terror. They can firm up the identity of Pakistan as a rogue state, not a state inclined to self-correction.

Soon the next deniable Pakistani war will start in Afghanistan. Towards the end of 2013, it will reach its first climax with Pakistani non state actors lending a hand in the Taliban's war against the 250,000-strong Afghan National Army, with another 150,000 police added in a war that will be a mixture of terrorism and battlefield conflict. Half of the Afghan Pashtun population will flee into Pakistan and seek shelter, not so much from the Pakistani state as from the non state actors collecting money from Pakistani population through kidnappings and bank holdups.

Ashley J. Tellis writes: 'Any Taliban control of southern and eastern Afghanistan would lay the geographic and demographic foundations for resuscitating the old Pashtun yearnings for a separate state, a "Pashtunistan" that would threaten the integrity of Pakistan. Given the current resentment of the Taliban leadership toward its Pakistani protectors, Rawalpindi should not to be consoled by the prospect of a Pashtun buffer along Pakistan's western borders' (Commentary, June 22, 2012).