Prevailing Pak situation demands serious action

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By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

THE existing situation as a whole in Pakistan demands serious consideration to come out from the delicate situation being conflicted by the nation. Shakespeare describes a particular situation like Pakistan’s in his famous quote in Hamlet that there ‘something is rotten in the state of Denmark’. Indeed, if one looks at Pakistan’s prevailing condition full of problems of various magnitudes and beyond the capacity of both the elected and non-elected leaders, it qualifies to be nothing but ‘rotten’, perhaps much more than that.

As predicted by economists the devastating fall out effects of IMF bailout package have started showing its adverse impact on an economy already sunk deep in the quagmire of high prices, galloping inflation, unemployment, lawlessness as manifested in the intermittent but regular target strikes by the terrorists who we are supposed to have uprooted from their safe heavens in our country as per our official tweeting master’s claim.

Though we have had elections and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s elected aka selected government is fast moving towards completing one-fifth of its tenure without much to show as proof of performance except orchestration of anti-corruption mantra and repetition of tall promises. By his high sounding claim of a 22-year long struggle to get into power one had expected that once in office he would rise taller than other leaders in practising true democracy, empowerment of the Parliament as the sole arbiter of power, ensure free expression, freedom of media, freedom of association and fundamental right to hold dharnas like PTIs, sit-ins, above board accountability through a transparent National Accountability Bureau and last but not the least and guaranteed independent judiciary to provide quick justice.

Unfortunately all that has been a pipe dream. How ineffective this government is can be imagined by the fact that it has surrendered the economic sovereignty and financial writ of the state into the hands of IMF musketeers. PTI government has done nothing substantive to inspire confidence of the masses in the immediate future. It was his election pledge that he would rather commit suicide than go to IMF to seek a bailout. He ignited hopes of a false dawn only two months ago when he had said prosperity was around the corner as Pakistan was to hit jackpot of oil and gas reserves in the Arabian Sea off Karachi that would have opened floodgates of prosperity. It proved to be nothing but hot air. As if all that was not enough that now he wants the nation to show patience for two or three months more to see the magic of his words when Pakistan would become so rich and prosperous that world’s unemployed would follow him like the proverbial Pied Piper.

Notwithstanding his gross failure to give the state good governance, he seems to be hell bent in destabilising the system. Total mal-administration has rendered the most populated province in the country with more than 60 percent representation in military, civil and judicial services into a police state. His Chief Minister is neither here nor there, just fond of transferring police officers every month or so, letting the terrorists, sectarian killers and other criminal a blank cheque to do whatever they want to do.

One may also recall that after the return of democracy in 2008 in both PPPP and PMLN governments there were no political prisoners. ‘Loli langri’ democracy some how was moving on. Unfortunately the process has been now put in a reverse gear. One MNA from Fata Ali Wazeer has been arrested and custody given to CTF for interrogation for his alleged involvement in Fata firing incident on security check post. Ali Wazeer has been accused of inciting PTM protestors to violence. His other colleague Mohsin Dawar managed to escape from the scene and has denied to the media that PTM supporters resorted to attacking the check post.

PTM leaders maintain that their politics is essentially peaceful, democratic and constitutional. Indeed, one must give them credit to Mohsin Dawar, MNA and Ali Wazeer, MNA, for successfully steering 26th Amendment Bill in the Parliament for increasing the NA seats and having it adopted unanimously. In this context PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is right when he discounts the ISPR allegation that both elected MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazeer could indulge in firing on security post. Both have a place in the house which is the most powerful forum to raise their voice against any grievance against the state or high handedness by any institution.

Advertent or inadvertent mishandling of the Fata situation gave birth to Pashtoon Tahafuz Movement. And now further mishandling and rough treatment is driving PTM into the corner. Notwithstanding the intelligence agencies’ mantra that sees a foreign hand in everything that goes wrong or a situation it fails to grapple on account of its incompetence-it is time to change the mid set.

There is a countrywide consensus among political leaders as well as a demand by HRCP that a parliamentary commission on Waziristan be appointed to look into the Fata grievances and role of PTM. Indeed, as apprehended by HRCP the use of military force causing deaths of at least three Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activists and others in North Waziristan is implosive and if not handled carefully will further escalate tensions between PTM supporters and security institutions that would obviously lead to a permanent conflict.

Last but not the least, one would support HRCP demand for the release of MNA Ali Wazeer and any other activists taken into custody. A parliamentary commission be immediately set up to investigate into the matter and establish the truth. PM Khan who shares the grievances raised by PTM must assert his authority for resolving local issues. No doubt passage of the 26th Constitutional Amendment is a healthy development; however, the state must ensure that the media and civil society are allowed independent access to the former FATA. It is high time that the media too does not restrict its role to muted reporting of facts.

(The writer is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist)