The incumbent government in Pakistan is discernibly under a lot of pressure for delivering on tall promises made to the people of Pakistan during the election campaign, especially with regards to the provision of easy and cheap justice, the recovery of plundered national wealth through mega corruption, education reforms, controlling unbridled inflation, the provision of employment to educated youth and skilled labour; and last but not the least, ridding the country of the IMF and other foreign loans. Quite obviously, the government is way short of achieving any of the stated objectives with one and half year left for the next general elections. The hurdles faced by the government notwithstanding (not insurmountable for a bold leadership though), the current opposition consists of two main political parties, which ruled the country for decades have remained busy in either getting rid of the Prime Minister through in-house change or toppling the government through mini-marches without much traction though, due to inherent intra-party as well as inter-parties’ divergent interests. Understandably, the main motive of the opposition seems to get rid of the mega corruption cases through some backdoor deals rather than picking up the shackles of mammoth issues faced by the present government, and prolong the political turmoil till the forthcoming elections, discredit the government for non-delivery on the promises made and get back to power.
On the foreign policy front, the dilemma faced by the incumbent government is validated by the reported almost simultaneous visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan to Russia after a successful visit to China; and COAS’ prospective visit to the US. The economic plight of Pakistan with the IMF noose ever getting tighter around her neck; and a surge in terrorist activities in Pakistan with a focus on targeting the Pakistan Armed Forces in Balochistan and KP threatening CPEC, timing it with PM Khan’s visit to China, sophisticated execution with high-tech weapons and equipment and arrests of a few terror sponsoring networks in Pakistan to keep Pakistan on the anvil of hybrid war does not leave much to hide. When Pakistan is being invaded by all elements of fifth generation warfare from the east, west and south; the only solace comes from the north. Under such circumstances, the imported academic phrases like ‘refrain from camp politics’ sound as hollow as the replacement of ‘geo-strategy’ with ‘geo-economics’.
While everyone in Pakistan wants a quick fix to all the internal and external problems confronted by Pakistan; only a very few care to contribute individually or collectively by shedding away the hypocrisy afflicting our society as the number one nuisance. To show how Pakistan is viewed by the western world, let me quote former US defence secretary General Jim Mattis, who says in his new book, “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead”, “Pakistan was a country born with no affection for itself, and there was an active self-destructive streak in its political culture…Of all the countries I’ve dealt with, I consider Pakistan to be the most dangerous, because of the radicalisation of its society and the availability of nuclear weapons…The tragedy for the Pakistani people is that they don’t have leaders who care about their future.” Without agreeing with most of the views expressed in Mattis’ book, the above quoted few sentences may serve as a mirror for introspection, nevertheless. The prevalent greed, hypocrisy, radicalisation of masses by bigots frequently demonstrated by mobs indulging in lynching, destroying public and private properties, killing law enforcers and getting away scot free is an undeniable stark reality eroding Pakistan from within.
While it is thankfully acknowledged that PM Imran Khan is making the effort to rid the country of its economic woes and the armed forces, national intelligence and other law enforcement agencies are striving hard with the sacred blood of the martyrs to defeat the unrelenting hybrid war unleashed against Pakistan; the former ruling elite and public in general need to introspect with regards to their contribution in helping Pakistan to get out of the eye of the storm. It doesn’t need any genius to figure out that taking more loans cannot be a viable strategy to rid the country of foreign loans but bringing imports to a minimum and pushing production and exports to the maximum can give the desired results. In our budding relations with China and Russia, the focus has to be on mutually beneficial investments and exports rather than loan-based projects. Our tacit delivery to the US and allies on IIOJ&K and to some extent on Afghanistan need retrospective analysis vis-à-vis grand national interests. Any current and future interaction with the US and allies at any level must ensure that there is zero capitulation on our national survival kit ie strategic nuclear capability. The resolution of IIOJ&K as per UN Resolutions and aspirations of Kashmiris must also remain a prerequisite for the normalisation of relations with India, rather than blindly walking the trap of regional economic connectivity first, as propounded by some thoughtless think tanks. A regional economic and security framework including China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, CARs and Turkey is an absolute strategic necessity without any more delay. However, in order to be taken seriously, Pakistan’s internal political, security and economic facade has to be meaningfully improved by all and sundry. We have been damned for not doing so for a long time; let’s be damned by doing it now.