Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
No state, individual or government can claim to have an eternal right to rule because their right to existence is directly linked to the duty of and commitment to fairness and justice for all without discrimination. They are under a moral, legal and social obligation to perform. Abandonment of this principle deprives them of their right to rule, govern or exist. They also become a credible threat to the welfare and safety of the people.
Here too the government has lost, if it ever had, its right to exercise power in the name of the people due its illegality and obsoleteness. Having lost its right to exist, it has become compulsively repressive and oppressive. Organized and systemic repression has become an absolute necessity for it and it is exclusively preoccupied with preserving its perks and privileges. Its intransigence and obduracy has increased in proportion to the worsening of the situation and conditions.
Since its survival depends on repression, all the organs of state have actively undertaken the obsessive implementation of repression because without the harsh and ruthless approach towards dissenters and protestors, it would be exposed to an increasing tendency of dissent and opposition from the oppressed people and this would undermine its ability to rule.
Due to its overriding need to suppress dissent, the infrastructure for remedying and solving problems has either broken down completely or been severely curtailed. The people have no hope of redress for their grievances, no atonement of injustices and no solution to their miseries. Moreover when they protest or oppose the injustices, they come up against the brute force of the state.
The front page picture of a protesting shalwarless Mohammad bin Masood, who by no stretch of the imagination was a threat to the wellbeing of the state, being beaten and manhandled by at least seven policemen has not only shamed the people of this country but also put their lingering doubts to rest about who this country belongs to.
The picture is not only an indictment of the ruling classes and of their absolute disregard for the sovereign rights and self-respect of the people they are supposed to serve and work for, but also representative of the way this country continues to be governed by rulers who consider their rule here as part of Divine Will.
It certainly must have been a rude shock to the sensibility of those who still saw a ray of hope in these ‘enlightened moderate’ rulers who have chosen to indefinitely burden the people with their hollow promises and even hollower actions. It should now be abundantly clear to even the most diehard optimist that this country is in for rougher and turbulent times in the foreseeable future.
What happened in Rawalpindi on December 28th is neither random nor isolated; it is a part of a well thought out and organized approach to the problems facing the ruling junta. It is an overt symptom of grievous underlying affliction. The more isolated and more out of touch with reality the junta becomes, the more brutal it becomes.
The mayhem, the viciousness, the corruption and the breakdown of institutions are symptoms of a state and its rulers abjectly failing in their moral obligation of providing a just, safe, fair and equitable system of governance to the majority of the people. And this is exactly how the scenario always unfolds in a failing state.
The most disconcerting factor is that the rulers are not having sleepless nights worrying about the future of this country. Moreover their over-extravagance, in deadly combination with proverbial sleaze and incompetence, has added to the problems of the people, who face increasing problems of state terrorism, inflation, economic and social insecurity, crime wave, sectarian killings and a complete breakdown of government services.
To rub the proverbial salt in sore wounds, there is vulgar opulence on the one hand and an increasing social and economic insecurity on the other. A section of the population close to the ruling apparatus does thrive and it projects its prosperity as the prosperity of the country. It should however be remembered that it is because of the cushioning of a minority and the rampant injustices against the vast majority that the inevitable and inexorable slide towards a failed state begins.
As the junta’s insecurity increases, it begins using excessive and indiscriminate violence as a tool of governance. The Army operations in Balochistan and killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the operations in Waziristan including the Bajaur and Damadola tragedies and the latest Zamzola area incident are all an outcome of this sense of their insecurity.
The recent incarceration and trial in camera of Sardar Akhtar Mengal and his being put in an iron cage is because the state wishes to convey the message that those who dare to confront it or resist the junta’s high-handedness will be given no quarter. They fail to comprehend that the iron cages and enforced disappearances will only help temper the steel and intensify the Baloch struggle.
The Baloch and Pashtuns have been labelled anti-state to provide justification for brutality against them but they are not the only victims of state violence. Members of civil society too are not exempt from high-handedness. Not so long ago, Asma Jehangir and others were manhandled while protesting. Journalists, lawyers and teachers are often at the receiving end of police batons. The logic behind this is that this use of force will deter others from expressing dissent in howsoever mild a manner.
But then what else can be expected from the lot that wields power at present. The Centre is ruled by a coalition of cutthroat turncoats and goons turned politicians led by the Chaudries of Gujrat, who serve their Commando General without compunction and questions. The provinces of Punjab and Sindh are a microcosm of the Centre, while Balochistan is ruled by a coalition of wily religious leaders and conniving politicians. NWFP suffers at the hands of religio-political entities who want to stay glued to power at all costs.
More alarmingly the tone, tenor and thrust of Musharraf’s rhetoric has increasingly begun resembling the perniciously self-righteous strain of Milosevic’s and Mugabe’s rhetoric, while the country, though not yet Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe or Somalia, is slowly and steadily on that path and will become like them if present policies continue. There is a credible threat of this scenario materializing.
If all the above ingredients are not enough to unfold social, economic, political and ethnic cataclysmic events here and to push us over the brink of the abyss of catastrophe, then the breaking up of Yugoslavia and the calamitous situation in Somalia are not due to the follies of their leaders, their armed forces and the conniving opposition, but because of some witchcraft, black magic and voodoo spell cast by people with an evil eye.
Tailpiece: At times out of revulsion at Washington’s brutality and arrogance, I wish that Bush were allowed to be the President for a third term so that he could, due to his unparalleled follies, truly accomplish the mission to make the US go belly up like the Soviet Union and rid the world once and for all of the malevolence of its power.
On January 17th the Cabinet here, yes a truly wooden and petrified cabinet (pun intended), has decided that the sitting spineless and fossilized Assemblies will re-elect the incumbent Commando President this year. Looking at the track record of this present junta, I would say that yet another term for him means it is curtains for Pakistan.
This article was first published in The Post on 23 January, 2007