2018 elections – Looking forward

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2018 elections have again cropped up the question that why Pakistan always stands at some crisis with a turbulent history with tug of war among the provinces–as well deep-rooted conflict that always led to a nuclear stand-off with India-preventing Pakistan from gaining real stability in the last seven decades. It has always oscillated between military rule and democratically elected governments, between secular policies and financial backing as a “frontline” state during the Cold War and the war against terrorism. Economic crisis has always remained at its forefronts with no education, no health, no water, no safety and no employments for its inhabitants.
Scarred from birth, Pakistan’s quest for survival has been as compelling as it has been uncertain. Despite the shared religion of its overwhelmingly Muslim population, Pakistan has been engaged in a precarious struggle to define a national identity and evolve a political system for its linguistically diverse population.
All of Pakistan’s struggles underpin the dilemma they face in reconciling the goal of national integration with the imperatives of national security.
The diversity of Pakistan’s provinces, therefore, was a potential threat to central authority, whereas the provincial arenas continued to be the main centers of political activity.
Both the military and the civil bureaucracy were affected by the disruptions wrought by partition. Pakistan cycled through a number of politicians through their beginning with political and economic crises. The politicians were corrupt, interested in maintaining their political power and securing the interests of the elite, so to have them as the representative authority did not provide much hope of a democratic state that can provide socio-economic justice and fair administration to all Pakistani citizens.
From 1947 to 2013, Pakistan saw many faces with their rule. Liauqat Ai Khan, the first PM was assassinated. Then came Khawaja Nazimuddin, Mohammad Ali Bogra,Ch Muhammad Ali, Husain Suhrwardy, Ibrahim Chundrigar, Feroze Khan Noon, Nurul Amin, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Muhammad Khan Junejo, Benazir Bhutto, Mian Nawaz Saharif, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali,Ch Shujjat Husain, Shaukat Aziz, Yousuf Raza Gillani, Raja Pervez Ashraf Shahid Khaqan Abbas with 7 care taker Prime Ministers. All of their tenure ended before time. Pakistan also saw General Ayub, Genera Yahya, General Ziaul Haq and General Musharraf as Military rules. Nobody of these figures were able to provide stability to Pakistan.
Mohammad Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan had always envisioned a democratic Pakistan and many of his successors have struggled towards this goal, but not more than maintaining their own platforms of power. It is ironic that such political instability plagues a country whose number one objective of its leaders is to secure their own power. Maybe it is time for a new equation in 2018. For this Imran Khan has arrived with new hopes.
Everyone knows that Pakistan faces the task of setting government priorities in accordance with the needs of its diverse and unevenly developed constituent units. Regardless of the form of government–civilian or military, Islamic or secular–solutions of the problem of mass illiteracy and economic inequities on the one hand, and the imperatives of national integration and national security will always determine the degree of political stability, or instability, that Pakistan faces in the decades. But the people and the nation persevere offering the world great cultural, religious, and intellectual traditions.
Elections to the National Assembly and four provincial Assemblies held on 25th July 2081 are being thought to be manipulated. These are the views of every person walking on the street just because of the script that may help to continue the dominance of some institutions. But we should now get out of this debate. It is very simple to analyze that why democracy’s fate has been so different in India and Pakistan.
In Pakistan Political polarization is not just between political parties but exist in other institutions as well. The main element for such polarization is that how we should use our regional policies with our neighbors. We all know that in this election (2018), there are several religious extremist groups whose members were contesting. For instance, the Milli Muslim League, which is the political party of the extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah party. Everyone knows that who is behind their mainstreaming into politics.
Another question is that Why in Pakistan unlike in India, Military rule has cycled many times. The reasons are historical and structural. When Pakistan was created, it got a financial structure that was 17.5% of undivided India, and a military that was one-third of undivided India. In other words, the areas that made up Pakistan contributed just 17.5% of India’s tax revenue before 1947 and inherited about one-third of undivided India’s military. Pakistan has never been able to square up this gap.
It is the structural reality of Partition that it has always remained on a fault line. And that fault line is its inability to match its financial needs.
The difference between India and Pakistan is that India inherited a pre-existing Centre meaning a federal judiciary, bureaucracy, among others while Pakistan had to create one. Pakistan was a state that was not supposed to survive as planned and planted by British rulers. But by grace of God it did manage to survive. However for that Pakistan has to pay some price for its survival and that is what we are paying till now.
Another factor is that Pakistan has always got a rubber-stamping Parliament with no situation changed even in 2018. There is no comparison between the election commissions of India and Pakistan. You cannot blame the Election Commission of Pakistan because that is the power they have.
Hence in these situations if Imran Khan could not deliver practically apart from what he is saying than still it would not be his fault.
Another factor is our media. Many Pakistani journalists have been very courageous. The crackdown on any media houses that tried to advance a narrative different from that of channels run by the political forces has now come under question.
Finally everyone is now asking that how Pakistan can resolve its structural problems?
The structural problem could have been sorted out, had there been a fair playing field. There seems to be a pushback and there are means available, through social media, through technology, by which people are challenging the authoritarian strains of the deep state.
Still in these conditions even if Nawaz Sharif or some other politicians think that they can simply assert their constitutional right. The answer would be no, as practically it would not be possible. These things need practical steps and not what is written on some paper. In India, too, it is a product of a functioning reality. It is not just about the Constitution. The fact is that all Indians managed to work out an arrangement, thanks to their political parties.
Politicians in Pakistan will have to strengthen institutions instead of simply asserting their constitutional rights to shape the destiny of the country. This can only happen when they start to deliver on their promises to the electorate and create the space to assert themselves in substance rather than in form.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led by former cricketer Imran Khan will have to make many compromises; everyone has to make a compromise. You can see it in all the narratives. Sharif perhaps took on the establishment and judiciary prematurely.
This election cycle though have lot of questions but we all should accept it now.
Well, now we should bring ourselves into normal life. One way is of mainstreaming the people. But there are those who wonder who is mainstreaming whom. This development has alarmed vocal sections of civil society and it does not bode well for the future with people fearing the impact of the militants on mainstream politics rather than welcoming the mainstreaming of militants.
Historically, religious parties never got much electoral traction. Other than under Musharraf, who delimited constituencies and unfairly gave them the opportunity to form government. In the 2002 elections, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an umbrella group of religious parties, had won 63 seats. But, historically, yes, even the most Right-Wing person voted for a party like the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and now for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
Another thing is to call the shots on foreign policy and defense, but running Pakistan is another ball game. There are many complexities here. You cannot always deliver. It is true of India as well. The difference between India and Pakistan is the structural balance between elected and non-elected institutions.
Still, Khan has a hot-headed, independent streak that unnerves everyone but that is part of his personality.
Regardless of who is in power, difficulties loom? Pakistan’s economy is teetering and is likely to require a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, after the current account deficit doubled this year. An international money-laundering watchdog put Pakistan back on its “grey list”, indicating insufficient efforts to combat financing of terrorism. And a financial slowdown could reduce the leeway to protect the country from a water crisis, or bolster decrepit hospitals and schools.
As for last words, we all have to work together for resolution of these problems.