General Qamar Javed Bajwa stands named as the 68th most powerful people in the world for 2018. General Bajwa in Forbes’ List is a global acknowledgement of the sordid influence of the Deep State on political executives and the unstable democracy of Pakistan. Some Pakistanis are celebrating the achievement but the nation and the realists are lamenting.
Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
New Delhi, 15 May 2018
Story till Now
Pakistan has witnessed nothing but turmoil in its political climate. Pak Army has constantly meddled in its national politics wherein Franksteins have been created to deliver justices with political biases, fundamentalism has influenced public opinion and policy-makers have been hostage to the favours by Pak Army. It is an apprehension that upcoming general elections in July 2018 shall be a pre-decided ploy of the Deep State to have a puppet government which shall toe the line that Pak Army may desire.
Pak Army controls the government and also the nuclear weapons. It has turned into a key player on the political scene and has come to control a wide economic sector. A long history of military intervention in politics after the birth of the country in 1947 itself casts long dark shadow on democratic ethos of the country. Pak Army fosters powerful nexus among the bureaucracy, the military, the landed elite and the fundamentalists who ensure Punjabi hegemony over the nation.
Pakistan always lacked professional politicians. Rise of ethnic nationalist movements, fundamentalism, tensions with Afghanistan and India over Kashmir and the Durand Line have created a sense of deep vulnerability. These vulnerabilities greatly contributed to strengthening the army and its political role and the same was abetted by weak political systems, inefficient and corrupt politicians who tried to maximize their own interests rather than working for the common good. ‘Panama Papers and Mister 10 Percent’ have become synonymous to Pak politics. Pak Army which projected an image of national pride and savior, disciplined and organized institution got an increasing political role and ultimately contributed to the weakening of political players.
Pak Army’s economic interests are enormous as they have acquired a prominent economic role which takes the forms of benefits, allotment of large plots of land, running commercial projects, key posts in the public sector and in state-run corporations, running business ventures of its welfare initiatives having wide array of commercial activities thus emerging among the largest business houses in Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif due to their fallibility have provided the military with even greater economic opportunities with a view to appease it while trying to reduce its political role. So here is Pak Army in business such as power sector, broadcasting, educational institutions, construction, transportation, large scale mining and farming.
Pak Army appears to have taken it upon itself to act as the sole protector and guarantor of the idea of Pakistan. With every passing day, the perception is getting stronger. Deep State through its propaganda and whisper-campaigns has convinced its citizens that politicians have compromised national interest and Pak Army is the only well wisher and saviour of the nation. And all this has happened wherein Pak Army enjoys the privileges and power without due accountability to the people.
Successive Chiefs of Pak Army have initiated wars with India as they only call the shots. ISI has been at their beck and call and maneuverings have been as per the likes and dislikes of Chiefs. Democracy requires time and continuity however deliberate disruptive interventions by Pak Army have nullified the successive political gains catapulting military to the center-stage and place of national prominence.
Democracy inspires effective participation by people in policy making, governance, to deliberate alternatives, ensuring fundamental rights, delivery of public goods and to foster many facets of human development.
However in the emerging scenarios, people are secondary and Pak Army is no way accountable to the people. Whether it is CPEC or visit by Chief to Maldives or pacifying Hazaras in Quetta and even creating agenda for next general elections; Deep State is having all the keys to the power and thus the dance of charade of democracy shall continue unabated.
So here is General Bajwa in the Forbes’ List but how about political institutions, democracy and above all people? General Bajwa at 68th position in Forbes’ List is surely ominous.
Democracy will have to wait much longer to emerge in Pakistan. Till then Pakistan remains at the mercy of Pak Army who instigate conflicts, orchestrate wars and fuels regional instabilities.
Thus let Pak live with dilemma whether to celebrate or lament; General Bajwa being in the Forbes’ List!
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal and web channel, National Defence.