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The state of disarray

Akhtar Ali

Following the May 9 rampages, PTI is under siege by state oppression. Thousands of workers have been incarcerated including the top leadership.

Notwithstanding the court order to release the leaders, police re-arrest and put them in jail under the pretext of law and order situation. Women are dragged by the police. Attacks on the workers’ homes are being reported and the media is controlled allowing dissemination only a single narrative. Where are we heading?

Pakistan is passing through a tumultuous period in its history. Political instability has gripped the country; polarization is felt even in institutions; lawlessness is widespread and the fundamental rights of citizens are abused. Since the country is on the verge of economic collapse, political witch-hunting on the eve of the general election can further exacerbate political instability putting the country into the abyss of perpetual violence.

It is no denying the fact that the perpetrators of rampages must be punished with due legal process, but in the guise of violence witch-hunting and curtailing the power of a popular political party amounts to further spread of the violence. State oppression may curtail the power of a political party for a short time, but cannot wipe it out forever. Even such highhandedness further strengthens its support base. The oppression against the PPP during Zia’s era, PML-N during the Musharaf and Imran Khan’s period are the example of such high handedness.  

Pakistan’s current social, political, and economic crisis reflects our collective failure. All the stakeholders are equally responsible to bring the country to this point. Paradoxically, nobody is ready to take responsibility for this crisis rather the blame game is at its apex. Although the onus of this crisis is more on the political leadership, the establishment’s share cannot be ruled out to exacerbate political turmoil.

The solution to this crisis lies in the national consensus as the army chief has already emphasized. If we pursue the policy of confrontation as we did in the past, Pakistan may not afford it. It would have serious repercussions for the future of democracy and the unity of the state at large if the consensus among the stakeholders failed.

Political leadership needs to come together on time and devise a strategy to bring the country out of the mess lest it should be too late. The policy of repression may work for a short time but its long-term impact would be detrimental to the country as anarchy can grip the country making it unlivable. 

 

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