Watching the wheelchair bound Muslim cleric Khadim Rizvi engage his ministry at the Faizabad interchange instructs those unfamiliar with Pakistan that the Army continues to incite public violence for political profit. The army’s utter refusal to disperse militant Islamists evidenced its broader political convictions to harass Sharif while fortifying Khan.
A change in the oath administered to MP’s and other senior officials from “I solemnly swear” to the simple acknowledgment of ‘I believe‘ drove hordes of Islamists into a Faizabad interchange between Islamabad (the capital), and the nearby city of Rawalpindi (Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point). Even though the government itself approved the change, 5,000 angry Islamists took to the streets demanding the resignation of Zahid Hamid, the administering law minister.
Pakistan’s army intervened, but only to humiliate and undermine the ruling party of Punjab, the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif (PML-N).
Having been deposed as Pakistan’s prime minster for failing to declare an entitled salary he never received adds to the frantic opacity the army has in dismantling Pakistan’s Muslim League. This is the third time the army has deposed Sharif from office. The only person benefiting from this episode is Imran Khan.
Khan is positioning himself for an army cleared path to office. He openly defends both the mullahs and the military and he stoutly eviscerates anyone advancing policy that would increase civil society or the reform of Pakistani’s political economy.
The stage managing of politics has a long history within Pakistan’s citadel. What army leadership will never admit is this: they don’t have the resources to reform Pakistan’s political economy out from autarchy while administering the security needs of the State that remain held by state sponsored jihadi’s.
Pakistan is exhausted, enveloped and isolated. And its out of time. It needs policy clarity from functioning institutions loyal to Jinnah’s republican vision. And it needs normalized relations with India servicing market based goals to strengthen emerging yet suffocated social components of civil society.
Fixing Pakistan means addressing the needs of its varying social base, the truth source of Islamabad’s strength.