Undoubtedly Pakistan faces many challenges, but it will be stable and successful democratic nation only through fair elections and with smooth functioning of governments-in-power for full-term. On the one hand, on June 5, 2014 Nawaz Sharif (as PM of Pakistan) completed the first year of the second consecutive democratic regime after the 2008-2013 ‘Zardari-Gilani era’—a “landmark achievement” because for the first time in the history of Pakistan a democratically elected government completed its full term of five years.
But on the other hand, Pakistan is still at a “critical juncture” in its political history as it is facing enormous challenges—both internal and external—ranging from socio-economic, political and of violence (like the terrorist/violent activities of TTP and other terrorist groups: the most recent being the Karachi Airport Attacks), and many threats of “tsunami” and of “peaceful revolution” protests and marches from Imran Khan (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf: PTI) and Allama Dr Tahir ul Qadri (Pakistan Awami Tehreek: PAT) respectively.
Thus being at the crossroads on one side, both due to its challenges as well as due to its political trajectory of governing structure, many have called Pakistan a country that is either on the “Eye of a Storm” or is politically “a failure” state”; a “Country in Crisis”, facing mostly the “Crisis of Governability”and is thus either in a “Fruitless Search for Democracy” or with a “poor track record of democracy”. And having made a “Drift into Extremism” and being “on the Brink” of “Chaos” and “Crisis”, for many the “Pakistan Cauldron” suggests its “Stability Paradox”that has always depended on the clichés of three “A’s”: “Allah, Army, and America”, and is now “Waiting for Allah” because it is at a “critical juncture”—at a “critical juncture in its political history as it undertakes an uncertain journey towards democratization”.
Moreover, many writers (Pakistanis, Westerners, and others), especially in post-9/11 era, have authored books on various aspects of Pakistan history, especially political, with very “terrifying”, “scary”, “distressing”, and “precarious” titles. Just having a look on these titles, it seems as if Pakistan is going to “perish” from the globe just in few moments. For example,Lawrence Ziring’s Pakistan: The Enigma of Political Development (1980) & Pakistan at the Crosscurrent of History(2005); Christina Lamb’s Waiting for Allah (1991); Hassan Abbas’s Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism (2004); Owen Bennett Jones’s Pakistan: Eye of the Storm (2009); Ahmed Rashid’s Descent into Chaos (2009) & Pakistan on the Brink (2012); James P. Farwell’s The Pakistan Cauldron (2011); Anatol Lieven’s Pakistan: A Hard Country (2011); Farzana Shaikh’s Making Sense of Pakistan (2009); Ashutosh Misra & Michael E. Clarke’s Pakistan’s Stability Paradox (2013), and the list continues.
These titles reveal that almost whole history of Pakistan revolves around this “enigma”, “cauldron”, or “storm”, but this is not the true face of Pakistan, but what these titles depict is just an instance in the history of Pakistan. Also, what is pertinent to mention is that the key question Pakistan faces today is whether it will be able to complete the current second consecutive democratic order, or whether it will slip further into a “political turmoil” that has characterised most of its history—during Gen(s) Ayub Khan in 1960s, Zia ul Haq in 1980s, and Parvez Musharraf in 2000s. Or in other words, Whether Nawaz Sharif completes his tenure successfully or not? Will he be able to bring political and economic stability (“democratic stability”) in Pakistan? Will his government be able to cope up all the challenges? These questions are in the minds of many scholars and have been debated and discussed very much.
And amid this chaos—including threats of “tsunami” and “peaceful revolution” protests and marches by Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri respectively and of Taliban terrorist attack threats of “blowing up” this and that—and the challenges Pakistan is facing, there is hope for the stability and success of democratic governance and political stability in Pakistan.
Presently what Pakistan is in need of, in the words of a friend of mine is to “Let the present government stay at the helm for the same constitutional period [i.e., for its full term]. It would be up to the people to re-elect or reject it in the next elections. That is how the democratic tradition would be firmly rooted and flourish.\”
Similarly another friend suggested that to “rebuild and put Pakistan together in some new order”, the need of the hour isa “purposeful implementation” of some measures—which include extra-focus on ‘Honest and capable leadership’; ‘Social justice’; ‘Education’; ‘Economic growth’; ‘Health care’; ‘Energy sector’; to combat fully ‘Terrorism’; to sustain and strength the transparency in ‘Foreign affairs’; ‘Austerity’; ‘Accountability’; and ‘Police’. For him, this will surely “accelerate the process of rebuilding of Pakistan”, because majority of the Pakistanis are committed “to rekindle the hope of abolishing poverty, unemployment, insecurity, extremism and terrorism” in Pakistan in a “foreseeable future.”
Moreover, many are hopeful about Pakistan’s successful transition to ‘stable’ democracy: for example, for Prof Hassan Askari Rizvi (Pakistani political scientist, military/defence analyst) democracy would show its fruits after holding of four to five consecutive elections. For him, “military interventions had not given a chance to political parties for strengthening democracy.” And for Prof Tahir Amin, Professor and Chairman of the NIPS, Quaid-i-Azam University, after holding three to four consecutive elections (2008 and 2013 elections included), Pakistan will make a “successful transition to ‘stable’democracy”.
Lastly, it is pertinent to quote Shahid Javed Burki’s more-than-a-decade-old-argument: “The challenges facing the country are enormous [social, political, economic, internal and external]; so, too, is its potential. Will Pakistan realize its potential? Or will it be overwhelmed by its problems? Only time will tell” (Burki,Pakistan: Fifty Years of Nationhood, 1999, p. xxi).
Thus, in Pakistan, amid the present prevailing “chaos”—including threats of “tsunami” and “peaceful revolution” protests and marches by Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri respectively and of PTT terrorist threats of “blowing up” this and that—and the ‘challenges’ Pakistan is facing, there is ‘hope’ for the stability and success of its democratic governance and political stability as well—of course on the condition if Pakistan realizes its potential, and if opposition parties do not create hindrances in the smooth functioning of the governments-in-power (for full-term). Let\’s hope it comes out of this “critical juncture”, “enigma”, and “cauldron” and \”hope\” it \’creates a new history—a history full of hope, optimism, progress, advancement, and much more. Thus, amid chaos and challenges there is hope, and “hope never dies”.

Area 14/8

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