Flag of Islamic Republic of Pakistan at the rusty background. Photo: iStock

The term “deep state” refers to a coordinated effort by career government employees and other individuals to influence public policy without regard for democratically elected leadership. It is actually the expansion of military complexes and corporate vested interests.

The deep state works on the principle that common citizens have no understanding of the complex affairs of the policymakers, hence their collective wisdom to choose elected representatives is not deemed good for the country.

According to Jerome Corsi, an American political commentator, the first principle of all propaganda and disinformation involves the manipulation of public opinion by the creation of a lie – known in today’s terminology as a “narrative,” that is “crafted to be sufficiently credible so a persistent campaign of repeating the lie can change public opinion, even if the lie – the “narrative” or the “meme’”– is totally untrue, concocted without any basis in fact, evidence, or reality.”

To ensure the propaganda spreads, any facts that disprove the disinformation meme are dismissed as “conspiracy theories” – a term designed to disparage anyone bold enough to have perceived the truth. He further states that the forces behind the propaganda (deep state) firmly believe that well-crafted disinformation memes cannot be refuted or defeated by the truth and to do so, a greater, more immediate crisis that demands the 24/7 attention of all deep state actors and propagandists is needed.

To make it simple, it can be said that the rule to manipulate the minds of people or to manufacture public opinion is to engage them in the issues which are actually not threatening to the monopoly and hegemony of the deep state. The art of creating non-existent threats and fictional stories about the crimes of opponents does a good job for the corporations and institutions who want to allow the subconscious of the masses to be dictated. In the modern day, minds are held hostage with the help of every available communication tool.

In Pakistan, the deep state has always been successful in undermining democracy and the opposition. In fact, it has always successfully asserted its authority on each and every domain of society. The nexus of mullahs, property tycoons and businessmen and serving and retired bureaucrats and opportunistic politicians have all lent their support to the invisible forces in order for the deep state to maintain a successful business enterprise.

Elected governments were toppled, elected representatives were hanged or sent to prison, wars were waged, jihad and extremism were introduced in the name of patriotism – in fact, the ideology of the founding father of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was hijacked, but not a single person has ever been brought to justice for all the mishaps and misadventures. Instead, through the propaganda machine, the elected representatives and democracy have always been targeted and held responsible for the blunders of the deep state.

Fatima Jinnah was declared a traitor and a non-Muslim because she challenged the narrative of the deep state. Sheikh Mujib was called a traitor, and then it was Zulfikar Bhutto. Benazir Bhutto was given the office of prime minister on the condition that she would not interfere in internal-security policy and foreign affairs. Dictatorships were imposed, and wars sponsored by the US and Saudi Arabia were fought in the name of patriotism and protecting religion.

Then, after Pervez Musharraf’s exit, the invisible forces changed the policy, and instead of direct interference, they ran affairs from behind closed doors.

It is a known fact that you can start a war but you can never end it until you win it. While ousting prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the invisible forces never expected resilience from him, and this miscalculation gave him a small window through which to come back. Of course, with all his experience it did not take too long for him to emerge as a grave threat to the deep state.

Elected representatives have always been portrayed as villains, but for the first time, it is the invisible forces and their allies who have been deemed part of the problem, not the solution

His mammoth public gatherings, his ability to retain his party’s electoral vote bank and his narrative of “respect my vote” weakened the invisible forces and put them on the back foot. So the nexus of clerics, the property and faith mafia, the corporations, the media houses – all were given the task of denting the influence of the dissident Sharif, but nothing worked.

Finally what the invisible forces decided was again to use the judiciary to silence the voice of Sharif. After his disqualification, banning his speeches is another step that is going to be taken in the weeks to come.

One wonders, with so many resources and so much power, if the invisible forces are not able to win the war of propaganda, then how on earth will they win it by silencing Sharif? It seems they are losing with each passing day and the dissident voices from Punjab are actually making them weaker and weaker. No one could have ever imagined that Punjab, a traditionally pro-establishment province, would one day challenge the establishment and stand with a political leader.

So the question then arises, is this the end for the deep state? The answer is not clear. The power and resources the invisible forces have at their disposal are unmatchable, and if Sharif can win this battle, this will be history in the making. To do so he will need the support of the masses on the ground. Will he be able to launch an effective agitation movement, and will the invisible forces allow him to go to that extent?

The other way to push the invisible forces is to bring new legislation into the National Assembly against disqualifying elected representatives. This would again lead to confrontation. It seems that both the invisible forces and Sharif have burned their boats and only one of them will survive. The problem is that this battle for survival will only weaken the federation and the state. Elected representatives have always been portrayed as villains, but for the first time, it is the invisible forces and their allies who have been deemed part of the problem, not the solution.

While Baluchistan is burning and the voices of dissenting youth rise in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the protests in Punjab could make the situation deteriorate further, and even Sharif will not then be able to control the situation and outcome if he launches a campaign of agitation.

The deep state exists in almost all the countries in the world, but generally, it has drawn a certain red line that it never crosses. In contrast, the deep state in Pakistan has drawn a line for all the other players and if they try to cross it, it can go to any extent. The red line needs to be redefined, and as in the civilized world, this red line should belong to the elected representatives, not to the deep state.

Yes, the presence of the deep state cannot be negated and unfortunately will continue to exist, but not with hegemony on state affairs. It is time to make a good choice and leave the business of policymaking to the elected representatives.

After all, with all the pessimism called “reality” or taking a “practical approach” in corporate culture and a corporation-dominated world, the truth still remains that states are always successfully ruled and run by the elected representatives of the people, not by non-state actors or the state within the state that is referred to as the deep state.

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar is a columnist/commentator for newspapers. He is associated with TV channels, radio, newspapers, news agencies, and political, policy and media related think-tanks.

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