Almost a year has passed since the military-backed political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came to power through the rigged general elections of 2018. It can be termed as a year of chaos where the economy of Pakistan saw the worst decline of the decade and the country was sent into the worst form of political instability. If that were not enough, the recent move by India of repealing Article 370 of its constitution, which has virtually ended the position of Jammu and Kashmir as a semi-autonomous state, has dented the Pakistani establishment very badly.
The establishment for the past 70 years has been shaping foreign policy and had complete hegemony over inventing the political, religious and social narratives of the country. The establishment always focused on Kashmir, which remained the main point of the shaping of foreign policy and religious and social narratives.
Youth in Pakistan were brainwashed to such an extent that even the most educated minds thought that one day Pakistan would occupy the Indian side of Kashmir through banned outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba or with a conventional war. However, now that the special status of Jammu and Kashmir is finished and it has been two weeks since the Indian government imposed a curfew in most parts of J&K, the Pakistani military establishment and its puppet civilian government under PTI find themselves in hot water, as the establishment always told the masses that it would never compromise on Kashmir and would fight to the last breath to free Indian Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the right-wing establishment-backed leader Imran Khan, whose politics revolved around the heroics of terming former prime minister Nawaz Sharif a traitor as he had a good relationship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now is trying to fool the masses by the impression that Pakistan scored a diplomatic win over New Delhi after its appeal in the United Nations was heard and a meeting of the Security Council meeting was called exclusively to discuss the situation in Kashmir. It has been declared a diplomatic win in Pakistan, which illustrates the delusional state of the mind of both the establishment and its puppet Imran Khan. The fact is the UNSC did not issue a single joint statement condemning India or siding with Pakistan, and other then China, the other four permanent members of the body were of the view that Pakistan and India should solve this problem with bilateral dialogue.
Now the establishment is finding it hard to convince the masses as to why Pakistan is being left isolated, even by Muslim countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as the world’s superpowers. Pakistan is not in a position to wage a conventional war as its economy is bleeding, and waging a proxy war through outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba is not possible, as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is keeping a close eye on Pakistan. So the situation remains gloomy for the establishment, as it has no option left but to accept that the narratives of jihad liberating Kashmir have collapsed, and now even with the curbs on the media it is almost impossible to hide the facts and ground realities.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who lacks political legitimacy, is of no use for Pakistan or the establishment in getting diplomatic support from the world. So in order to save face, the establishment is using the same old formula of a crackdown against political opponents and through the media trying to highlight the atrocities of India in the Kashmir region. One must agree that India is committing human-rights abuses, but what about Pakistan?
The leaders of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, are still behind bars with no coverage allowed to PTM for its narrative. Maryam Nawaz, the rising heavyweight anti-establishment political figure of one of the most popular political parties, is in jail without being convicted by any court. The same is the case with Faryal Talpur, Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. Not to forget the situation in the areas of the tribal belt of Pakistan and in the province of Balochistan, where thousands of families are searching for their loved ones allegedly kidnapped by law-enforcement agencies without being produced in court.
The atrocities against minorities such as the Ahmadis and the forceful conversion of Hindu girls to Islam are also common in Pakistan. So when Pakistan speaks about human-rights abuses, no one in the world takes it seriously. After all, one has to fix his own house first before pointing fingers at others. This is exactly what Sharif told the military establishment a few years back and as a result not only was he deemed a traitor but he was thrown out of office through one of the most controversial judicial decisions in the country’s history.
The question that now remains is how long the deep state will keep the masses hostage to the delusional state of mind and the rotten and failed narratives of foreign policy and defense matters. It is evident that the narratives based on jihad and extremism did not pay dividends to Pakistan; in fact, they destroyed the social fabric of the country and turned the society into a land of millions of useless minds who other than hating the world on the basis of religion and ethnicity are incapable of thinking that it is the age of conquering the world through education, technology, and strong economy.
Will the deep state realize that Pakistan is being left isolated globally because of its failed foreign policy? Will it realize that Kashmir has gone and it is time to get rid of the rotten narratives of jihad, extremism and waging proxy wars for US dollars and Saudi riyals? Whether the deep state after all this will accept its failures remains the big question. As the country’s economy is continuously bleeding, there is no recipe in sight.
As long as the deep state fails to realize that it is responsible for the woes Pakistan is facing, nothing will change and the journey of traveling in blind circles will continue. The establishment can arrest Sharif, Maryam or Zardari, but it will not solve the economic, political and survival crises, nor will it end the global isolation of Pakistan. More curbs and crackdowns on journalists will also not help. Only the collective wisdom of elected, not selected, representatives of the masses can get Pakistan out of this mess. But will the establishment be willing to end its hegemony over state affairs and stop spreading rotten narratives based on occupying the enemy with the might of gun and jihad, and will it leave off from forming policies on the foreign and domestic fronts?