Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Photo: Wikipedia
Former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf has escaped justice and enjoys a comfortable life in exile. Photo: Wikipedia

Last year, a fake video went viral on social media in India purporting that a “civil war” had broken out in Karachi, Pakistan. The event raised questions not only on the credibility of Indian media but also genuine fears about the real possibility of a civil war in Pakistan. 

There are actualities that could possibly lead Pakistan into a civil war. First is the functioning of a feudal society that restricts equality and limits ordinary people’s progress in education and intellectual growth. 

Second is the uninterrupted furtherance of a colonial legacy in Pakistan that empowers the bureaucracy and establishment to the extent that civil servants have become feudal lords in uniforms. 

Actually, it’s a nexus of all the influential groups within Pakistani society.  

So, what really causes civil war? Experts offer various reasons that could potentially “fuel a civil war.” For example, a World Bank report suggests that “it is due to economic inequalities or to a deep-rooted legacy of colonialism.” Once a civil war starts, it is “difficult to end.”

Though bad governance, corruption and poverty are certainly factors that can stir hatred and violence in any society, inequality and injustice are the main components that drive a society into civil war. 

Previously, Pakistan experienced the consequences of a civil war that resulted in the foundation of Bangladesh. 

Now, if a civil war starts in Pakistan how will India react to it? A helping hand to curb it, or would India fan the fire? Sunil Dasgupta’s analysis “How will India respond to civil war in Pakistan?” reveals some worrying concerns, as India did in fact support separatists in the erstwhile East Pakistan.  

Many experts have warned several nations against sleepwalking into civil war – a timely caution. So let’s talk about Pakistan. 

Failing to address injustice 

Many civilians have died in custody of Pakistan’s security institutions, particularly in troublesome areas of Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Amnesty International has revealed shocking data on “torture and death in police custody” in Pakistan. 

 Yet many corrupt Pakistani politicians, bureaucrats, generals, industrialists, and media pundits are enjoying luxurious lives. Think of Pervez Musharraf.

The man whose policies gave rise to extremism in Pakistan, for instance the attack on the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) and killing of Baloch tribal chief Nawab Akbar Bugti that “sparked fury and fears of war,” is enjoying a luxurious life abroad.

Since the death of Bugti, Balochistan is burning. Call it foreign involvement to destabilize Pakistan or local insurgency, but sadly, ordinary people are paying the price.

Meanwhile, people like Majeed Achakzai, a former Balochistan provincial lawmaker, was cleared of all charges in a hit-and-run case that killed a poor traffic warden on duty; Rangers personnel “get presidential pardon over youth’s killing”; and the list goes on of apparent miscarriage of justice. 

This is surely a failure of a judicial system that hardly ever protects the weak but always stands up to defend the strong. But despite this, there are few signs of resistance in Pakistan. Systematically oppressed, Pakistanis are afraid of raising their voices against injustice.  

This is evidence that colonialism is still alive and thriving in Pakistan.   

Seventy-three years since independence, Pakistan is still failing its purpose of existence. It’s not an Islamic welfare state nor a democracy or liberal state. Instead, it has become an “intolerant society.” The moment someone questions the policymakers, he or she will be labeled a foreign agent, a traitor, or disloyal. 

The ability to challenge or think comes with education, and at this moment education is not a priority in Pakistan.  

Writer and journalist Tariq Ali has explained how colonial masters appointed elites who shaped an education system that serves their interests and produce deaf and blind people, not thinkers. Ali believed the Pakistani state “failed to forge a national identity” while its leaders are unable and unwilling to “address the country’s poverty and inequality” while the military has a role in “the country’s spiral toward violence and disunity.”  

How can Pakistan avoid civil war? 

Imaan Mazari-Hazir wrote in the Daily Times, “By ignoring the genuine grievances of the Pakhtun, Baloch and Muhajirs in Pakistan, the establishment is repeating the same mistakes it made that led to the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971.”

The culture of favoritism and nepotism aids systematic corruption, injustice, and the inequality ultimately destroys society. 

It is time to listen to the youth of Pakistani, because PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) came to power on a one-point agenda: establishing a fair and just society inspired by an early Islamic state in Medina guarantees social welfare, equal rights, and justice. Was that a joke? 

Not a single promise has been met. Today, Pakistan is controlled by mafias, and some of them are far stronger than the government. Evidence shows a close connection among mafias, politicians, state institutions, and government officials. 

So what next? Pakistan is neither an Islamic state nor a truly independent democracy. 

Is the country heading toward a new system of governance, as the former director general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General Hameed Gul believed?

When resentment converts into violence, it will lead to a civil war.   

Irfan Raja

Irfan Raja has studied international journalism at the University of Leeds. Also, he has received a PhD from the University of Huddersfield. He is a campaigner, volunteer, activist and freelance journalist. He was an envoy of the University of Leeds during several events hosted by the National Union of Journalists from 2006-2009.