The raging conflict

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The clean-up operation threatened by multi-directional assaults

 

 

“Don’t bend, don’t water it down, don’t try to make it logical, don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

Franz Kafka

There is a conflict raging on the streets of the country as also in the minds of the people. Bit by bit, it is consuming the ability to engage in a rational discourse and impacting the resolve to put up a fight against the multi-layered and multi-directional onslaught to perpetuate the institution of crime in the country.

Essentially, the conflict is about chiselling the narrative that would evaluate what the state of Pakistan should or shouldn’t have been doing to-date, or should or shouldn’t be doing henceforth. On the one side are stacked the forces of regression which are represented by the dime-a-dozen religious-cum-political mafias and their attendant mosques and seminaries churning out the violence mantra with monotonous frequency that, thanks to the fear syndrome, holds sway over the vast landscape of the country. This also has a bearing on the minds of the illiterate, impoverished and the underprivileged millions who have mostly been fed on the throw-away morsels of the rich and the powerful. Facing these monstrous forces is the shrinking face of those who believe in a liberal and egalitarian polity devoted to realising the genuine ideals of Pakistan’s creation which are sequentially enshrined in the speeches of the Quaid who stood opposed to religion having anything to do with matters of the state.

On the one side are stacked the forces of regression which are represented by the dime-a-dozen religious-cum-political mafias and their attendant mosques and seminaries churning out the violence mantra with monotonous frequency that, thanks to the fear syndrome, holds sway over the vast landscape of the country. This also has a bearing on the minds of the illiterate, impoverished and the underprivileged millions who have mostly been fed on the throw-away morsels of the rich and the powerful. Facing these monstrous forces is the shrinking face of those who believe in a liberal and egalitarian polity devoted to realising the genuine ideals of Pakistan’s creation which are sequentially enshrined in the speeches of the Quaid who stood opposed to religion having anything to do with matters of the state

But, the conflict encompasses another divide. This is the divide between the predominantly inefficient and inept ruling elite that has traditionally occupied all echelons of power through their rigged interventions of gross misrule, and the miniscule minority representing transparency, empowerment of the state institutions and their disentanglement from executive stranglehold, indiscriminate ascendency of the rule of law, elimination of terror in all its hues, colours and manifestations as also its multiple nurseries, aiders and abettors, investment in areas that would contribute to eliminating poverty and improving conditions of the downtrodden on the essential benchmarks of education, health and social welfare, induction of the best talent for every job and improvement of governance at all levels.

Looking at it from a different perspective, this divide is between those who have clung to power in spite of their myriad incapacities and those who have the expertise, competence and capability to rule effectively, but stand deprived because they don’t belong within the domain of those traditionally privileged to rule and who also do not have the comparable ‘weapons’ to dismantle the former’s illicit stranglehold.

There is much noise, much agitation. Logic and reason seem to be irremediably drowning in the guileful sermons of the pulpit, fully backed by the frenzied roars of those rooted in the seats of power. The noise is also about the miseries of the people who take to the streets occasionally for a cathartic battle with the dysfunctional institutions and, by extension, the abominable agents of the state power. In the corridors of corruption, all this is cleverly shrouded in an endless conspiracy of silence leaving little room for truth to be spoken: “Society has become so fake that the truth actually bothers people”

There is much noise, much agitation. Logic and reason seem to be irremediably drowning in the guileful sermons of the pulpit, fully backed by the frenzied roars of those rooted in the seats of power. The noise is also about the miseries of the people who take to the streets occasionally for a cathartic battle with the dysfunctional institutions and, by extension, the abominable agents of the state power. In the corridors of corruption, all this is cleverly shrouded in an endless conspiracy of silence leaving little room for truth to be spoken: “Society has become so fake that the truth actually bothers people”.

The desire to disentangle from the tentacles of regression is hardly visible. Mostly, it is in circles that we see everyone moving with the traditional semantics dominating the discourse. The lines separating right from wrong have faded with time. The reasons can be traced to the deafening silence that is criminally patronised to facilitate the privileged to hang on to power. In the process, multiple tricks are employed including the use of the draconian state machinery and the lure of its exchequer. Given the greed that has overtaken the national conscience, most of the stalwarts of change are found lying by the wayside drunk stiff on the bountiful largesse.

Practically, there is no one around who seems conscious of the systematic degradation that the state and its people have been brutalised with at the hands of those who came to rule at one stage or the other. The rallying call by the corrupt and the decrepit is to lure people to be concerned only with their own pound of flesh. Consequently, there is a concerted push for the supplicants to take their pick from a vast palate of putrid offerings, or else? That is virtually tantamount to legitimising the process of crime and degeneration.

Will the operation, therefore, be reduced to symbolising a conflict between the security organisations on the one hand, motivated by the objective to cleanse Karachi of terror and crime, and the political parties on the other hand with some getting the brunt of the assault simply because they are the ones who have been managing the affairs of the city and the province and whose hands are laced with indelible marks of indulgence in a variety of unlawful activities encompassing extortion, kidnapping, china-cutting, money-laundering, rape and murder?

The operation that started with the launch of Zarb-e-Azb and was later extended to Karachi to deal with urban terrorism has bared the horrific truth about governance. The operation is malevolently projected as being inherently against the ‘democratic’ system with the MQM and the PPP crying hoarse over the dismantling of their exclusive prerogative to run the affairs of the province. From the Rangers’ attempts to busting the terrorist strongholds to arresting the arsonists, extortionists, murderers, rapists and gagging the funding sources of the vast crime syndicate and arresting their masterminds – virtually every move to cleanse the city of Karachi is being projected as an affront to the ‘democratic’ rights of the rulers. There is little heard by way of it being a necessary component of the strategy to rid Karachi of the criminal mafias which have sprouted disdainfully. Some of these can be traced to the kitchen cabinets of the top leaderships of the political outfits that have traditionally held a stranglehold over the city. Virtually no one is willing to acknowledge the deep roots of crime and corruption which have penetrated every institution and which plague every facet of the provincial government.

Will the operation, therefore, be reduced to symbolising a conflict between the security organisations on the one hand, motivated by the objective to cleanse Karachi of terror and crime, and the political parties on the other hand with some getting the brunt of the assault simply because they are the ones who have been managing the affairs of the city and the province and whose hands are laced with indelible marks of indulgence in a variety of unlawful activities encompassing extortion, kidnapping, china-cutting, money-laundering, rape and murder? Ideally, the contemnors would want the operation to be seen as usurpation of the so-called ‘democratic’ rights of the provincial government and its institutions.

The allegations of corruption against the top echelons of the political parties was given added credence by the presentation of a report by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to the Supreme Court (SC) listing the names of three former and one incumbent prime minister, a former president, one former and one incumbent chief minister and ministers among one-hundred-and-fifty senior functionaries of the government who are being investigated for indulgence in unlawful practices. The question is not that NAB has submitted the report since it has not been a voluntary act. It had to do so under incessant pressure from the SC. What needs to be asked, however, is what has the NAB done about the cases and how far have the proceedings progressed? This has to be viewed in the larger perspective of a miserable track record of the accountability organisation in prosecuting the criminals in the past. There are already reports that some influential names including that of the Chairman NAB himself have been mysteriously excluded from the list.

Pakistan presents a vast and contagious breeding ground for crime and corruption because the ones who are most guilty are the ones who have traditionally controlled the instruments of power rendering all institutions of the state under their executive domain. Consequently, there is not even a remote possibility of holding them accountable before law. They are the law onto themselves – the sordid tragedy that the country has been perennially afflicted with!

Pakistan presents a vast and contagious breeding ground for crime and corruption because the ones who are most guilty are the ones who have traditionally controlled the instruments of power rendering all institutions of the state under their executive domain. Consequently, there is not even a remote possibility of holding them accountable before law. They are the law onto themselves — the sordid tragedy that the country has been perennially afflicted with!

The question in Karachi and elsewhere in the country is not about any infringement on the democratic rights of the political incumbents. It is about finding a way to hold the criminals accountable before law irrespective of their profession, position or relative importance in the corridors of power. The ongoing operation became necessary in the wake of abdication of governance by the incumbents and their blatant disinclination to punish the guilty. The reason is obvious: those in power have been the worst offenders of law. The federal government has been giving an impression of siding with this push for accountability so far. But, with dark clouds hanging over their own credibility, it has started exuding mixed vibes as to the nature and extent of its support for the ongoing operation. This emanates from a perceived fear that, sooner or later, the guns would be pointing in their direction also as they have been equally, if not more, guilty of indulgence in multiple forms of corruption and misrule.

The reported initiation of the accountability process within the armed forces also reflects the seriousness and relevance of the ongoing operation. If true, this would establish the credentials of those guiding the process and would also eliminate the prospect of any perceived discrimination. This is definitely no music to the ears of those who are being investigated and whose hands are decidedly tarnished.

The way to resolve the raging conflict is not by allowing the alleged criminals to frustrate the initiative simply by distorting it to look like an infringement on the ‘democratic’ prerogative of the incumbents. It’ll be resolved by continuing to pursue the ongoing operation, vigorously, transparently and indiscriminately, to its logical conclusion leading to the elimination of all terror networks and criminal mafias from all over the country. Yes, from all over the country!