Pakistan is neither independent, Islamic nor democratic

Jahangir Mohammed, Director of Ayaan Institute, says Pakistanis have little to celebrate on Independence Day as the military and the two dynastic families who rule the nation have virtually destroyed it.

As the Pakistani state starts another Independence Day celebration on August 14, Pakistanis face one of the darkest moments in their 76 year history. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that the country is facing almost insurmountable political, economic and human rights crises.

For example, Pakistan is on a permanent lifeline of international loans – from the IMF, Gulf state rulers and China. Its politicians are mired in corruption scandals and machinations for power. And political parties spend their time waging vendettas against members of other parties instead of reforming the system and ruling in the interests of the people.

Pakistan masquerades as a democracy behind which its military rules. Political science would refer to this as a “hybrid regime,” a combination of democratic and military autocracy. But it’s not even that. In reality, it’s a two-family dynasty behind which the real rulers of Pakistan – the military – rule through current and retired army generals, who seem to be attached to every institution.

The army and the two dynastic parties (the Bhuttos and the Sharifs) have managed to disrupt and effectively eliminate the largest membership political party, PTI, from the next election scheduled for later this year. Its most popular politician and former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been imprisoned on trumped-up charges so he can’t run. Other PTI leaders have been imprisoned or intimidated into defecting.

The way all this has been done in the last 18 months since Imran Khan was removed from power would put a Banana Republic to shame. There has been a total subversion of due process, rule of law and justice by intimidating and manipulating the judiciary, media and law enforcement agencies.

What’s more, the judiciary has shown that they are not independent or resilient enough to deliver justice. Pakistan’s media have also mastered the art of propaganda and outright lying for the two dynastic families, and have surrendered to threats from the military to wage a war against the PTI and Imran Khan.

Sign up for regular updates straight to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated on the latest news and updates from around the Muslim world!

The military, which once had some respectability as a neutral and honest broker between politicians, has lost its authority and legitimacy. It now resorts to propaganda videos to restore its credibility and authority, and is setting out economic plans as if is also a political party.

Human rights have been violated in every sphere of life – from protests to freedom of expression. Thousands of people have been brutalised, victimised, arrested, imprisoned or disappeared without any due process. So it’s not surprising that Pakistanis are leaving the country in record numbers.

Thanks to the leaked cipher of Pakistan’s U.S. ambassador, we now know the United States was unhappy with Imran Khan and the direction he was taking the country. And Pakistan’s military have capitulated without much resistance. Recent decisions, including a 15-year military pact with the U.S., show its leaders are veering back into the American fold.

Army chief General Asim Munir. Pic: Inter Services Public Relations Pakistan

The extent to which the country’s military is prepared to go to keep the United States happy, in dread of isolation and potential loss of benefits, reveals a character not befitting any decent army or leaders. However, it’s not surprising as this is a military that has been serving the interests of the United States, rather than its own people, for at least the last 44 years.

In the actions of just the last 18 months, the two family/military rule has destroyed the economy and sent millions more people into poverty. So who would be foolish enough to do business or invest in this country amid such instability and chaos? By 2050 Pakistan’s population is estimated to reach over 300 million, but how are they going to feed this population? The Pakistani people are hardworking creative and committed to their faith, but they have been badly let down by those who rule them.

The level of lying, cheating, scheming and disregard for basic justice has made most Pakistanis feel ashamed and embarrassed by the behaviour of their country’s leaders and institutions. And where is Islam in all this behaviour? This is a country whose constitution says no law should supersede the law of Allah and takes pride in Islam. But where in the Quran or Shari’ah does it say that all this is permissible? Even Machiavelli would have marvelled at the machinations of Pakistani politicians and rulers.

This all raises the question of why the religious scholars and parties in Pakistani society are not condemning and calling out what is happening. And if they don’t call out right from wrong when it is obvious for all to see and offer the people guidance, then who will do so?

The truth is that Pakistan is neither Islamic, democratic nor independent. It is a military republic and dictatorship. The land of the “pure” has become mired in impurity and filth and only a deep cleanse of all its institutions can restore it to health. There really is not much for Pakistanis to celebrate on “Independence Day.”

Add your comments below

Previous articleNews reviewer gives 5Pillars maximum credibility and transparency score
Next articleReflections on my illuminating visit to Afghanistan