Martial Law Least of Pakistan’s Worries

Posted on November 12, 2007
Filed Under >Irum Sarfaraz, Politics, Society
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Guest Post By Irum Sarfaraz

If the current situation in Pakistan is a source of concern for the rest of the world in the sense that it is increasing the already existing instability of the country, chances are it is less so for the 165 million in the country. For Pakistanis the current martial law translates into the instability of the past decade coming to a head. The martial law imposed by Musharaff is nothing new to a country used to living under military dictatorship; what is new is Pakistan’s current status as the most volatile ‘sitting bomb’ on the face of the earth.

According to Newsweek Oct. 29, 2007 cover story, ‘Where the Jihad Lives Now’, ‘Today no country on earth is arguably more dangerous than Pakistan. It has everything bad guys could ask for: political instability, a trusted network of radical Islamists, an abundance of angry young anti-Western recruits, secluded training areas, access to state-of-the-art electronic technology, regular air service to the West and security services that don’t always do what they are supposed to do’. If this wasn’t enough just add a devious, confirmed nuclear program to the explosive concoction and the world has a global concern on its hands that deposes Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran in its ratings for potential disaster.

Martial Law is ‘been there’, ‘done that’ for Pakistanis. For more than half of Pakistan’s history, the country has been ruled by military dictators with Musharaff the fourth ruler to seize power from a civilian-led government. The excuse for every Martial law has always invariably been that corrupt politicians were endangering the security of the country. At this particular juncture in Pakistan’s history however the security of the nation was already in peril before Musharaff’s martial law with the stamp of the ‘sitting bomb’ on it by the West. Pakistanis aren’t so foolish as to deny that the real threat is that this label of extremism is what is going to sink it, whether it is under the martial law or under any other democratically elected government of Musharaff or Benazir or anyone else. At this point there is no obvious solution to the extremist issue that has developed like a formidable disease over the years from the ‘inherited’ catastrophic Afghani genes that sunk the neighbor Afghanistan. So at this point, who cares about a Martial law when war, civil or external, is imminent? It might seem a very pessimistic view but unless even the pessimistic sides of the picture are acknowledged, they cannot be fixed. One might ask why now with this particular martial law would Pakistanis be suddenly concerned with the issue of national security, particularly from external elements? The answer is not too complicated. The US had given Musharaff, and Pakistan in retrospect, much leeway due to his full cooperation in the ‘war against terror’. Much as the majority of Pakistani resented the interference of the West in the internal policies of the country they were forced to, even if resentfully, acknowledge that keeping the US happy helps to keep the charade of security running. With Musharaff suddenly changing gears by imposing Martial law, the US and its allies are suddenly not so thrilled anymore. It would be hard to imagine how under the development of these severely dissatisfying circumstances, the US would be still be willing to let this charade continue. Musharaff had taken on the dutiful job of searching out Bin Laden and had reassured the West that the task would be handled satisfactorily. With Musharaff running in reverse gear now, who is going to take over the role of the dutiful pet? Much as the truth hurts, the US just might decide to complete the job itself that Musharaff got sidetracked with in his ambitions to continue his rule by imposing martial law. The martial law is not the ultimate calamity here; it just might be that proverbial last nail in the coffin or the straw that broke the camels’ back.

Then the question why these concerns now if the county is as used to martial law and political instability as evident from it history? Pakistan is a weak nation still struggling to get properly on its feet even 60 years after independence from India, insomuch as being declared a ‘failed state’. It is at the top of the second annual, ‘Failed State Index’ list compiled by The Fund for Peace and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The definition of a failed or failing state according to the index is ‘one in which the government does not have effective control of its territory, is not perceived as legitimate by a significant portion of its population, does not provide domestic security or basic public services to its citizens and lacks a monopoly on the use of force. The status of Pakistan being a failed state poses more an issue for the people within the borders as that is the one prime weakness that opens all doors for outside elements to strike to free themselves of any fears that they face from Pakistan, whether it is India forever adamant to resolve the Kashmir issue or whether it is the US and its allies trying to seek out Bin laden and to douse the storm of extremism in the area. The current upheaval in the ‘constitution-less’ country makes it an easy target for a wide range of external elements to gain ground. The current state of rebellion, chaos and disorder in the country is the result of already present internal elements such as the militant Islamist groups originally recruited, trained and armed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI). These groups are now considered Islamabad’s deadliest enemy nearly succeeding twice in assassinating Musharaff who used to among their strongest supporters. Pakistanis are used to these internal ‘anarchists’. It is the external ones they dread and this current state of political upheaval leaves the country ‘free for all’.

Critics claim that any hope for Pakistan out of its present situation is a swift return to an elected government and the return of the army to its barracks by taking into account the history of bitterness of the people repressed and betrayed by the unaccountability of the former military dictators. Though for these critics the only solution out of the present quagmire is to embrace democracy and a politics governed by the priority of meeting the long denied needs to the people, it needs to be realized that it may be too late for all these fairy tales.

Pakistan is no longer an isolated island in the middle of nowhere the problems of which can be fixed by clear cut solutions such as offered by ‘democracy’, ‘elected government’ and ‘ousting dictators’. Pakistan is a sitting bomb with its pin half out, ready to explode in the face of Washington. Pakistan is an issue to which half the world is demanding urgent solutions as it is jeopardizing their own safety and placing their security in peril. Needless to say, the current Martial law is the least of Pakistan’s worries at this point

About The Author: Irum Sarfaraz is a free lance writer from California.

Photo Credits: Title photo is by Abro

88 responses to “Martial Law Least of Pakistan’s Worries”

  1. Rafay Kashmiri says:

    @ a good one,

    our dilema is :

    Syasatda’n kehlatay hein jinko, syasat hi nehien atti
    Qiadat kartay hein , jinko Qiadat hi nehein atti !!!

  2. Irum Sarfaraz says:

    Beautiful piece of poetry. One of my favorites.
    A message to all our politicians….

    khudrat nay un ko atta kee hai khawajagee kay jinhain
    khabar naheen rawish-e banda parwari kiya hai….

  3. Rafay Kashmiri says:

    @Irum Sarfaraz,

    I hope you do have some notions of Urdu peotry,

    BB complaining to Mushy,

    Wo jo ham mein tum mein qarar tha,
    tumhein yad ho kay ne yad ho
    Wohi ya’ni wa’adah nibah ka,
    tumhein yad ho ke ne yad ho
    Kabhi hum mein tum mein bhi chah thi,
    kabhi hum ko tum say bhi rah thi
    Kabhi hum bhi tum say thay ashna,
    tumhein yad ho kay ne yad ho
    Jisay ap kehtay thay bawafa,
    jisay app gintay thay bawafa …………

    comprendo ???

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