What Pakistan’s economic and political chaos may foretell?

Pakistan in economic and political crisis
People jostle to buy subsidized sacks of wheat-flour from a sale point in Quetta, Pakistan as Pakistan faces deep economic and political instability ( Photo: AP)

Pakistan is deep in political and economic crisis. In a state that claims to be an Islamic Republic, power has remained concentrated in its Army. Many reasons can be listed why Pakistan could not consolidate democratic form of government. A state raised on religious plank must perforce submit to the overarching authority of the ecclesiastical establishment. Islam and its law (sharia) are at variance with the Westminster type democracy. The deep contradiction can be highlighted by the first radio broadcast of Mr MA Jinnah, the founder of a new state for Indian Muslims. For nearly half a century he fought for a separate state for the Muslims of India on the plea that Hindus and Muslims were two religious communities diametrically opposite to each other in regard to ideology, culture, language, life style, aspirations, et al. He propounded the two-nation theory and averred that they could never live together. But in his first broadcast from Radio Pakistan in Karachi he said now that the new state of Pakistan has become a reality, all of its citizens, to whatever faith and religion they belong, are equal before the law and can observe their religion and ways of worship as they like.

The question is if that was going to be the considered domestic policy of the Islamic State, what then was the justification for demanding a separate homeland for the Muslims of India? Jinnah did not realize that instilling millions of muslims of Pakistan with the lurking guilt of a divided personality would weaken the fabric of the contemplated Islamic State.  He was harshly criticised by the clerical segment of the new state for his controversial statement.

With the murder of Liaqat Ali Khan, the first prime minister of Pakistan, and a mohajir of non-Punjabi ethnicity, it was firmly established that the Punjabi ethnic community was determined to keep the power within the group and not allow any other ethnic group to aspire for the same. It was this monopolistic culture of the Punjabi group that speeded up separation of Bangladesh from the Pakistan mainland. The repercussion of separation of Bangladesh was that the Punjabi ethnic group consolidated its ranks so that further division of Pakistan was stonewalled.  In no case were the other ethnic groups or nationalities to be given any space, politically, administratively or economically.

This also meant conceding more and more power to the strong segment of religious fanatics and rabid conservatives so that the Punjabi-led power structure derived full support from the illiterate and ignorant masses of people. Thus, we have dozens of big and small extremists groups in Pakistan god-fathered by the Army, landlords and the bureaucracy triumvirate.  

After gathering strength and power, the Islamabad regimes found that the masses could be kept on its side by feeding them with anti-India and anti-Hindu propaganda. The conspiracy of launching a proxy war in Kashmir through its jihadist establishment or the Mumbai and other attacks, was hatched with the definite purpose of whipping up anti-India sentiment among the vast populace.

These conspiracies and anti-India mechanisms failed one after another. Falsehood does not withstand the test of history.  Today, Pakistan is on the verge of a failed state. Its domestic policy is in shambles and its foreign policy is pitiful. Its “iron-brother” and OIC braggart fraternity do not come to its rescue. A phenomenon of civil war is threatening Pakistan.IMF imposes harsh and rather unacceptable conditions like the control of  Pakistani nuclear build-up.

In all probability, the only option before the Pakistani authorities is to impose martial law and call the Pakistan-based jihadist establishment to act freely in support of the Army. It will be remembered that the US has, more than once, hinted its apprehension that the jihadists in Pakistan could lay their hands on its nuclear arsenal. Perhaps these elements are under the illusion that the only remedy of Pakistan’s multi-faceted ills is to destroy India. It will be recalled that a former Pakistani minister repeatedly warned that it had nuclear devices of half a kilo weight to pin down the Indians.

This is one theatre of political antagonism where the use of nuclear device is inducted into diplomatic discourse. The second theatre is the scenario of Russia-Ukraine war in which Russia has said that in case Moscow is incapable of meeting the armament superiority of the EU plus the US, it would be left with the only option of using Russia’s nuclear superiority. The third theatre that has recently exacerbated the nuclear narrative is when the UK announced it would be sending depleted nuclear ammunition to Ukraine. Experts say that there is nothing by the name of “depleted nuclear”. They assert that the missile that would pierce the tanks and armour has to be nuclearized.

On the morning of Oct. 28, 1962, the 13 days of the Cuban missile crisis came to an end with a broadcast on Radio Moscow announcing Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s decision to remove Soviet nuclear missiles from Cuba. What President John F. Kennedy referred to as “the final failure” — a nuclear war — had been averted. The events of 1962 may have brought us as close to nuclear war as the world has ever been, but there have been a number of other very close calls involving false alarms and faulty computers.

Since 1945, a combination of prudent leadership, military professionalism, good luck and divine providence has enabled humanity to avoid the use of nuclear weapons. But the continuation of that streak is by no means assured.

Over the past 76 years, nuclear weapon delivery systems have become faster, more powerful and more widespread. Today, there are more than 13,000 nuclear weapons in nine countries. In most of these nations, including the United States and Russia, one person can decide whether to launch them. The risk that a leader will make a terrible decision to use nuclear weapons, or that a terrorist could get one, is growing. Nuclear-armed countries are allowing communications channels to atrophy. Our nuclear weapons and warning systems are facing new cyber-threats. Advances in military technology are proving destabilizing. Nuclear materials and nuclear know-how are spreading. And nuclear states are allowing arms control to wither.

There is also the potential for adversaries, including non-state actors, religious fanatics and terrorists to resort to cyber attacks to disrupt the command and control of nuclear weapons and early-warning systems. The need for urgent action is clear: Each nation with nuclear arms has a responsibility to reduce the risk of nuclear blunder, and nations must work together to eliminate nuclear risks. The risk is more observable in a state steeped in political and economic crisis and almost on the brink of implosion.

To eliminate the nuclear threat posed by a variety of speculations, perhaps President Biden can accelerate efforts to reduce the risk of nuclear use by conducting a review aimed at strengthening nuclear “fail-safe,” the safeguards that could prevent unauthorized, inadvertent or mistaken use of a nuclear weapon, including through false warning of an attack, and challenge other nuclear powers to conduct their own internal reviews.

It is widely believed that Pakistan’s nuclear facility is controlled by the US whether through a secret agreement or through American bossism. There appears a grain of truth in the rumour in the sense that while the US is determined to disallow nuclear capability to Iran, it never raised any objection to Pakistan acquiring nuclear capability particularly through clandestine means. When the world press reported the story of Pakistani nuclear scientist stealing nuclear secrets while working in a laboratory in Netherlands, the American state and its media just overlooked the narrative.

In final analysis it is highly desirable that the US proves its credentials as the watchdog over nuclear proliferation to assure the world that in case of Pakistan’s implosion, its nuclear facility will not be allowed to pass into the hands of the terrorists and jihadists of that country.

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