Unholy Alliance Of Dumb Generals And Criminal Politicians In Pakistan

Developing Just Leadership

Waseem Shehzad

Sha'ban 20, 1445 2024-03-01

News & Analysis

by Waseem Shehzad (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 54, No. 1, Sha'ban, 1445)

Image Source - Pixbay Free Content

Despite the generals’ mother of all riggings in the February 8 elections in Pakistan, all they achieved was to reinstall the same bunch of criminals back in power. There was massive pre- and post-poll rigging. This will be discussed shortly but first let us look at what the dumb generals cooked up as the new dispensation.

With a mixed bag of seats allocated to various political parties and no party with a clear majority, it was imperative to cobble together a coalition. Through massive rigging Imran Khan party Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf’s (PTI) majority was stolen.

The aim was to deny the PTI-backed bloc, the largest in parliament, from forming the next government. Thus, an assortment of criminals, thieves and murderers was brought together into a coalition to form the post-election regime.

Shahbaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) would be the prime minister while Asif Ali Zardari has been promised the presidency as well as a number of other posts to his Pakistan Peoples’ Party. The Karachi-based MQM-P is also included in the generals’ approved coalition.

Most commentators promptly dubbed it as PDM-2.0 in reference to the earlier regime illegitimately installed by the generals in April 2022 after Imran Khan was ousted from power. PDM stands for the Pakistan Democratic Movement. It is neither democratic nor a movement. PDM comprises family-based parties whose only legitimacy derives from what the army confers upon them. What would these geniuses achieve in the new dispensation that they failed to achieve in their previous stint as rulers?

When Imran Khan was ousted from power on April 9, 2022 through an army-engineered but American-dictated plot, Pakistan was doing reasonably well. The GDP was growing at more than 6 percent; exports had risen and foreign remittances were at an all-time high, thanks to the trust overseas Pakistanis had in Imran Khan.

The thieves and murderers that the army installed in power quickly destroyed everything. Food and fuel prices skyrocketed, foreign remittances declined precipitously and exports dried up. The country’s foreign exchange reserves today stand at less than $4 billion, enough only to cover two months’ imports.

Pakistan faces two inter-related challenges: political instability and economic meltdown. As a consequence of the generals’ illegal interference in politics, there is great instability. This leads to economic instability because investors lose confidence in the country.

It was the late French President Charles De Gaulle who had said that Americans are capable of doing the most stupid things imaginable. And then added, also those that are unimaginable.

De Gaulle’s observations apply equally to the Pakistani generals in more ways than one. Take the February 8 elections to the national and provincial assemblies. There was massive pre-poll rigging, thanks to billions of rupees the two dynastic parties—PML-N and PPP—dished out to the generals.

The greedy generals quickly demonstrated their stupidity; they mishandled the electoral process in the clumsiest of ways. If people ask what the generals have to do with elections, they have a point. The generals have no business in politics or any other affair of the state. They have, however, arrogated to themselves the right to be the sole decision-makers of all state matters. There is no legal basis for their over-bearing attitude but since they have the guns, they browbeat everyone else into submission.

The huge turnout of masses on election day thwarted the generals’ plan. They wanted to reinstall Nawaz Sharif, a venal character and a certified crook who was imported from Britain, in power. It was Imran Khan’s PTI, or candidates backed by his party, who won the largest number of seats in the national assembly and three of the four provincial assemblies.

With the failure of their pre-poll rigging, the generals decided to steal the people’s mandate through post-poll rigging. PTI-backed candidates who were winning by margins of 30,000 to 50,000 votes woke up the next morning to find they had lost by 50,000 votes. Video footage of army personnel barging into polling stations where votes were being counted were seen on social media platforms. They beat up and then pushed the PTI-backed candidates’ agents out of polling stations and took the ballot boxes away. PTI had been denied its cricket bat symbol, as part of pre-poll rigging, so its candidates ran as independents!

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), supposedly an impartial body tasked with conducting the elections was anything but. It took orders from the army and eagerly facilitated rigging. Based on such rigging, PML-N, the party headed by Nawaz Sharif, hence the hyphen ‘N’) was given 75 seats when it only won about 15-20 seats in the national assembly.

The PPP, another family-run franchise of the Zardari-Bhutto combine, was given 54 seats. Their actual seats were around 30. A third party, the Karachi-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement-P (MQM-P) was given 17 seats, almost all of them stolen from PTI. Interestingly, the PTI was given 93 seats when its actual total was more than 180 seats in the national assembly.

Following this fraud, there was several days of political wrangling. Nawaz Sharif had returned to Pakistan on the generals’ promise whom he had bribed, that he would become the prime minister for the fourth time. He was thrice ousted from power because he had committed massive fraud and money-laundering.

This came to light through the Panama Papers. The courts had no choice but to convict him. His hopes were dashed and now he sits in his palatial home in Jatee Umra, near Lahore, sulking and blaming the generals for betraying him by failing to give his party a clear majority.

For nearly 76 years, the generals have brow-beaten politicians into submission. Most are thoroughly corrupt anyway. Their over-riding concern is to be in power, regardless of what compromises they have to make or how many generals’ boots they have to lick, to steal state resources.

Imran Khan turned out to be cut from a different cloth. He is upright and honest. He wants to serve the people not lord over them. In his personal life, despite his celebrity status—he was a cricket star—he is down to earth and insists on following an independent foreign policy. All these qualities made him unpopular with the army and more particularly the Americans who are the real masters of Pakistan. He refused to take orders from the army or follow America’s agenda.

The Yankees have historically manipulated Pakistan’s policies through the military. As the most organized force in the country, the Americans prefer to work through them. The generals succumb to US pressure because they get bakhsheesh in dollars, A fistful of dollars can do wonders in Pakistan.

The pre-poll rigging consisted of arresting thousands of PTI members, preventing PTI-backed candidates from filing their nomination papers and even denying the party its symbol (the cricket bat). In a society where illiteracy is high, most voters identity their candidate through the party symbol.

Imran Khan and his deputy Shah Mahmood Qureshi were arrested and barred from contesting elections. Both face a slew of charges.

Imran has been slapped with nearly 200 charges, all of them completely bogus. He languishes in a stinking jail cell but refuses to comprise with the goons in uniform.

As election results started to trickle in on the night of February 8, it became clear that PTI-backed candidates had swept the polls and had secured more than two-thirds majority in the national assembly. PTI had also won in three of the four provinces, making a clean sweep in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province.

By midnight, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), suspended election result announcements. The law requires that results must be announced by 2 am the day after the election. No such announcement was made; not even by 10 am of February 9, which is the maximum time period allowed for such results.

The criminals, thieves and murderers installed in power have no program to get Pakistan out of its predicament. Their only recourse is to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package of $6 billion. It will come with stringent conditions whose ill-effects will be borne by the already poor masses.

The elites—generals, judges, landlords, industrialists and bureaucrats—pilfer $17.4 billion annually through a legal cover. They pay no taxes but get free houses, cars, servants, gasoline and electricity. What have they done to deserve such privileges?

Pakistan needs $28 billion this year to pay the interest on its debt. Within the next three years, it must pay $75 billion. Nobody has the faintest clue where such huge sums will come from.

The generals and their puppets politicians don’t care. All they want is to prevent being dragged to courts for the grand larceny they have indulged in. And they keep printing Pakistani rupees to pay the salaries of government employees while inflation continues to rise uncontrollably putting an unbearable burden on ordinary people.

Pakistan’s future looks grim. The only choice left for the masses is to come out in the streets and snatch their rights by force. Failing that Pakistan is heading toward, God forbid, disintegration.

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