Apr 13: Pashtun Tahafuz Movement and South Punjab Soba Mahaz by Abdul Q Kundi

These days two events are being discussed. First Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) and second South Punjab Soba Mahaz. Apparently, they may not be linked but they point towards our approach to managing the country. Throughout our history, we have defied basic political principles which have ultimately resulted in chaos and even division of the country. Here are some of those principles in relation to where we stand today:

1. It is an established principle for ages that presence of military for long-term causes civil unrest and political instability. But in Pakistan, we defy this principle repeatedly and expect that the outcome would be different. Deployment of the military in Balochistan, FATA, or Karachi at various times for the long-term caused political crisis. But we refused to learn. PTM is the result of the failure of the politician rather than the military. The military did its job of eradicating terrorist safe heaven and suicide factories. As soon as that objective was achieved politicians should have taken control of the situation to deliver governance and returned soldiers to the barracks.

2. Regionalism weakens federation. PTM is blamed to be an engineered protest but at the same time, many are also alleging that Balochistan Awami Party and South Punjab Soba Mahaz are politically engineered outfits that are meant to ensure divide and rule. These regional parties will make promises that they will never be able to keep resulting in further resentment towards the state. We keep forgetting that only national parties can ensure that the country remains united and progress. But the dilemma is that national parties have become cults or family enterprises. The need is to develop national parties that are institutions. No one seems to be interested in that so the federation will remain weak in the foreseeable future.

3. Another principle is that domestic civic movements should remain domestic and lose legitimacy as soon as they issue a threat to approach foreign powers or organizations for help. Civic activism that is apolitical and cause-focused is very important for a dynamic society. But we tend to lose it when purely indigenous movements threaten to reach out to foreign institutions. We have seen that play out in Karachi, Balochistan, and now in PTM. When a state is threatened then there is no way the movement can be allowed to continue and all such movements eventually fail or in extreme cases result in civil war benefitting no one but foreign powers. At the same time not every domestic movement is a foreign conspiracy. It is important that their genuine grievances should be addressed.

4. The contradictory political position results in the social injustice that eventually causes civil unrest. Most politicians at one point or the other supported the creation of South Punjab province but did not support the same when demands were made about the division of Sind, the creation of Hazara province etc. This contradictory posturing has resulted in resentments and caused regionalism. We have to define a national principle for the creation of provinces and apply it uniformly throughout the country. Our failure to do so would result in eventual Balkanization of Pakistan sooner or later purely based on internal dynamics without any foreign catalyst. We must realize that our provinces are so large that they are ungovernable. These provinces promote ethnic identities although most are heterogeneous rather than homogeneous.

Bottom line is that we are a badly managed country because our leaders in all walks of life are incapable to deal with crisis and address needs of the time. They made bad choices that result in further erosion of the state. Our politicians, judges, generals, and bureaucrats all have failed to live up to the expectations of the nation. Their tribal interests take precedence over our national interests. Politicians carry the most blame as they are supposed to stand up, lead and make right decisions. The crisis we have today can only be corrected when the voice of people is allowed to prevail in politics and all institutions work within their constitutionally mandated boundaries.

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