Fractured state

Published April 6, 2023

THE list of disappointments runs long while turmoil rips through the highest echelons of power. When it comes to the mess the country faces, no one is above blame — neither the government, nor the opposition; neither the executive, nor the ‘establishment’; and, lastly, not the judiciary or the two factions it has divided itself into.

We have a verdict — the right one though rendered controversial because of the debatable composition of the bench — from the highest court, yet, nobody truly believes it will be implemented.

The legislature and executive have made it clear they will not listen to the judiciary, and the judiciary has made it clear it is not interested in listening to anyone at all.

Within the judiciary, a smouldering civil war threatens to turn into a blazing inferno, with both factions one-upping each other with tit-for-tat power moves. Watching their struggle unfold is like witnessing one’s elders fight — horrifying and pitiable.

Is this the end of the Pakistan we have known? Is this the Götzen-Dämmerung — the twilight of our false idols? The wise and powerful have fallen off their high pedestals. Those once considered ‘national leaders’ appear bereft of ideas and helpless against the vortices sucking the country towards a dark void.

Be they judges, generals, bureaucrats or politicians — all are so consumed by their selfish power struggles that they seem not to care that Armageddon is almost upon us. Meanwhile, the people are being frog-marched to their doom as they pray desperately for a saviour to appear.

It is difficult to escape these troubling contemplations amidst the madness that has gripped the country lately. It is not that there is no solution. But it lies — has always lain — in the hands of those responsible for the current situation. The judiciary must immediately begin a rapprochement between its bickering factions.

The judges must work out their differences and agree to disagree while remaining within the bounds of reason and respectability. The PDM government, especially the PML-N, must put a stop to its confrontation with the judiciary.

It is missing the forest for the trees: friendly judges are not going to elect it to power, the people will, and those people are right now crying from hunger and destitution, not judicial overreach. The PTI must stop its ceaseless confrontations and give dialogue a chance.

It must stop prevaricating and provide a clear promise that it is willing to sit down and find a way out, even if it means making difficult sacrifices or compromises. Lastly, the military establishment must steer clear of political meddling and let the others find a way out.

There may yet be time to steer the country away from total disaster, but that can only happen once the powerful agree that the powerless have suffered enough.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2023

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