May 23, 2019 Dr. Niaz Murtaza Comments Off on Cornered tigers?
Dr. Niaz Murtaza
Facing imminent exit from the ’92 World Cup, Imran spurred his team to cup victory through his famous “cornered tigers” speech. Today too, his PTI team is cornered, and is struggling badly to govern properly. It competes closely with BB’s first era for the title of our most incompetent and clueless set-up ever. To be fair, BB was only in her early thirties. Imran is in his late sixties and has the Punjab set-up and the kingmakers with him, unlike her. The PML-N created the current economic mess. But PTI has made it and other matters worse. The opposition teams are haranguing it, the crowd is booing and the infamous umpire is reportedly miffed too.
Can Imran rally his PTI team to bounce back as cornered tigers now too to deliver on the tall tabdeeli promises or at least complete its term? The prognosis is much grimmer today and the first option can be virtually dismissed. Imran was an ace player and captain and the team boasted other aces too. Today, Imran himself is a novice in this much tougher job and his team and even its bench strength are mere toothless tigers. To overcome PTI’s incompetence, Imran is now importing technocratic players for almost all key posts, like a T20 franchise team owner. But the importees have their own agendas and loyalties and can’t blend into a cohesive team to deliver on PTI’s agenda. Imran seems marginalized and the PTI members even more so in the new cabinet. The PTI’s and Imran’s reputation as icons of hope and change lies tattered irreparably.
The more realistic issue then is whether the PTI can even complete its term. Amazingly, just within nine months, even many of its avid right-wing allied pundits are expressing doubts here. The opposition is threatening agitation after Eid. It is certainly the opposition’s right to push peacefully for an inquiry about the credibility of the highly flawed 2018 polls or highlight PTI’s failures via peaceful street events. But trying to dislodge a regime based on performance within a year is absurd even by Pakistani politics norms, and it should be opposed. The opposition’s own divisions, poor track-records and legal woes also call into question their motivations and success chances.
But to evidentially view PTI’s survival chances, one must review the 1990s decade which saw many premature demises of regimes elected via dubious polls rigged by the deep state. All four regimes then were removed, not by opposition’s agitation, but via 58(2)B and coup by the deep state over policy tussles. But the PTI’s weak performance will make it even more unlikely to challenge it. PTI could still incur the deep state’s axe if its performance falls further. But the technocrats brought in, many by the deep state, will not deliver tabdeeli but will at least ward off a governance meltdown that PTI itself may have caused. Thus, the technocratic infusion can be seen as an attempt by the deep state to resuscitate its failing puppet regime and send out a signal of support. This then leaves alliance split as the main PTI threat. But even here the deep state acts as glue, as most PTI allies follow its dictates.
Thus, the PTI faces no major threat of early removal unless the new team fails badly. But still the fact that it can’t deliver on tabdeeli and is surviving on crutches is not mainly an indictment of PTI but more so of the imagination and capacity of the deep state. For long it has arrogantly seen itself as the final arbiter of politics even though by training or law, it has neither capacity nor legitimacy to do so. Over the decades, it has produced one failed governance experiment after another. Yet there is no end to its cocky tricks. Governance refers to the structures of joint decision-making and implementation in a society. The more cohesive a society, the better is its governance. But societies like ours have deep horizontal (race, ethnicity and faith) and vertical (class and caste) axes of divisions which structurally cause poor governance. But beyond these globally common axes, we have a third artificial axis of division–the institutional one. Democracy globally is the best antidote for healing the two natural axes of divisions and attaining better governance. But in Pakistan, this third axis hinders the application of this antidote to create more political instability.
This third axis has no plans to exit politics. But as this latest attempt to control politics, by placing a dummy regime on the high padestal of power, fails to deliver too despite the best efforts of the kingmakers, one is reminded of a nursery rhyme that aptly depicts our current political mess:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
And all the king(maker)’s horses and all the king(maker)’s men
Could not put Humpty Dumpty together again
The gods of fate have a wicked sense of humor. When they want to harm someone, they make their dreams come true but then quickly turn them into nightmares. Much the same is happening with our deep state.
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