Raoof Hasan

19th Feb, 2023. 09:30 am

A land, but no law, no respite

It is extremely difficult to fathom what Pakistan is transforming into with painful and ceaseless monotony. There is a consistent fascist streak distinguishing this phase which is unleashed upon anyone who would dare speak the truth. He is immediately targeted and subjected to barbaric and humiliating treatment to drive home the message that the land has been stripped of law and its justice system. It is an environment where being human has become a slur, an abuse, and a grave danger!

The aggravating political turmoil has been worsened by bludgeoning the impoverished millions with unbearable economic burden. The absconder “wizard” clown who was imported from London to put the figures right has hurled the country into a bottomless pit with no one knowing where it would stop to provide even a temporary respite. It appears as if it has been pushed into an unstoppable spin which is going to make the labour of living impossible for most of the people of the country. Virtually every item of use has been subjected to additional duties and taxes, raising their prices beyond the reach of ordinary people. All this is the consequence of the IMF losing faith in the negotiators across the table and the absence of political cohesion among them. There are a million different directions the country is being pulled into with no one having a clue to what they are doing against what is required to be done. Personal profit remains the sole driving motive in this context irrespective of the irremediable damage it may accrue to the health of the state.

Among other reasons which have now allegedly been cited by the former military chief, economic decline under Imran Khan’s government was a principal one. In reality, this was only a fabrication to justify the plan as is amply borne out by the Pakistan Economic Survey, 2021-22, published by the government that he put in place. According to the survey, “the real GDP posted a growth of 5.97 per cent” before Khan left as the economy had “rebounded from the pandemic and continued to post a V-shaped economic recovery which is higher than 5.74 per cent recorded in last year (FY 2021)”. This is a testament to a robust economy which had successfully weathered the adverse effects of Covid and the consequent recessionary trends.

The steep economic decline since the exit of Khan’s government is unfathomable. Not only it reflects a high degree of financial mismanagement; it also speaks of total absence of empathy for the suffering multitudes whose numbers have multiplied astronomically in the last 10 months since this criminal concoction has been at the helm. There is still no agreement in sight with the IMF as they have desired the need for political reconciliation as a means for ensuring the sustainability of the extended fund facility. The All-Parties Conference (APC) that was scheduled for February 7, ostensibly for forging a broad consensus among political adversaries, was first postponed to February 9 which has since been put off indefinitely, thus indicating a broadening gulf separating the government from the opposition ranks. The government’s energies are singularly directed towards eliminating Khan either by having him declared ineligible or targeting him physically.

The focus seems to be on either postponing the elections, or not holding them altogether. This emanates from the fear that the ruling conglomerate suffers of a thrashing that they are likely to be administered at the hustings. The elections for the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, dissolved almost a month ago, which were supposed to be held within a maximum of 90 days, have still not been announced with the governors of the two provinces and the chief election commissioner persistently refusing to fulfil their constitutional obligations. Despite there being no ambiguity in the relevant laws in this regard, and the order of the Lahore High Court that elections should be held strictly within the timeframe contained in the constitution and comments from the Supreme Court regarding the need to strictly abide by the timelines for holding the elections, these officials have decided to fight a legal battle in preference to abiding by the statute book. This is nothing short of a criminal repudiation of the sanctity of the constitution which is the foundational pillar on which the entire edifice of democracy stands.


Just like the conduct of the ruling conglomerate who have gone to the extreme of amending the laws of accountability to wash themselves clean of their grievous crimes, it appears the country is being deliberately taken out of the ambit of the constitution so that they could indulge in their favourite sport of loot and plunder with complete immunity.

In a parallel development, the speaker of the Punjab provincial assembly, Mohammad Sibtain Khan, has written a letter to the president and the supreme commander of the armed forces, asking him to fulfil his oath of office under article 42 Third Schedule of the constitution: “to preserve, protect and defend the constitution” in the face of “deliberate defiance of its obligation by the election commission of Pakistan”. He has also drawn his attention to section 57 (1) of the Elections Act, 2017 which “empowers him to fulfil the constitutional requirement of holding the general election within the stipulated period”.

The ugly gets uglier. The requirement of holding elections within the bounds of constitutional strictures is now being flagrantly defied and dragged into the courts of law. What they decide and when they decide depends on numerous imponderables. Meanwhile, the country simmers on the tip of boiling over onto the streets which shall not be a controllable phenomenon for many are the ailments desperately beseeching prognosis. Yes, we have land, but there is no law, and no respite. It remains a ceaseless agony.

The writer is a political and security strategist and founder of Regional Peace Institute. He is a former SAPM and currently a senior fellow at the King’s College London