Mission Accomplished: A Puppet Democratic Government


According to the latest news from Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper I love and trust, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has finally been humbled by the army, and for the rest of his term, he will be, as so many of us had feared, a “ceremonial prime minister.” {{1}} [[1]][[1]]

According to the latest reports, the new compromise in the offing has assured the following for the army:

  • The elected government will defer to the army for foreign policy, US relations, and on other strategic defense matters.
  • The elected government will eventually create a path for Pervez Musharraf to leave the country.

Besides the two obvious capitulations by the elected government, it seems that government is now so weak that we are back to the hackneyed and failed method of Pakistani politics: token governments run by the military.

So, in other words, democracy in Pakistan is back to where it used to be and powers that have held our destiny for all these years are back in charge.

I have been openly opposed to the two marches on Islamabad for precisely this reason: I, along with so many others, had feared that these marches would end up weakening the Pakistani political system and open the back doors to the uncocstitutional power brokers. That is what has come to pass.

It no longer matters what happens now: the fragile system is already damaged.  Even if Imran Khan, somehow, becomes the prime minister, he will be yet another puppet, for this is the new formula of power sharing that he has forced on the current government and he himself will have to acquiesce to it.

I understand that Imran Khan has been successful in mobilizing the privileged segment of Pakistani electorate for popular causes, but in the end this mobilization has weakened the very democracy that he and his followers claim to champion. I dare suggest that this is not an accidental outcome. I believe that both Imran and Tahirul Qadri entered this new phase of popular protest with certain understanding with the powers-that-be, and as a result the same powers now have won their way back to state power.

So, yes while it is salutary to see a different kind of political constituency and a different kind of politics, in the end if we cannot support the democratic norm, then it is only a cosmetic difference. Now, if we soon see Pakistan transitioning into the kind of political farce that we have so often seen, we will know who to blame!

By M R

Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja is an Associate Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory and the editor of Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies.
Raja tweets @masoodraja

3 replies on “Mission Accomplished: A Puppet Democratic Government”

Nawaz Sharif said that it was the matter of security and the army had to play its role.

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – PM Nawaz Sharif has said that neither the government nor the army has asked to play any role of a mediator to bring the current political crisis to an end.
Addressing the National Assembly, Nawaz Sharif said that it was the matter of security and the army had to play its role.
Clarifying the army’s involvement in the political crisis, Nawaz said he received a call from army after which he allowed the latter to hold talks with the protesting groups, adding that the facts were misrepresented on media.
Nawaz said the protection of state buildings was the responsibility of the army under Article 245 of the constitution.
He said he will stand by his stance to uphold constitution and safeguard democracy.

The [redacted] of inqalab and azadi brigades are like lemmings. Penny wise, pound foolish I swear.

We had a nice “democracy” for a while, but it’s time to get back to business!!

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