August Issue 2014

By | Opinion | Editorial | Published 4 years ago

August 14, 2014 …  Another year in the life of Pakistan.  And Pakistanis are bracing themselves for the ‘tsunami’ that didn’t quite sweep the polls last year, and the revolution that lost its steam even before it took off.

As is Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.  And how!!!

In a total volté face, the man who was determined to put the army in its place has invited them to take over the capital city for three months by invoking Article 245 of the constitution.

Analysts are questioning the wisdom of his decision to pit the army against the civilians, which they warn could derail democracy and bring back the men-in-uniform.

But the prime minister is not unduly concerned.  In fact, he flew off to Saudi Arabia on a 10-day ‘spiritual’ journey, that included breaking bread (or rather fasts) with his royal benefactors, and addressing the local media.  Puffed up by his new-found ‘friendship’ with the army’s top boss, he is relying on the general’s men to sort out Imran and Qadri.

His interior minister, meanwhile, offered an unconvincing reason for invoking 245: The capital was in danger of terrorist attacks as a consequence of Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

But has the entire country not been in the grip of terrorism – and more – for a long time now?  Target killings, religious extremism, sectarianism, extortion, kidnappings for ransom – you name it.

Karachi notches up 8 to 10 target killings a day, Balochistan is wracked by an insurgency and religious extremism and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continues to reel from the war on terrorism.

Can a country that is beset with such grave problems and has virtually become a pariah on the global stage, afford more political turmoil?

Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri are determined to continue their August 14 long march to the finishing line.  The time for talks is over, says Khan.

As the party in power at the centre, PML-N should have taken the lead in dousing the political fires that were raging by seriously addressing the PTI’s concerns regarding rigging in the last elections.  Instead, it indulged in a war of words, further raising the political temperature in the country.

So has a point of no return been reached between the contending groups, or will they step back from their extreme positions and allow sanity to prevail?

This country can do without more bloodshed, more political upheaval.  Negotiations, not confrontation, is the answer.

The countdown to August 14, Pakistan’s 67th year of independence, has begun. Will its citizens see more violence, more bloodshed on that day?

The army will be calling the shots. Sadly, the elected prime minister will be but a mere spectator on that day.  Like the rest of us.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.

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