With Sharif and his PML-N cohorts in utter despair, Khan and Qadri in a blind alley of demagogy and the military reluctant to take direct power, political theatrics are in full swing and Zardari now jumps into the arena as a wily magician. No wonder the people of Pakistan are in contemptuous frustration because of these silly circuses being staged in Islamabad and elsewhere. The television anchors whipping up anxieties are adding insult to injury, adding to the misery of the ordinary people under these conditions of boisterous stagnation. Sharif’s delusions about his mandate and historic greatness as an iconic leader of Pakistan have been shattered. Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali have already met army chief General Raheel Sharif for the fourth time in eight days and Khan and Qadri are also waiting in anticipation of an umpire in military uniform to raise his finger to the Prime Minister (PM). The negotiation process has been a bit like a yoyo to date. The imperialists are visibly perturbed att this rapidly unravelling chaos and anarchy.
Imran Khan and Qadri are adamant on Sharif’s resignation and the ruling PML-N is shocked at how its mandate and huge mass support have evaporated. The other opposition parties in parliament are supporting the status quo in a desperate attempt to hold onto their perks and plunder in this political setup. But parliamentary resolutions have lost their potency and their pleas are not just falling on deaf ears but are a target of scorn by many. The sham of this rotten bourgeois democracy stands exposed.
Sharif’s overtures to assert himself as a politically powerful PM have been spurned by the army that has called the real shots in Pakistan’s not very long but chequered history. A Reuters report last Wednesday was revealing: “The military does not intend to carry out a coup but if the government wants to get through its many problems and the four remaining years of its term, it has to share space with the army,” said the insider, summing up the message they were given. “Sharing space” is a familiar euphemism for civilian governments focusing narrowly on domestic political affairs and leaving security and strategic policy to the army. The fact that the military is back in the driving seat will make it harder for Nawaz to deliver the rapprochement with India that he promised when he won the election last year. “Thinking that Imran could be a game-changer, Nawaz has conceded the maximum to the army,” a Nawaz aide said. “From a Czar-like prime minister, they (the army) have reduced him to a deputy commissioner-type character who will deal with the day-to-day running of the country while they take care of the important stuff like Afghanistan and India.”
Looking at the history of Pakistani politics and the state, there is nothing surprising about these revelations. However, in the last few decades the control of the state and its agencies over the media, politics and various religious outfits has in fact suffered a corrosion of its grip due to the metastasis of the malignant tumour of the black economy, corruption and severe crisis of capitalism. Where the so-called non-state actors of Islamic terrorist groups have turned into Frankenstein’s monsters for the imperialist and military spymasters, the political and some of the media barons often get out of control and end up as adversaries. Imran Khan and Qadri, who are supposedly sponsored and engineered by the state, have gone so far that it looks like the bosses are at pains to harness them back in control. The crisis and contradictions amongst different sections of the state have also contributed to the stalemate.
The other important factor in the situation is the economic fallout and the haste with which the military wants to bolster its policy of strategic depth in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal when the newest great game will be far more intense and the contending regional and imperialist players will ferociously plunge into this orgy of plunder, bloodshed and devastation of the region. The operation in North Waziristan is designed to fortify the military’s control and command. The events that led to the breakdown of the composite dialogue with India seem to be part of the game plan. With the reactionary regime of the chauvinistic BJP, things are made easier for the adversary establishments and fundamentalists, Hindu and Muslim, who will reinforce and facilitate each other mutually with comfort in exasperating hatreds and jingoism. These manoeuvres and policies, however, can lead to catastrophic consequences for the South Asian subcontinent that was one prosperous land compared to the rest of the world, from Kabul to Rangoon in 1577 at the peak of Akbar’s rule.
Whatever happens in the end, the PML-N has been hit hard even if it is not a fatal blow. It exposed itself with such rapidity that, within 15 months, even the trader and petit bourgeois classes, in the throes of a severe financial crunch, saw that their illusions about these right-wing demagogues had evaporated. The PTI of Imran Khan, with its azaadi march, has no real solution for the woes of the populace. Qadri’s revolution does not even have a name, what to say of a concrete programme or a strategy. Both totally fail to call for even the basic of human needs, i.e. free health and education. They will not dare call for the nationalisation of corporate vultures known as the IPPs to end the curse of load shedding. The PTI leadership is actually a reunion of old Aitchisonians. None of them would ever call for the nationalisation of their mother institution, built by the British imperialists to create and educate a class for the perpetuation of their colonial rule. It is an institution reflecting the grandeur of the colonial and postcolonial elite, disgustingly slavish to their imperialist bosses.
Health and education are the most profitable businesses after the drug trade and ransom in today’s Pakistan. Both these radical forces cannot touch these and other leeching enterprises as their support and finances are dependent on these very entrepreneurs and imperialist monopolies. For that matter, all political parties of the present bourgeois political order are representatives of these different black and grey crony capitalist and feudal classes. These ‘freedom’ and ‘revolution’ marches are in fact primitive putsches to derail and subvert the real tide of a revolutionary tide that can erupt from below. The serious strategists of capital can feel the heat of this seething revolt underneath the surface. They are terrified of a volcanic explosion of society. Once that class struggle erupts with a Marxist leadership it will be unstoppable; the state, clergy and the political elite will be swept away. The capitalist, landlord and imperialist stranglehold shall be obliterated. It will break this boisterous stagnation and society will surge ahead towards a socialist victory.
The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and international secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org