The nuclear state of Pakistan is going through a farcical election in which hundreds have died at the hands of government-backed jihadi death squads, tens of thousands have disappeared, feared kidnapped and killed by security agencies. At the same time, Pakistan’s newspapers and TV networks face a crackdown by a military that now has the country’s judiciary providing legitimacy to them, allowing them to run the country as their private fiefdom without having to stage a coup d’état.
And if the reign of terror and intimidation was meant to keep the elected yet ousted popular Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif away in the UK with his ailing wife, he chose to face the military head-on.
With his daughter Maryam Nawaz by his side, Sharif arrived in Lahore, Pakistan from London. However, before he could say a word to the crowds that came to greet him, Sharif and his daughter were arrestedinside the aircraft and whisked away to Adiala Jail in Islamabad where he has been placed in squalid conditions and is being treated as an ordinary criminal.
Sharif’s arrival on Friday was a tumultuous day in his power base, the province of Punjab, but unknown to the masses on the streets of Lahore and the rest of the country, ISIS had sent a suicide bomber to do what jihadis do best — blow themselves up and kill for the supposed glory of Allah.
Sources say the ISIS blast had been sanctioned by the country’s military-backed death squads to deflect attention from the arrival of Nawaz Sharif in Lahore.
For those in authority, the dead in Balochistan matter little. It’s a place where a 70-year on-again, off-again insurgency has demanded an end to Pakistan’s 1948 invasion and military occupation.
Balochistan is also the Pakistan military’s nuclear test site and home to the launch pads from where Islamabad can hit Israel in the west and India in the east.M-
The judiciary-military-mullah alliance in Pakistan has its own horse in the race. He is the former cricketer and playboy-turned-Islamist Imran Khan, and he may very well cross the finish line first next Wednesday. The judiciary has asked the military to control all polling booths and ballot boxes after they are sealed. Many fear this is a sure-shot way of altering the results without a soul being permitted to watch the vote count.
However, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani asserts, no matter what the outcome, “Sharif’s imprisonment will not end his political career and will outlast the retirement of generals and colonels who plotted his downfall.”
Unfortunately, there might not be a Pakistan left for Sharif to continue his ‘political career’.
Pakistan is unravelling at its seams. Balochistan is on a warpath seeking independence; Sindh nationalists desiring an independent ‘Sindhu Desh’ are being helped by its Indus river dispute with ruling Punjab that has rendered fresh water lakes in Sindh into saline ponds. In the north young Pashtuns openly challenge Punjabi troops on the streets and see more in common with their Afghan fellow Pashtuns than the arrogance of Punjabi military masters.
The culmination of the acronym P A K I S T A N is near. One cannot weave togetherness using bayonets, and time for bouquets is long past, especially if the flowers are dry. The question to the rest of the world, including Canada is this: What about Pakistan’s nukes?