A process of digging graves – 03 Feb 2023

By Raoof Hasan

Being human is the fundamental crucible where from a variety of attributes spring. But we either fail to understand the cardinal importance of this critical reality – or we detach it from the foundational pillar, raise an outwardly attractive edifice and proceed to call it by its multiple superlative descriptions. At the minimum, this would be excessively foolhardy, and, at a more meaningful level, it would be tantamount to committing a grave travesty, even nullifying the very concept of being human.

It is also a recognized principle that it is through a process of gradual degradation, manipulated or otherwise, that the constituents which establish our being human are eroded. The first pillar assaulted and demolished is the value system on which society rests. There are certain ideals that are universally acknowledged as benchmarks and there are certain specifics to each society that we may also have to subscribe to for staying within the ambit of being called human. We have not only faltered on both counts, but we also continue to do so at an accelerated pace. This has been facilitated through the enactment of laws which run contrary to the recognized yardsticks as also of a blatant and often violent repudiation of others which are there to control such proclivities, even punish them if a need were to arise.

In the event these transgressions are not checked with the full might of the law, they become essential habits of society. In the process, while some individuals become perpetrators of ghastly violations, others are reduced to being mere onlookers who are either not impacted enough to stir their conscience, or they think they are much too weak to stand up to the mighty and the powerful for fear of grievous consequences. Consequently, this vile conduct becomes a norm and people are left with no option but to follow in the footsteps of the criminal gangs who tear the societal fabric to bits as a matter of routine.

With some, including the miniscule beneficiary elite, flaunting their immunity from being held to account, and others living in fear of reprisals if they speak up, it becomes the basis for the criminalization of a whole society. This is further aggravated with the state institutions joining in the loot and plunder spree to earn their pound of flesh. In such circumstances, society presents a harrowing picture of a perilous ship, gravely endangered because of the ensuing storm, which has been left rudderless in the sea to fend for itself. When confronted with such a dire situation, humans would cease to be humans, and no evil deed would be spared for being illegal or immoral.

With the state having made no effort to invest in the emancipation of its people from crass dogma and backwardness and put them on course to development, they have suffered the most as their stock has continued to degenerate at a quick pace. Concurrently, with the rapid enrichment and empowerment of the beneficiary elite, their place in society as equal citizens has been gravely endangered. As a matter of fact, society being divided into two camps – the empowered and the enfeebled – is now a recognized reality with each having their respective justice systems and their own benchmarks of subsistence.

In Pakistan, we are living through a similar state on a routine basis. With the rulers, surrounded by their malevolent conglomerate of facilitators, indulging in an uncontained advancement of their criminal enterprise, the ordinary mortals are reduced to being helpless bystanders, forever engaged in sustaining their meagre existence. When all state echelons have been effectively criminalized to that effect – an effort that continues unabated – there is little prospect for one to nurture any possibility for improvement. As a matter of fact, things are likely to continue deteriorating till either we have effectively exposed the country to the advent of fascism, or then those who have been wronged through generations rise in revolt against the system and its perpetrators. In both cases, it is blood I see on the streets.

While there is always a chance of the latter, what can be said with certainty is that, in either case, the state is going to become weaker with time and the chances of it dissolving completely cannot be written off. With all its organs and instruments disdainfully complicit in criminalizing the country and letting it cede in the hands of a cabal of convicts, under-trial criminals and absconders, the chances of the impoverished and enfeebled communities rising for freedom come laced with grave and life-threatening danger. When the judiciary is shorn of justice, when the administration is wedded exclusively to its own pockets, when other institutions of the state are engaged in advancing the utility of their empires, and when the foundations of the state have been rendered wobbly, the retrieval process is strewn with grave dangers.

Consequently, under normal circumstances, it would not be pursued, and the country would be left rudderless at the mercy of the waves which are becoming more threatening with the flow of time. This usually happens when the retrieval process itself is handed over to the very same criminals who are responsible for reducing it to a virtual nonentity. Instead of relieving it of the pain and suffering, they would remain more interested in further perpetuating this grave condition to elongate their stint in power.

In the current circumstances, they have no intention of holding elections either for the two assemblies which stand dissolved, or the general elections when they become due. For the time being, their patrons and sponsors also look numb, and thus compromised, allowing them to strip the state further. This process can only continue till we have a semblance of the state remaining for bearing further torture and infliction. While this has not been a permanent in history, it is not likely to be a permanent now either as the state is already showing signs of melting away.

Another experimentation which is gradually unfolding is that of constituting a technocratic government. It is strange that the powerful remain blind to their brazen mistakes and, instead of letting the constitution run its course, holding elections and allowing a government with the people’s mandate to take charge to steer a sinking ship, they are busy fabricating another concoction that would be at their mercy for its survival.

This reflects a mindset that is utterly infatuated with laying siege to the state irrespective of whether it is left with enough strength to survive the unnecessarily created and gravely flawed stratagems. They take it for a personal fiefdom and are on the lookout for recruiting a dime-a-dozen actors to do their bidding. I shudder at the naivete as we continue with the process of digging graves.

The writer is a political and security strategist, former special assistant to former PM Imran Khan, and currently a fellow at King’s College London. He tweets @RaoofHasan

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