Arrested democracy – 12 May 2023

What we are looking at in Pakistan today is not an isolated event; this happens all around the world

Recently, Pakistan is giving the picture of a battlefield. The battlefield is between the military, the government, the establishment and the people’s sense of democratic power.

This prompts one to ask: is this a battle that the people have to wage against local entities that they deem as incompetent, corrupt and even sold-out? Or is the battle a greater one? Is this a local civil unrest that we are looking at? Or are we a victim of a proxy war being played upon our nation by global players?

What we are looking at in Pakistan today is not an isolated event; this happens all around the world. In neighbouring Iran, in the 2017 elections, there were mass protests in 80 cities, with protesters chanting against the Islamist regime, and chanting ‘Reza Shah, bless your soul’ for the pro-British, late King Pehlevi. Khamenei, pointing to the West, blamed “the enemies” for the unrest, saying they were using money, arms and political and intelligence support to coordinate the trouble-making. Since then, Iran has been a victim of ongoing ‘hijab-protests’ aimed against the government.

In the case of Iran, the enemy for the West is the Islamist regime, but in case of Pakistan, the regime is pro-West, and the people are the problem.

Compare this with Sri Lanka. There too the regime that was increasing relations with China was the problem. So, there again, a colour-revolution was ignited from within the people via foreign-funded NGOs and social media platforms. Again, there was another public protest in Pakistan, the Lawyers’ Movement, deemed by analysts as a colour revolution. Colour revolutions, a post-Cold War phenomenon, have been defined as non-indigenous, foreign-backed movements that are a product of machinations by the US and other Western powers.

So, the West too has instruments for political interference in other countries; regime change by a colour revolution if the regime is unwanted; and supporting a regime of their liking, by approving and aiding the suppression of the people’s voice. This utterly undemocratic drama is played in one country after the other; and people showing anger upon their own political system remain oblivious to what has been going on in countries around them, as history and remoteness fades away those events from present memory.

When the West dislikes a leader, it can cross all red lines. For instance, in Venezuela, in 2019, when President Maduro won a popular vote, the US and several European allies rejected his legitimacy, and there was widespread condemnation for him in the international media. The West declared an unknown parliamentarian, Juan Guaidó, as interim president, who was immediately recognised by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice of Venezuela in exile, in the US. And for three years Venezuela had to struggle with a political crisis that divided its people and pushed the country into economic instability.

Let’s come back to Pakistan. The country has suffered a lot being first door neighbour to Afghanistan, where superpowers have been coming to try their fates. In the Russo-Afghan War and then the US invasion of Afghanistan, the country had to constantly balance between superpowers pressures and its own existence. Strategies had to be devised so that Afghanistan would not be occupied with interests of those who would bear malign intent towards Pakistan, nor that Afghanistan would prove to be a jumping board into Pakistan. Even facing constant ‘do more’ pressure from the US, Pakistan did only that much which it deemed good for both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The 20-year-long US invasion ended in a miserable defeat and the US forces withdrew most embarrassingly in the mid of the night, leaving behind arms, ammunitions, tanks and copters, and all the Afghans that had allied with them for 20 years against their own people.

But the US was not ready to accept this defeat. It never relents in its enmities, it strikes back and again. So, it opted for a regime change in the country. Not that it would be a big or unusual thing, rather it is such a common thing that there is rarely any year post-WWII that they had not been trying this formula somewhere in the world.

So, for those who think that any country, including Pakistan, can live in isolation, mind their own business and have nothing to do with their neighborhood, or region or even the world, live in a fool’s paradise.

The truth is that we are living in a global village, connected more by vices than by virtues. There is not just pressure of military interventions, there are also political and economic interventions. Worth remembering here is John Perkins who wrote in 2004 about an army of ‘economic hitmen’ that roam around the world to “cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars… their tools included fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.”

Simply put, they operate by contracts, agencies, politicians, by way of bribes, seduction and even threats. In the end, everything that has a price is sold, most lucratively, loyalties, transparencies and interests of the people.

So, for the knowledge of the common folks, the unaware, innocent folks, there is a usual world that you live in everyday, and there is a supra-world that is lived by the upper echelons of society. This upper echelon socialises with, conducts business with, and shares its successes with another class of people, a class invisible to the naked eye.

The gargantuan profits thus accumulated make this class utterly unequal from the rest of the humanity. These surplus profits are then stacked in far-flung tax havens — havens that are to be kept far from those who are living in a fool’s paradise because they are dangerous people, for they have been overdosed with the notion (read opium) of ‘democracy’, ‘equality’ and ‘freedom’.

But suddenly, are the masses awakening from this very opium that was designed to keep them perpetually drowsed?

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