It seems that there is no end to the plight of Pakistan as it seems to be caught in a tight spot. On one end, the Imran Khan government has proved to be utterly useless as the government has somehow managed to worsen the condition of the already critical economy. While the Army controlled regime of Imran Khan has announced sweeping austerity measures as right from buffaloes to car and biscuits, nothing has been spared as Khan attempts to fill Pakistan’s empty coffers. However, it seems that with the Azadi protests led by the Maulana who has raised a strong tide against Imran Khan with an even more hardline approach, Pakistan is plunging further into radical Islam.
The Opposition parties have revolted against the civilian government and demanded Khan’s resignation as Pakistan has a newfound affinity for hardliners ever since Khan became the Prime Minister. On the other end, there is Maulana Fazlur Rehman who is another hardliner and a staunch Islamist who is the current president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam(JUI). Rehman is spearheading the massive Azaadi March against Imran Khan.
It is clear that the Imran Khan government is not the answer to Pakistan’s woes but the question is even if the Maulana proves to be successful in his efforts to dethrone Khan, there is no one in the opposition who has the gravitas to unite the nation as Pakistan finds itself plunging into the hands of hardliners. A country which once had a strong female figure as Prime Minister now has a Prime Minister whose wife’s face is a thing of mystery of for the world, but the plunge seems to continue.
Pakistan’s politique has come full circle with an Azadi march demanding Imran khan’s resignation, similar to how Imran Khan had earlier tried to topple Nawaz sharif’s government. During the previous tenure of Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan on various occasions had protested on the streets and asked for Sharif’s resignation.
The Imran Khan government is handling the protests in an authoritarian manner as it has requested the Army’s support to quell the protests and has decided to file a case of mutiny against Maulana Fazlur Rehman for delivering a provocative speech and “instigating people” against Prime Minister Imran Khan and state institutions as Khan has publicly vowed to put all the opposition leaders in jail.
While Khan’s campaign was not as hardline but there is no doubt that his actions have propelled Pakistan’s plunging into the hands of the hardliners. He was thoroughly embarrassed at the United Nations and decided to sack Maleeha Lodhi as Pakistan’s permanent UN representative. The subsequent appointment of hardliner Munir Akram as Pakistan’s permanent representative came under severe criticism as Akram was earlier, reported for a domestic violence incident in which he beat up his live-in partner Marijana Mihic. The situation became so serious that the US State Department asked Pakistan to withdraw his diplomatic immunity after New York City prosecutors sought to bring misdemeanour assault charges against him. Munir Akram is known for his toxic commentary against India.
It is widely believed that Khan is nothing but a piece of furniture in Pakistan’s scheme of things as it’s Army chief Bajwa who calls the shots which was evident when Khan took an exception and granted Bajwa a three-year extension. Recently, the ISI which is infamous for its attempts to export terror to India, saw its head, Asim Munir being replaced by the hardliner Faiz Hameed who is an ace manipulator and considered close to Bajwa. He played a pivotal role in bringing down the Nawaz Sharif government as he played a key role in building the 2017 protest of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to weaken the Nawaz Sharif government, and later manipulating a peace deal with the Barelvi militants. His actions were even criticised by Pakistan’s Supreme Court and it seems that he is parachuted to manage the political influence of the opposition parties when the anger grows over Khan’s failure to get the economy back on track. It is important to note that, Hameed in all probability will succeed Bajwa as the Pakistan Army Chief once the latter retires in 2022.
Imran Khan’s glaring inefficiencies might make the opposition parties look good on paper but if you scratch the surface, there’s even more muck to be found. Maulana Fazlur Rehman who is a graduate with a Bachelors degree in Islamiat has in the past led several anti-America and pro-Taliban campaigns in Pakistan. He had even gone to the extent of threatening the then US President Bush to launch a jihad against the United States if the bombings continued in the light of Afghanistan war in 2001.
In October 2001, Pervez Musharraf placed the Maulana under house arrest in his native village Abdul Khel for inciting the citizens of Pakistan against the armed forces of Pakistan and for trying to overthrow the government of Pakistan. Later in March 2002, Maulana was set free and the cases against him were withdrawn.
Pakistan seems to have been caught in an endless loop as right from Musharraf’s tenure, there have been calls to demand the incumbent’s resignation. Unfortunately, for Pakistan, a resignation is not the answer to its economic woes as half of the opposition is in jail and the other half is full of hardliners worsening the intensity of radical Islam in Pakistan. Bilawal has also displayed his radical side on various occasions. Pakistan seems a far cry from the nation which elected a female, Benazir Bhutto as its Prime Minister as Pakistan continues its free-fall into radicalism and ultimately its doom.