Friday, 24 February 2012

Ten Years of Meltdown

Another bomb explosion in Peshawar yesterday claimed yet more lives. Like the explosion in the Khyber tribal district not long back, this happened whilst people waited for a bus. Sadly, this comes less than a week after sectarian violence in Parachinar and today gunmen stormed a police station, again in Peshawar, leading to yet more killing. I can't help but think that right now, it doesn't really matter any more what the faith denomination, ethnic background or political slant of an individual is, in Pakistan - something is seriously malfunctioning. Whilst ultimately violence is indiscriminate; Peshawar, Khyber, Swat, Parachinar, Waziristan, Bajaur and much more, is Pashtoon land and when we turn our violence upon each other, I feel hurt and confusion. At times it feels that we are going down like flies. And I continue to ask why.

Ahmed Rashid, writing for the BBC describes the past ten years perfectly when he says that Pakistan is in Meltdown.  He writes that ten years after becoming embroiled in the US "War on Terror", Pakistan, mired in scandal, may have to face some kind of unilateral US action. This has long been conjecture, but let's face it, when the US enters Pakistani airspace with its drones, this results in civilians being killed. The Raymond Davis shoot-out saw Pakistan bowing to US pressure - thus effectively creating an immunity for American intelligence to kill on Pakistani soil, seemingly without impunity and of course, most infamously Osama bin Laden was hunted down and killed in Abbotabad, whilst Pakistan was asleep. All of these represent US action against Pakistan, whether anyone cares to admit it or not.

But of Pakistan itself - why is it headed towards meltdown? I have a theory. Rather simplistically much of Pakistan's past, present and future woes stem from its schizophrenic relationship with India and how this is dealt with. And yes, there is mass poverty, economic ruin, natural disasters, ethnic unrest and wide-scale political corruption at home. Everything in Pakistan is negatively over politicised - the intelligence services, militant groups, the judiciary, redrawing of provincial boundaries, college campuses, religion, the media, municipality services, the ordinary man on the street and of course, the military. 

Notice there that even whilst discussing this, I didn't even get to politicians. They of course, knowingly sit there in Pakistan temporarily or in exile to escape criminal or corruption charges, watching as everything melts before them.

 Cartoon by Satish Acharya

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