Pakistani masses have long ago, been faced with terrorism, sectarianism and religious extremism. Beyond these all, the worst threat to the country is the downing of democracy and its ‘vulnerable’ parliamentary setup that are unambiguously attacked after every few years. The “disqualification” of Prime minister Nawaz Sharif is the continuity of patterns set by the mighty Pakistani establishment that has ruled the country since its inception. Since country's emergence, smaller ethnic groups and nationalities have unequivocally alleged that establishment was pro-Punjab as it secured lion’s share of country’s resources and had the highest representation in the army, bureaucracy and the parliament.
Pakistan's civil bureaucracy and later the military establishment, have kept their control over national affairs intact. It is their interests that prevail. For example, fostering Talibanization in Pashtun society since the mid-1970s has been a policy to de-culture it and weaken Pashtun nationalism, and nurturing of religious extremism in the country. Similar problems have occurred in Seraiki, Sindhi and Baluch societies where religious extremism has grown.
For nine years, the country was run without any constitution after its emergence in 1947. Later the three constitutions including 1956, 1962 and the present 1973 constitutions were framed in a manner that that opportunities for the smaller ethnic groups remained limited and there was no proper federal structure that could enable decentralization of power to the provinces.
In the late 1950s, Pakistan’s establishment purposefully formed the so called ‘Parity’ based One-Unit by declaring only two provinces in the country, e.g., the West Pakistan and the East Pakistan. After cessation of East Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistani leadership - both military and civilian - started focusing on constructing a new identity lagging beyond reality called ‘Pakistani identity’. This new identity construction was based on the discourse that Pakistan came into being in the name of Islam and this religion should be the symbol of unity of people in the country. In 1973’s constitution Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims and a narrative was propagated that Pashtun, Baluch, Sirkiki, and Sindhi nationalities and other citizens of Pakistan have to wash away their native diversities and should not be anything else but Muslims and Pakistani’. The marginalized groups were deprived of their past history, rights and felt it a threat to their national question. That is why unrest in Sindh, Baluchistan, FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have intensified manifold.
During General Zia ul Haq’s rule, Islamization drive continued hegemonic policies resulting in extremism and sectarianism in the country. New generations born in Pakistan grew as confused youth searching for a real identity. Over time, security establishment became the main beneficiary of identity-constructing discourse and exercised central control using this mono-identity.
In the era of another dictator General Musharraf who took over the country in 1999 dressed in the clothing of liberalism and moderation which was inwardly the policy of the Pakistani establishment to face the challenges prevailing in the region especially to mislead the US and the international community in the war on terror.
In the past, the army dictators ruled the country through the so called doctrine of necessity” and used Article 52 2(B) of 1973 constitution. Their acts were legalised by the judiciary of Pakistan. Now Articles 62 and 63 are being used for the same purpose. In the age of social media, the people of the country are more educated, politically aware, pro-democracy. A new doctrine of “Mounting pressure” or” Minus-one-formula” was introduced by the former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary when he dishonestly sacked an elected premier of PPP government in 2012. The same game has been played again with present PML-N led government. First pressure groups by pro establishment elements were exercised to keep the government under control. Media was used to, blackmail and stigmatise Nawaz Sharif. Now the Prime Minister has been sacked again.
The past trends continue to haunt us. What has really changed?