Watching the ghost of the dead king walking on the palace wall Marcellus, observed, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Marcellus, certainly, had neither Pakistan nor capitalism in his mind but by the time his words reached, our ears in the 21st century, his prophecy proved not out of place. Something is rotten in the state besieged by inept bourgeois and metropolitan capital, whose ominous shadows are lurking around the people as spectres. The old is dying, but the new hasn’t been born. Hence, it is time for the Gramscian monsters. At the brink of economic default, Pakistan is facing its second Dien Bien Phu. The first happened in December 1971 leaving little trace in history but indelible scars on the national polity. The Versailles of Pakistan with its ruling class on its knees beseeching the IMF for an economic bailout still reverberates in one’s memory. The meltdown was on the cards and still is. The anxious moments plunged the market into a deep recession, the rupee touched rock bottom, dollars went berserk, and inflation kissed the sky. The human-made climate disaster played havoc in the shape of floods. Initially, part of Baluchistan was inundated though hardly stirring the collective numbness. Baloch lives scarcely matter, if they resist the calamities they eclipse in thin air as missing persons. However, when water came to drown the national shame in Sindh, Khyber, and part of south Punjab the ruling class opened its eyes. Calamity was an opportunity to attract the attention of the donors rather than to salvage the public plight. Apocalyptical destruction and later reconstruction especially through urbanization are the most convenient methods to realize accumulated capital. The 2nd world war helped the US to accumulate a huge surplus of capital. It started building houses to sell them to the soldiers coming back home after fighting a war against fascism. The loans were offered by the banks and houses and commodities were sold on credit cards. Since the creditors do not revolt the chances of any revolution were nipped in the bud. In 2008 China saved capitalism through massive construction. In 1852 Napoleon Bonaparte did the same in Paris. Pakistani Bonapartes were no exception to the tradition albeit they minted money by other means such as ammunition trade, human trafficking of civilians to Guantanamo Bay and supporting shady groups in neighbouring countries. Zia connived with the US and so did Musharraf, but the latter created builders and gave them free hand to plunder the public property. A new breed of Sicilian Mafia was born acting as frontmen to the propertied class whose wealth grew disproportionately in a short time. At the brink of economic default, Pakistan is facing its second Dien Bien Phu. The destructive component for the realization of capital is left to the military-industrial class of Pakistan. Despite shrinking boundaries of the state and various Waterloos, the defence budget continues to rise. Much of the national wealth is invested in the purchase and production of means of destruction, which Marcuse says, deforms the defenders and that which they defend. Every country needs security but without securing the basic necessities of people, national boundaries cannot be secured. East Bengal is a vivid example of this truth. Pakistan suffers a twofold tragedy. A corrupt ruling elite with a reptilian mind and an inert civil-military bureaucracy which considers itself absolute wisdom and Hegelian spirit of the state. Recently in a dismal show of performance, the Zarathustras of the Pakistani army have publicly spoken their minds. They confessed to making mistakes but denied vehemently the charge of being traitors. No one in the right mind can label their army generals as traitors but not many will endorse the blunders they committed as mistakes nor their novel claim to be apolitical. Apolitical is political and that is the only statement of Imran a narcissist demagogue, one can agree. Ruling a state from its inception to the present day is hardly proof of being apolitical. The armed forces cannot remain apolitical. For Gramsci “They are the permanent reserves of order and conservation and are a political force which comes into action publicly when ‘legality’ is in danger”. The only question of who defines ‘legality’ remains pertinent. In the former Soviet Union legality was not defined by property relations. In the absence of capitalism, the red army felt no need to fight against its people to protect the plunder of a handful of capitalists though as a worker-peasant army it played a pivotal role in the national polity. However, it did not strive to overpower the politburo or the executive committee or sought strategic depth on its own. The political decision of alienating east Bengal and a selective genocide of Bengalis, the anti-Soviet jihad leading to the destruction of Afghanistan and Pakistan, three pathetic adventures against the Indians, the judicial murder of a popularly elected premier, building non-entities into future premiers, silencing the ‘uncivilized’ Balochi lambs are no small mistakes. Ironically, when the institution felt its “title hanging loose like a giant’s robe” it deemed it necessary to come clean by offering an explanation. “When our actions do not,” Shakespeare says, –“Our fears do make us traitors”. Aren’t we finding ourselves at the Macbethian point of history? “Will all great Neptune’s Ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? Macbeth inquires. “No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red”. It is important to note that whereas men of Bhutto’s pedestal failed to pose a threat to the dominant interests, an ambitious mountebank Frankenstein is likely to succeed. This is the first time in the history of the country when the hegemony of the established power is seriously dented by a charismatic man that neither possesses the subtle and nuanced political understanding of Bhutto nor his economic insight nor an attractive manifesto. What makes him a bigger threat, his persona, or the objective historical conditions? Marx has the answer, “no society” he says, “poses for itself problems the necessary and sufficient conditions for whose solution do not already exist or are coming into being”. The confrontation between civil-military bourgeoisie to expropriate people has reached its acme. The disquiet of the people has also attained its peak. However, the crisis unable to find any organic solution is looking to a charismatic man. In the situation of a static equilibrium, the conservative segment of the ruling class is prepared to make sacrifices to retain the old power structure. The retreat of the army and Imran’s adventure are symbolic of this stasis. Pakistan’s problems are posed but cannot be solved in the predicate of the present economic structure but if a solution is not possible, it does not mean that anarchy and barbarism can be stymied. Is it Gramscian ‘cathartic moment’ perhaps not but possibly an indication of a passive revolution turning into an active one, which in the absence of a working-class party will end up in the chaos? The vicious cycle of despair will continue. “If any question why we died,” Kipling asks and replies, “because our fathers lied.” Some seventy-odd years ago we were told that religion alone defined an imagined community, called a nation. Twenty-five years later Bengalese became traitors, the amputation took the wind from the sails of two nation theory. Later we developed ahistorical nostalgia to export jihad. We probably won in Afghanistan but lost our place in the world community. Today when one-third of Pakistani citizens are suffering the rampage of various floods- inundated cities, inflation, and scarcity- the politicians are fighting pitched battles for power in Punjab. Emotions are high so are the profits. Media is selling it and a generation hungry for bourgeois freedom which exchange society provides for mere recuperation and takes back after such regimentation is blindly buying. “Churchill,” Tariq Ali wrote, “was a rotter, bounder, and a cad.” Are his successors in Pakistan any better? Does Punjab alone represent Pakistan? Are we craving for another Dien Bien Phu? The writer is an Australian-based academic and has authored books on socialism and history. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.