If statehood is the sum total of disciplined institutions functioning in a vibrant civil society based on general will, the ship of Pakistan has since long run aground. In Pakistan, the sacred name of religion has always been misused for usurpation of state resources and tyrannizing of people with such impunity that today, b even thinking of a statehood otherwise is considered treason and apostasy. But they say God comes to see without a bell. That visit is nigh now. “One General – one General and 22 crore people. Either the General has to come down or the people will go up,” roared Ali Ahmad Kurd Advocate while addressing Asma Jahangir Conference in Lahore last week. Heralding civil rights and liberties of the Pakistani populace for decades, Asma Jahangir has not got silent even after her death. The legendary rights activist passed away in 2018. But she continues to be a gathering point for mobs of political and human rights activists across Pakistan. Asma Jahangir Conference has now become a regular annual feature where exponents of all ideological shades come to vent their suffocation. This year, the conference turned a new page in the political and judicial history of Pakistan. The law of expediency has since very long been the most popular tool to subvert the general will. Several reasons can be attributed to the conference rocking the citadels of power in Pakistan. This year, the conference came on the heels of the PTI’s dream turning sour. Imran Khan was said to be the last card in the hands of the establishment and now there is total dark at the end of the tunnel. In this situation came the statement of Jamaat-e-Islami’s Senator Mushtaq in the Upper House lamenting the dismal performance of the judiciary. “In perks and privileges, our judiciary is in the top ten throughout the world. But in delivery of justice, it has fallen to number124,” the Senator said giving lengthy details about courts being misused for suppression of political opponents. “Sacred cows,” he quoted judges of the higher judiciary while treating politicians. “They must contemplate if they are themselves acting as sacred cows.” On the heels of this eye-opening disclosure came the confession of Rana Shamim, ex-Chief Judge of Gilgit-Baltistan, speaking on oath that Justice (Retd) Saquib Nisar, the former Chief Justice of Pakistan, had directed an Islamabad High Court judge not to release former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz ‘at any cost’ before the 2018 general elections. According to the judge’s claim, the former Chief Justice had said that ‘our friends’ had decided to bring Imran Khan into power at any cost. The statement caused a tumult in national politics. The fake account brigade of “institutions” would dispute the veracity of the statement and a subsequent video clip of the former Chief Justice. A need can hardly be felt to judge the veracity of the statement. Manipulation of power and politics by the military establishment is nothing secret at all, nor is there anything new about it. Political power – and whatever other power there can be in Pakistan – are in the hand of the military. Making of political alliances and coalitions and induction of federal and provincial governments is the sole prerogative of the military officers, otherwise government servants In past, more so after General Zia’s dark age, the military had been aligning themselves with religious and jihadist groups and their leaders just to suppress the liberal, secular and nationalist political parties and activists. Dogmatic religious extremists were even seated in media houses to promote the narrative of a monolithic religious state and discourage those upholding pluralism and diversity. The law of expediency has since very long been the most popular tool to subvert the general will. This law has always been used against civilian governments until the 8th Amendment was bulldozed through the parliament. Several prime ministers, who refused to act in subservience, were sent home by invoking this amendment. Is there any need for proof for such manipulation and subversion of the people’s political will? In the Asghar Khan case, the former ISI Chief General Hamid Gul had confessed making of Islami Jamhoori Ittihad (IJI) and distributing funds among politicians to defeat Benazir Bhutto in the 1990 general elections. But nature has its course and it takes that course when the manipulators exhaust all their tricks and tactics. The same Islamists and jihadists, who were created and promoted as a strategic asset for suppressing dissenting voices, were dubbed as enemy agents when this Frankenstein’s Jinn flew out of the bottle. Let every force be used to disprove charges against Justice (Retired) Saqib Nisar, can anyone deny the bias, which is visible in courts? The case against General Musharraf is pending for years while those against Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz are disposed of with a rocket’s speed. By the way, why is the PTI Fundraising case not being heard? Residential houses of poor people have been razed under court orders in Karachi and Islamabad. Can any judge justify that? Has this nation got such a short memory to forget the billions of rupees worth of funds collected by Justice (Retired) Saqib Nisar in the name of Mohmand and Diamir-Bhasha Dams? Where have the billions of rupees collected by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) gone? Is it a lawless state? Silencing or muzzling dissenting voices, criminalizing opponents, or forcibly disappearing those who speak is very easy for the mightier. The same thing has all along been done. But remember that mills of God though grind slowly, but when they grind, they grind very fine. In his address at Asma Jahangir Conference, intellectual Afrasiyab Khattak aptly said, ” Asma Jahangir Conference 2021 has assumed the shape of a people’s parliament.” He said: “The problem in Pakistan is not of nationalities, but of Martial Law – of a non-democratic system. It is like a permanent Martial Law.” Much has been subverted only to concentrate wealth and power into the hands of a few. But beware, history is about to give its verdict. And none of the powerful will be able to resist. Faiz Ahmad Faiz says: “Jab Zulm o Sitam kay Koh-e-Garan, Rui ki Tarah Urh Jaayen Gay; Aur Ahl-e-Hukm ke Sar Oopar, Jab Bijli karh, karh, Karhke Gi; Ham Dekhain Gay, Laazim hay ke Ham Bhi Dekhain Gay” The writer is an independent freelance journalist based in Islamabad covering South Asia/ Central Asia.