The Farce Called Pakistan!

Pakistan faces an existential situation made worse by a hung election and the rejection of its Army. What is the way forward?

The Farce Called Pakistan!
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo / Unsplash
Free Man Turban photo and picture
What is a constitution? It is a booklet with twelve or ten pages. I can tear them away and say that tomorrow we shall live under a different system. Today, the people will follow wherever I lead. All the politicians including the once mighty Mr. Bhutto will follow me with tails wagging. - Zia ul Haq Speaking to an Iranian Newspaper in September 1977, as quoted in Pakistan, a Dream Gone Sour (1997) by Roedad Khan

A disciple inquired of the master monk Dasui, "When the cosmic conflagration that concludes an epoch engulfs everything and obliterates the cosmos, does this too perish?"

Dasui responded, "It perishes."

The disciple questioned further, "So, it is swept away with the rest?"

Dasui affirmed, "Indeed, it is swept away."

In a similar vein, a disciple posed a question to another master monk Longji, "As the inferno that marks the epoch's end consumes all and the cosmos faces annihilation, does this remain intact or not?"

Longji declared, "It remains intact."

Puzzled, the disciple asked, "How does it remain untouched?"

Longji explained, "It remains because it is indivisible from the cosmos itself."

What happens in this universe is non-different from the consciousness.

Similarly what happens in a society is non-different from the individuals it is comprised of. We may have one or the other individual whom we may like or not, but society's behavior and fate are sealed collectively by individuals making it up.

Society, you see, is the resultant vector of all the individuals comprising it.

Today's Pakistan may be facing an existential crisis.

Not because some players are creating that situation for it. But because the society was built on such terrible foundational elements that would have led such a society to this eventuality no matter the players.

Mujibur, Zia and Imran are just proxies. The evil was unleashed long back.


The War Criminals!

A group of war criminals started their journey on the back of hatred for "others". When it was Hindus and Sikhs as "others", everyone including the Ahmadis were their allies and Bengali Islamists their quarterbacks. When Hindus and Sikhs were finished from their land, Balochis and Bengalis became their target. And then the Ahmadis.

All through this journey, one thing was common.

Thirst for blood and lust for the vanquished's women.

Rape camps - where women were enslaved and raped by the group that called itself the "Pakistani Army" were a regular feature. A strategic component of an aggressive maneuver.

Source: ‘We lay like corpses. Then the raping began’: 52 years on, Bangladesh’s rape camp survivors speak out / The Guardian

When the Bengalis were raped and killed, Ahmadis became the target. And the march of this group of war criminals, that the Pakistanis fantasized to be an "army" went on.

Women raped, men burned alive, kids shot and towns laid to rubble, nothing stopped this demon.

Yet.. no one called this demon for what it was - A Group of War Criminals. A group so evil that when you look at their entire portfolio of crimes, Hitler's Nazis look like enlightened saints! The farce of calling it "Pakistan Army" continued.

So when a little girl calls it out, however sparingly given the heinous nature of the group, you wonder at the willful ignorance and utter impotence of every "revolutionary poet", activist, and human rights fighter in Pakistan.

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Army vs People

Those who lost their shoes in the streets of Dhaka.

Those who lay down their arms, who are naked.
They turned their gun on us today.

Mother naked, these are sinners.
These are adulterers lying on the sister.
They are traitors who broke three constitutions.

Give them the death penalty.
Give them a punishment that is a lesson. !!

You see, it is a society of make-believe.

Artificial Victories, Coups, and Assassinations

That is why it is quite apt that given the rampant corruption in the current 2024 election, the leading party's leader -Imran Khan - has declared his victory via an audio-visual message generated via Artificial Intelligence. (Source: X post /Imran Khan)

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This is another day in the make-believe society of Pakistan.

An election in a country run by War Criminals.

A governance that goes by a cute name called "democracy". The Pakistanis, analysts, commentators, and intellectuals alike rattle these inanities and the Western media and the governments start believing that.

Here is a list of all the Prime Ministers in Pakistan's history. What strikes you the most? Check the tenure.

In terms of tenure and length of rule, the Pakistan Peoples Party has had the longest stint in power. There have been several avatars of the "Muslim League".

Corruption and money-making have been the aim of every Prime Minister who came to power in Pakistan.

Not one Pakistani Prime Minister ever has completed his or her term of Five Years.

Assassinations, coups, forced resignations, and corruption charges - everything has been used to keep the Pakistani Prime Minister in charge from completing his or her term.

No prime minister has completed a full five-year tenure in Pakistan’s 75-year history – a trend extended with the removal of Imran Khan, who lost a no-confidence vote on Sunday. Pakistan, a parliamentary democracy for most of its history, has had a total of 29 prime ministers since 1947 – one of whom took on the role twice in one year. On 18 occasions, prime ministers have been removed under a variety of circumstances, including corruption charges, direct military coups and forced resignations due to infighting in governing groups. There was one assassination. The remaining prime ministers held the position for a limited time as caretakers to oversee new elections or to see out a dismissed prime minister’s tenure. The year 1993 was particularly fraught, with five changes in the prime ministership. The shortest tenure for a prime minister is two weeks, while the longest is four years and two months. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was elected prime minister three times: 1990, 1997 and 2013 – the most for a single candidate. (Source: No Pakistani prime minister has completed a full term in office / Al Jazeera)

Pakistan's governments have been made and broken using extra-constitutional tools.

 Coup d'etat - that has marred the Pakistani governance landscape. Four coups have occurred and three of them have been by the military.

  1. 1953/54 constitutional coup (1953): Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad dissolved the administration led by Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin, despite its backing by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Subsequently, in 1954, he took the further step of dissolving the Constituent Assembly itself. This action was primarily aimed at thwarting any attempts by the assembly to amend the constitution in a manner that would curtail the powers vested in the Governor-General's office.
  2. Major General Iskander Mirza's coup (1958): Was the first military coup. the first Pakistani President, Major General Iskander Mirza, took the significant step of dissolving the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and the cabinet led by Prime Minister Feroz Khan Noon. He then appointed the then-army commander-in-chief, Gen. Ayub Khan, as the Chief martial law administrator. However, in a dramatic turn of events just thirteen days later, Ayub Khan ousted Mirza, sending him into exile, and subsequently declared himself president.
  3. Operation Fair Play (1977): "Operation Fair Play" was the codename for a military coup that unfolded at the stroke of midnight on July 4, 1977, orchestrated by the Pakistan military under the leadership of then Chief of Army Staff, General Zia-ul-Haq. This operation targeted the administration of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, leading to the detention of Bhutto himself, his cabinet members, and key figures from the Pakistan People's Party as well as the Pakistan National Alliance.
  4. Musharraf Coup (1999): In October 1999, high-ranking military officers aligned with Gen. Pervez Musharraf detained Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his cabinet. This action was in response to Sharif's failed attempt to oust Musharraf and obstruct his aircraft from landing in Pakistan upon his return from Sri Lanka.

There were other coup attempts, albeit unsuccessful.

Rawalpindi Conspiracy (1951): The first notable coup attempt, known as the Rawalpindi Conspiracy of 1951, was orchestrated by Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan, in collaboration with left-leaning activists and officers who were disenchanted with the administration of Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan's inaugural prime minister. The plot also implicated the renowned poet and intellectual Faiz Ahmed Faiz, raising suspicions about his involvement in the conspiracy.

Zia Assassination Attempt (1980): In 1980, Major General Tajammul Hussain Malik, a senior officer in the Pakistan Army and a noted war hero, orchestrated a coup attempt against General Zia-ul-Haq's regime. The plan, aimed to be executed during the Pakistan Day parade on March 23, 1980, involved several senior army officers, including Malik's own son. However, the conspiracy was uncovered before it could be enacted, leading to the arrest and subsequent life imprisonment of Malik, his son, and other involved conspirators. Malik, who had previously shown exemplary courage in battles and had a distinguished military career, including commanding roles during the Indo-Pakistani Wars, faced a court-martial headed by General Zia-ul-Haq himself. Despite the severe consequences, Malik and his son chose not to accept offers of exile, showing a strong preference for their homeland. Malik was eventually released from prison in 1988 following Zia's death in a plane crash and later delved into politics, even forming his own Islamic political party. His autobiography, "The Story Of My Struggle," published in 1991, details his experiences and perspectives on his military and political life.

Anti-Benazir Coup (1995): In 1995, an unsuccessful coup aimed at Benazir Bhutto's government was orchestrated by Maj. Gen. Zahirul Islam Abbasi, backed by Islamic radicals. Additionally, during General Zia ul Haq's regime, a preemptively foiled coup plot involved Mustafa Khar, who was in exile at the time. The plan's exposure was due to Seth Abid acting as a double agent and alerting the military. The scheme reportedly involved disillusioned army officers and a safe house stocked with weapons acquired directly from India by Mustafa Khar, following negotiations with an Indian agent in London. These events are elaborately recounted by Tehmina Durrani in her acclaimed book 'My Feudal Lord,' where she reveals her coerced, minimal involvement due to her then-marriage to Mustafa Khar.

2024 Elections - a Rerun

Current elections is being run like this - by a group of war criminals. As is their wont.

Before the election, there were militant bombing attacks.

Two bombs in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan have killed at least 28 people, officials said, with dozens more injured. The twin blasts on Wednesday came a day before elections. The attacks targeted the election offices of political parties in the restive region. (Source: "Twin bombings kill at least 28 as Pakistan prepares for elections" / Al Jazeera)

On the day of the election, mobile phone and internet services were shut down in the entire country.

Just so that the so-called "Pakistani Army" could rig the elections the way they wanted.

Phone services have been suspended in Pakistan as the country voted in a general election marred by allegations of vote rigging and militant attacks. The caretaker government said phone services, including mobile internet, had been suspended on Thursday for security reasons, after two two bomb blasts by Islamic State targeted election offices in the restive region of Balochistan on the eve of the polls. However, political parties and candidates voiced concern that the suspension was a strategy to enable the rigging of the election by Pakistan’s powerful military, which has a history of meddling in the polls. Results had been expected by the evening but the suspension caused a delay in the reporting of votes, adding to concerns about the integrity of the process. (Source: "Pakistan election: phone service suspended as country goes to polls" / The Guardian)

Many are calling this election a watershed. Sushant Sareen calls it a "1970 moment."

Mainly because of how the popularity of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his party's overwhelming victory was sidelined by the so-called Pakistani Army.

Source: 1970 Pakistani general election

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was sidelined and Bhutto was installed. Rahman was furious and he warned the then dispensation with dire consequences.

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Mujibur rahman
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That started the breaking of Pakistan into two nations.

So, is it, as Sareen says, a "1970 moment"?

It all boils down to the inelasticity of one man's ego. Let me explain.

When Benazir chose Power over Revenge

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was executed by hanging in Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan on April 4, 1979, at the age of 51. On 5 July 1977, Bhutto was deposed in a military coup by army chief Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Controversially tried and then summarily executed.

The villain was Zia-ul-Haq.

The guy whom Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in March 1976 had approved then-three-star rank general Lieutenant-General Zia as Chief of Army Staff and to be elevated to four-star rank!

Zia-ul-Haq had been killed in an air crash on August 18, 1988

President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan and the United States Ambassador to his country were killed today when a Pakistani Air Force plane exploded in midair and crashed in eastern Pakistan. There was no official explanation for the crash of the American-made, four-engine C-130, which carried 30 people. There were no survivors, Pakistani and American officials said. Almost eight hours after the disaster, Gulam Ishaq Khan, the leader of the Senate, who under the Pakistani Constitution had assumed power, said that ''sabotage cannot be ruled out'' in the explosion. Mr. Ishaq Khan said in a televised address at midnight that he had declared a state of emergency and established a 13-member special council, including the chiefs of the three armed services. (Source: "ZIA OF PAKISTAN KILLED AS BLAST DOWNS PLANE; U.S. ENVOY, 28 OTHERS DIE" / New York Times)

The 1988 Pakistan elections were a pivotal moment in the nation's political history, characterized by a significant shift in power dynamics and the emergence of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) under the leadership of Benazir Bhutto. Amidst this political landscape, General Aslam Beg, then-Army Chief, played a complex and controversial role, particularly in relation to the funding of Islamist parties.

He will be followed by General (Retd) Mirza Aslam Beg, a former army chief, “whose political ambitions had forced the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan to nominate Gen Asif Nawaz as the new Army chief three months prior to Gen Beg’s retirement”. The newspaper report says: “His role in the famous Mehran Bank scandal and misuse of ISI funds for electoral/political manipulation is still fresh in public memory”. The report adds: “His then DG ISI, General (Retd) Asad Durrani, who had distributed Rs 140 million to win over the “for-sale” politicians never felt ashamed of his role or offered an apology”. (Source: Editorial: What the generals must apologise for / Daily Times)

Following the demise of General Zia-ul-Haq in August 1988, Pakistan found itself at a crossroads, with the elections held on November 16, 1988, witnessing a resurgence of the PPP. Despite facing the nine-party alliance, the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), supported by intelligence agencies, the PPP emerged as the largest party, securing 94 of the 207 seats in the National Assembly.

Following Zia’s death and under the prevailing law of succession, the chairman of the Senate, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, a longtime civil servant, became acting president. His first official act was to declare that the elections scheduled for November 1988 would be held as planned. The election results revealed that Benazir Bhutto’s PPP had won somewhat less than half the seats in the legislature. One-fourth went to the Islamic Democratic Alliance (which claimed to represent the policies of the late general), and the remaining seats were won by independents and candidates from a number of lesser parties. Bhutto’s party did well in Sind and the North-West Frontier Province, where it was able to form the provincial governments. However, the Punjab was won by the Islamic Democratic Alliance (Islami Jamhoori Itihad [IJI]), led by Nawaz Sharif, a Punjabi businessman, who became the province’s chief minister. Bhutto and her PPP had failed to win a mandate from the voters; however, the party had more seats in the national assembly than its nearest rival, and Ishaq Khan chose Bhutto to organize Pakistan’s first civilian administration since the dissolution of her father’s government in 1977. Thus, Ishaq Khan was formally elected president in December, and Benazir Bhutto became Pakistan’s first female prime minister. Moreover, she was the first woman to head a Muslim state. (Source: The first administration of Benazir Bhutto / Britannica)

This victory put the Pakistani Army's panties in a twist after years of unrestricted military rule. They were pushing for an Islamist takeover of Pakistan with Jamaat-i-Islami and Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League as the main backers.

The core constituents of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) - the dispensation that General Aslam Beg favored - included the Muslim League and the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI). Predominantly, the Muslim League was influenced by the prosperous middle-class individuals from central Punjab, and the JI served as the ideological backbone. Other smaller parties within the IJI, such as Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi's National People’s Party, Sami-ul-Haq's Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-S), and Maulana Lakhvi's Jamiat Ahle Hadith, each had an influence equivalent to approximately one parliamentary seat.

When despite the military's strongest attempts at keeping Benazir Bhutto out of contention, she still came out ahead, the honchos in Rawalpindi had a major issue on their hands.

Here was the daughter of ZA Bhutto who was hanged by Zia-ul-Haq, a military dictator, who threatened to take over power. Would she do to Zia's family what was done to hers?

When Benazir went to meet General Beg and a deal was struck.

Source: "Pakistan under Benazir Bhutto" / Saeed Shafqat, Asian Survey, Vol. 36, No. 7 (Jul. 1996), pp. 655-672 (18 pages)

Rauf Klasra writes in his X post about this episode of Pakistani history.

What is he saying?

Translated via Google to English: The Pakistani military establishment is currently facing the same situation as Army Chief General Aslam Baig and his military commanders after the 1988 elections. Benazir Bhutto's party had won the election despite the efforts of the then military leadership General Baig and the ISI. At that time, the political front against Benazir Bhutto was handled by Nawaz Sharif, who was the caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab. Although Benazir still lacked the numbers to form a government. The army and President Ghulam Ishaq Khan wanted to stop Benazir. At the behest of the army, Nawaz Sharif, Mustafa Jatoi and the people of the ISI-backed IJI alliance were in the forefront. The army was not ready to return power to the Bhutto family. There was a threat that Benazir Bhutto would avenge her father's execution. Well, there was some external pressure on General Beg, perhaps from the Americans. Benazir was pressing that Acting President Ishaq invited her to form the federal government but he refused. Finally, General Baig invited Benazir Bhutto for dinner at Army House. He said on some issues they will be no-go areas. General Zia's family will not be avenged. The Foreign Minister will be his own retired General Sahibzada Yaqub Khan. The nuclear program will not be discussed. Afghan, India policy will be run by the army. Benazir Bhutto had an option to refuse this deal. But he took the deal because he said his political workers had seen a tough time under General Zia. They were still in prisons. They needed relief. Thus, General Baig and Benazir broke the deadlock on the basis of Kuch Lo Kuch Do.

So she had to agree to four rules for getting power:

  1. General Zia's family will not be avenged.
  2. The Foreign Minister will be his own retired General Sahibzada Yaqub Khan.
  3. The nuclear program will not be discussed.
  4. Foreign Policy relative to Afghanistan and India will be run by the army.

She agreed.

Her ego was negotiable. Or rather, it was done to save her power base which had suffered under Zia-ul-Haq's rule relentlessly.

And thus Benazir was invited to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Following Zia’s death and under the prevailing law of succession, the chairman of the Senate, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, a longtime civil servant, became acting president. His first official act was to declare that the elections scheduled for November 1988 would be held as planned. The election results revealed that Benazir Bhutto’s PPP had won somewhat less than half the seats in the legislature. One-fourth went to the Islamic Democratic Alliance (which claimed to represent the policies of the late general), and the remaining seats were won by independents and candidates from a number of lesser parties. Bhutto’s party did well in Sind and the North-West Frontier Province, where it was able to form the provincial governments. However, the Punjab was won by the Islamic Democratic Alliance (Islami Jamhoori Itihad [IJI]), led by Nawaz Sharif, a Punjabi businessman, who became the province’s chief minister. Bhutto and her PPP had failed to win a mandate from the voters; however, the party had more seats in the national assembly than its nearest rival, and Ishaq Khan chose Bhutto to organize Pakistan’s first civilian administration since the dissolution of her father’s government in 1977. Thus, Ishaq Khan was formally elected president in December, and Benazir Bhutto became Pakistan’s first female prime minister. Moreover, she was the first woman to head a Muslim state. (Source: The first administration of Benazir Bhutto / Britannica)

But General Aslam Beg did not stop at that. He kept his pressure up on Benazir Bhutto. He wanted her gone.

Controversies surrounded General Aslam Beg's involvement in funding conservative politicians as opposed to those from the PPP during the subsequent 1990 general elections. These allegations suggest a continuation of the military's influence in political matters, raising questions about the extent of military interference in the democratic process.

The ISI not only paid money to her opponents but also funded and pressured the national media.

It is clear that the main objective of the army and its intelligence arm the ISI, with a nod from President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, was to bribe politicians between 1990 and 1994. The hatchet job was done to prevent the re-election of the PPP by forming an alliance of rightist parties spearheaded by Nawaz Sharif in the form of the Islamic Democratic Alliance (IJI). The most shameful aspect of the Mehrangate saga is that neither the politicians nor the military leadership of the time comes out looking too good. Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the self-styled paragon of virtue and political correctness on whose watch tainted money was distributed, is the villain of the piece. A number of politicians including the MQM supremo Altaf Hussain, Shahbaz Sharif and the Jamaat-e-Islami leadership have denied receiving any money. According to Younis Habib, the ISI gave Nawaz Sharif Rs 3.5 million. His brother Shahbaz Sharif allegedly received Rs 2.5 million from Asif Jamshed Shah (the senior executive of the bank at the time), a claim denied by Sharif. (Source: From Memogate to Mehrangate / Pakistan Today)

The question that Rauf Klasra asks in the end of his X post is interesting.

The question is whether Army Chief General Asim Munir can take such a step or has political maturity reached within Imran Khan that he can take any major decision in these circumstances?

From Mujibur to Benazir to Imran - we have had three times when the power calculus of the military establishment has been challenged by very popular leaders in Pakistan.

The consequences that ensued boiled down to just one thing - Flexibility.

Call it ego, ethnic responsibility, or power calculations.

Mujibur Rahman would not do a deal. He was punished. So were his people.

Benazir did the deal. To live another day. And save her powerbase.

Imran's future and that of Pakistan also hinges on one thing - whether he can do a deal or not. From the looks of it, given his personality and the treatment meted out to him, a deal seems unlikely.

As of the time of writing, the results from the election look like this.

Source: Dawn.com

An interesting X post puts the Pakistani elections in perspective.

Imran is ahead of the pack despite the open rigging by the military. Sharif is behind him and Bilawal Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party is third.

Yet, all of these players are gunning for the top post. Party leaders are already discussing that.

Many in the media are toeing the military line. For example, this paper gis already giving the election to Nawaz Sharif.

Although the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has failed to announce the final election results even after passage of two days after completion of the voting process in entire Pakistan, unofficial and unverified election results show that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is leading the race for the Punjab crown from the front. According to the unofficial and unverified election results, the PML-N has won 137 seats, while independent candidates backed by Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have won 116 seats in Punjab so far. Punjab, which is the largest province of Pakistan in terms of population, has 297 provincial assembly seats in total. Independent candidates not supported by the PTI have won 22 seats. (Source: General Elections 2024: PML-N leading the race in Punjab with PTI on its heals / Daily Pakistan)

This is when the party workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are being arrested and harrassed.

Barrister Gohar Khan, the top leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Sunday called for the release of his party's "political prisoners", including founder Imran Khan, in response to army chief General Asim Munir's statement stressing the need for a "healing touch" following the February 8 general elections. In his remarks, the military's head congratulated the nation on the successful conduct of the election. He also emphasised the need for stable leadership as well as a unifying approach towards transcending Pakistan's past tumultuous politics. (Source: "PTI demands 'political prisoners' release, mandate acceptance after COAS 'healing touch' statement" / The News)

Bhutto's party leadership is also positioning Bilawal to be the Prime Minister.

The situation is not easily understood by the uninitiated into Pakistani politics.

Sushant Sareen, an astute observer of Pakistan writes in an article on ORF titled "Pakistan generals’(s) election: Shock, awe and the traditional swindle"

One inescapable observation is that parties that were seen to be cosying up to the military or seen as the Army’s sidekicks (the IPP, PTI-P, BAP, etc) have been contemptuously rejected by the electorate.

He also states one thing -

That the army has suffered a serious setback is a no-brainer. It has the reputation of a military that has never won a war and never lost an election. Now, it has even lost an election. (Source: "Pakistan generals’(s) election: Shock, awe and the traditional swindle" / ORF)

One fully agrees with the observation that the main takeaway from the 2024 election is the complete rejection of the so-called Pakistani Army (really a group of war criminals).

The other observation that this group called the Army has "never lost an election" is not entirely true.

They lost the 1988 election as well.

What they lost on the ground, they won behind the doors.

Which Way Will Pakistan Go?

Going by our model of looking at the mood, the motivations, and the inclinations of the players in the fray and their ability to make deals with the Army at the expense of their own power ambitions, one would put this 2024 elections closer to the 1970 situation.

Imran is more in the mold of Mujibur Rahman as opposed to Benazir Bhutto.

The only, and the major difference is that Rahman had a defacto country in his hands. Imran doesn't.

What he has is the backing of youth in Pakistan.

‘He’s fighting for our future’: Pakistan’s young voters rally behind Imran Khan
Attempts to jail and harass the cricketer turned politician have only strengthened his support among young people
Pakistan election results: Why young voters continue to support Imran Khan’s PTI
Independents backed by ex-PM Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf are leading the Pakistan election race. Analysts say the former cricket hero’s multiple sentences, the country’s soaring inflation and anger with the military’s influence in politics could have driven PTI’s young voters to ballots

In Pakistan, the number of young individuals who are either not engaged in any productive activity or are jobless has surpassed 17 million, with almost 7 million among them being male. This situation highlights a significant underutilization of the country's human resources. (Source: The youth bulge / Business Recorder)

The situation of youth unemployment in Pakistan is a complex issue, exacerbated by several factors including a mismatch between the skills of the workforce and job market demands, as well as broader economic and social challenges. Recent reports indicate that a significant portion of Pakistan's youth is facing unemployment, with estimates suggesting that around 31% of the youth are currently without jobs. This figure includes a substantial number of individuals holding professional degrees, underscoring the acute challenge of skill mismatch in the job market.

A whopping 67 per cent youngsters in Pakistan want to leave the cash-strapped country in search of better opportunities abroad, according to a senior research economist in Islamabad. Besides this, as many as 31 percent of educated youth in Pakistan were without jobs, said Dr Faheem Jehangir Khan, Senior Research Economist at Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Dawn reported. (Source: "67% youngsters want to leave Pakistan; 31% educated youth unemployed" / FirstPost)

Whoever can leave Pakistan is leaving or has already left. Illegal immigration, Student visa, Professional migration, Asylum - whatever way works is being used.

In 2023, over 860,000 Pakistanis left the country for education and jobs. In the first six months of 2023, the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment (BEOE) reported that 450,110 Pakistanis left the country, including 26,405 highly skilled workers and 4,705 engineers. (Source: 860,000 Pakistanis left the country in 2023 / Global Village Space)

One Pakistani educator writes on LinkedIn about pervasive pessimism in Pakistan.

Currently, Pakistan is dealing with a pervasive sense of pessimism, which is largely caused by the interconnected problems of unemployment, lifestyle inequality, and insecurity. These difficulties have produced a complicated environment that affects both individuals and society as a whole.
Pakistan’s Pervasive Hopelessness: (Unemployment, Lifestyle, and Insecurity)
Currently, Pakistan is dealing with a pervasive sense of pessimism, which is largely caused by the interconnected problems of unemployment, lifestyle inequality, and insecurity. These difficulties have produced a complicated environment that affects both individuals and society as a whole.

When boats sink in faraway oceans, it is quite common to see that the majority of those dead are Pakistanis.

‘Hopelessness’: Why Pakistanis are leaving, losing lives at sea
Authorities in Pakistan say at least 124 Pakistanis were on a boat that sank off Greece with hundreds feared drowned.

In fact, as per public health experts, 3 out of every 4 citizens are suffering depression!

Public health experts and intellectuals have pointed out that around 75pc of the people, especially youngsters are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression in Pakistan. (Source: 75pc of Pakistan’s population suffers depression: health experts / Dawn)

The picture we see is quite stark!

A country that is being abandoned at an unprecedented rate. And those who stay back are mentally sick. Where youth has no future. This is why someone like Imran Khan seems to be the messiah to most. A past winner who could help. And, Army that was playing the different players, is now the villain. Its crimes have finally made it into the conscience of the people. And it is payback time!

Or so it seems.

With a weak military inside and the country facing active attacks on two of its borders - Iran and Afghanistan - Pakistan is acutely missing a strong iron hand to keep the populace in line. Its own line, but at least a line.

So when you replay the situation at hand, two things seem to be clear possibilities for the future:

  1. Breakup of Pakistan
  2. Ultimate elimination of Imran Khan

Which happens first is to be seen. If Imran is eliminated by the Army, then the Breakup will be just a formality.

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