Redefining Pakistani Politics from Revenge to Reconciliation

Pakistan is hardly an exception to the politics of retaliation and political victimhood that have long afflicted countries all over the globe. The pervasiveness of political revenge has negative effects on community well-being and political stability.

As implied by the definition of revenge, it entails the imposition of damage or humiliation in retaliation for an offense or injury. In Pakistan, political victimization often occurs when the governing administration uses the state apparatus to persecute the political opposition. The vicious cycle of retaliation fuels widespread political unrest and instability, which impedes the development of the country.

It clarifies the historical background of political victimization in Pakistan, including its effects on the country’s governance, accountability, and socioeconomic development under both democratic and military dictatorships.

It is possible to see the universality of political retribution in many different nations throughout the globe. Political victimization is more common under autocratic administrations and in countries with a bad democratic record, human rights abuses, poor governance, and low levels of political education and awareness. In emerging and poor nations like Bolivia, Egypt, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka, examples may be discovered.

But impoverished countries are not the only ones that experience political persecution. Political retaliation against rivals has also occurred in advanced nations. Examples include the Watergate crisis that occurred during the presidency of Richard Nixon and Donald Trump’s retaliatory activities against his rivals, including Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. These stories demonstrate how political persecution and acts of revenge may take place even in mature democracies.

Allegations of fraud, corruption, tax evasion, and poor governance are often leveled against government officials and programs. Political leaders are often held responsible for their acts under robust accountability frameworks. However, political interference, judicial laxness, bureaucratic assistance, institutional apathy, or political expediency has hampered this procedure in Pakistan. The political elite often avoid prosecution for corruption, which undermines public confidence and prevents effective accountability.

Despite the fact that political retribution is often linked with military or autocratic regimes, Pakistan’s military administrations, which were created under the ideology of necessity, made an effort to include democratic aspects. Despite bringing about socioeconomic progress and order, the persecution of political figures like Fatima Jinnah, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, and Benazir Bhutto overshadowed the military regimes. The military held sway over important state institutions as a result of this persecution, which diminished the accomplishments of the military governments and maintained a politico-military hybrid system.

In Pakistan, successive administrations, especially the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (N), have relentlessly pursued political victimization and mudslinging against one another. This gave the military establishment a chance to interfere and enact regime changes, maintaining the syndrome of military reliance. The politicization of state institutions undermined merit-based hiring practices and hampered effective administration, aggravating political victimization in Pakistan.

According to Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center, “What makes this current situation unprecedented is the backdrop of other serious crisis,” adding further “Pakistan doesn’t have the luxury of saying this political crisis is a distraction, eventually we’ll get back to where things need to be.”

In Pakistan, the politics of revenge have created a stagnant political environment that has hampered socioeconomic development and fostered immoral behavior. The youth’s ensuing despair and hopelessness might lead to extremism and social collapse. Respect for the law, the rule of law, and fair justice are essential for restoring normality. In order to ensure justice and stability, the military and judiciary must contribute. These state institutions have some level of popular confidence.

Maintaining the constitution and the rule of law is the key to restoring normalcy in a country like Pakistan, which has a low human development index, appallingly low literacy rates, and a highly polarized political system. These should be used as instruments of justice and fair play to build much-needed order and stability, rather than as weapons of prejudice and hostility to silence the opposition.

The military and the courts are once again at the center of the nation’s aspirations in this drive for stability. The public continues to have faith in and confidence in these two governmental institutions. The work at hand is not simple, however. Despite obstacles and limitations, the superior judiciary, presided over by Chief Justice Ata Bandial, has been able to render decisions that are in line with the constitution, emulating the illustrious rulings of Charles Evans Hughes, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, who frequently challenged Roosevelt’s administration by overturning unconstitutional legislation.

The people have a responsibility to ensure that the court’s decision is accepted and maintained now that the judiciary has spoken. Unfortunately, it seems that none of the establishments, including the complaining parliament, the uneasy president, the reluctant bureaucracy, and the non-political institution, will accept the decision.

The military also has a tough time since it is always under fire for allegedly manipulating political circumstances in the past, which has constrained its choices. The ensuing pandemonium gives the establishment little space for movement, making it harder for it to maintain its delicate balance. Keeping a distance and doing nothing are also not good alternatives since doing nothing strategically not only increases the impression of guilt but also fuels an upsurge in anti-army sentiment.

The military leadership must thus accept the challenge and work to resolve the present political deadlock. Their concerns about receiving backlash or having their authority challenged by a popular administration may be the cause of their reluctance. But now is the time to abandon their pretended apolitical position and put the needs of the nation first. They must serve as mediators between Pakistan’s rival political parties.

The military can help reduce political tensions and guarantee that free and fair elections take place by expertly handling this challenging scenario, giving much-needed political stability and order. To achieve economic security and stability, this is a prerequisite. The Army must support popular opinion and try to put an end to disorder and unrest in order to be on the right side of history. If not, ultimately, the populace may rise up and fight for their legal rights, sparking a tumultuous revolution that will hold everyone responsible through a system of justice and accountability.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Coverpage’s editorial stance

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