A very strange situation is brewing on our borders, and as the focus shifts to Pakistan and its internal conflicts, we will find many power centres below the surface. This is a nightmare for anyone in governance.
We do see some hope for peace in Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. After a series of PR sessions, talk shows on TV, and coverage in print made little impact, and a nervous twitch began appearing in her near-perfect appearance, it is a good thing that she is now talking of peace after branding us ‘warmongers’. Media reports say the MEA will consider her offer. Even as the Pakistan DGMO counsels restraint, there have been two incidents on the LoC as I write this. In this situation, everyone will adopt a wait-and-watch attitude.
The million-dollar question is to determine who is in charge in Pakistan. Look at the chaos as an imported cleric from Canada, Faisal Qadri, praises the armed forces and judiciary, issues notice to the government on corruption, and demands that the PM resign. But he has had a billion-dollar campaign across the media for his ‘rally of millions’. Who is behind this holy man and his unlimited assets? The Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court has indicted the prime minister, but he is considered suspect and openly criticised. Some very negative views are expressed on his intentions; clearly, the rule of law does not exist as we understand it. No surprise then that the prime minister has not been arrested and refuses to resign. Elections are due in a few months and many hopefuls will contest from London or Jeddah while others can be arrested at any time. We have heard little from Imran Khan and his ‘political bouncers’ in the last few days. Where do the army and ISI, the power behind the throne, stand in this confusion?
The global community is not going to buy the standard argument as there are very few secrets in the system. Pakistan is prone to political and military accidents. When the rule of law does not prevail, it is difficult to set even a short-term agenda and while everyone will say the right thing—MEA exists for this purpose—we have no option but to remain on full alert. Terror is the only industry in Pakistan. Should we be surprised that Pakistani small arms, ammunition and landmines are being smuggled into India along with fake currency? These are acts of terror. There are many political groups and there may be many terror groups. There is a possibility that we could see diverse groups emerge in the army and ISI as uncertainty grips the system.
The last few days have got everyone thinking. I think the political system has done well and shown a remarkable unity in approach. This is a true reflection of the sentiments of the aam aadmi who has zero tolerance on these issues. We will need new laws on terrorism, especially on ‘sleeper’ units within the country and for those who assist terrorists from Pakistan. The brutal treatment meted out to our two soldiers has changed the way we think, and like the gang-rape and murder of Nirbhaya, this will result in many a change at all levels of governance and within civil society.
Things have changed in 2013. The aam aadmi is putting everyone on notice, and a series of tragic accidents are triggering changes within the political system. While we look at politics in a conventional manner, we cannot rule out the possibility of ‘accidents’ which can trigger change in the system. Let us be honest about the last two incidents. The truth is that gangrape and murder have taken place before and many given clemency in the immediate past came into this category. Pakistan has brutalised our soldiers earlier and the last incident was in 2011 but in both these cases the attitude of the aam aadmi was very different from the past and all three wings of governance had no option but to respond positively and in good time.
The point I am making is that besides the ballot, the aam aadmi has many other methods now to affect change and for this, the social media and the rapid spread of the electronic and print media deserve a great deal of credit.
Nehru is a former Union minister