By Shock and Awe!

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When regime change was brought about in April 2022, my immediate reaction was to determine whether this was the result of a blunder, or of betrayal.

If it was the result of a political blunder, i.e., a misjudgement, that Imran Khan was politically weak enough to be overthrown, and that this overthrow could be sustained, the generals could have walked us back to the status quo ante. Surely no one could be unpatriotic enough to keep reinforcing a disaster and pushing the country ever deeper into it, even after the realisation of a disaster having been committed!

Walking Pakistan back or ensuring immediate elections would have minimised the damage.
But if the generals failed to take this course, one would have to conclude that the overthrow came as a result of betrayal i.e. of a sellout, which ruled out the possibility of course correction. In this case, they would be inclined to thwart the public outcry by seeking recourse to repression, by resorting to Shock and Awe!

The course the generals took would determine whether history would cite them for their incompetence or their treachery. Though they could be cited for both.

The people did not take long to learn the truth. Seventy-five years of reverence for and faith in the army had made this their second nature. The descent of the generals from probity to venality was gradual. One plot at a time. But the people were not entirely aware of this decline, being like the proverbial frog on “slow-boil”. But when the generals imposed the thugs on them overnight, this frog was thrown into boiling water from which came total and sudden awareness. Only then did the extent of the nexus between the thugs and generals become known without being undermined by doubt.

The public reaction to the overthrow was outrage, as could have been predictable. The reaction of the generals has been equally predictable as well. They have dug in their heels and are stubbornly refusing to wake up to the awareness of the people.

Used to not being contradicted by their subordinates the generals are aghast that the people, so long their subordinates, are daring to challenge them….. for calling out their motives and their shifty and shifting narratives, and for pointing them out as the liars they have proved to be. The people thus have to be taught a lesson.

And so the generals have fallen back to the standard reflex of disciplining the recalcitrant…in this case a better part of 225 million people. And since disciplining is best done by meting out punishment, and so we have this most shameful and unprecedented wave of repression against the people, for whose defence the generals, in theory at least, exist.

The generals have chosen a full-scale resort to Shock and Awe. This rising wave of repression has raised from suspicion to near certainty, the speculation that the reaction of the generals has been actuated treachery.

On Apr 21, 2022, I wrote the following:

“The high noon of decision-making in Pakistan is upon those who have created the present disaster. Instead of expending their pitifully inadequate energies, trying to apply meaningless stitches to mend the huge crisis they have created, the Generals need to sit together and answer one fundamental question: i.e ARE THEY WILLING TO DEPLOY THE ARMY TO KILL THE PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN? ”

Sheer hunger has brought this hour of decision much closer today and we are that much nearer to the possibility of starvation driving hungry masses onto the streets and of the generals confronting and subduing them. The options open to them will be to fill the bellies of the people with food or with bullets. Whatever happens, it is almost certain that things will happen much faster than the ability of the combined genius of the generals to control them. There is a fair chance therefore that they will soon find themselves in a situation of mental paralysis if they are not there already.

Thus far all the indications are that the generals have decided to go down “the Burma Road” i.e. eternal rule by juvenile generalship. But surely the more mature among them should be able to realise that our economy is unequal to the task of sustaining a Burma Model. And the best they can hope to achieve by the road taken is some sort of fractured polity of warlordism, split between squabbling jihadi groups funded by some of our thugs, and an army with lost cohesion, led in different directions by blundering generals
Before the national polity is irretrievably fractured, there is still a chance. And that chance lies with humility being allowed a play among our all-conquering generals i.e. the possibility of acknowledgement by them that they have been woefully wrong. They must finally realise that the task they have undertaken is far beyond them, and if pursued, can only bring them more loathing and loss of control even over their commands. They must therefore put together a list of immunities they need for the crimes they have waded into, and also a list of guarantees acceptable to them to back such immunities; ensure the fairest elections possible; and then bow out with the grace they can still muster. They have no other way out, than this.

Without probity, there can be no credibility. And without credibility, no loyalty can be expected. Just recently an army chief retired with part-assets evaluated at better than 12 billion rupees. We all know that without the agency of theft, this accumulation was not possible. But instead of court martialing this officer, the generals have decided to follow policies laid down by him with twice his rigor. Is this not proof of their endorsement of, or complicity in, operation overthrow, and also of acceptance of theft as a norm among the highest ranks of the service?

And this the foundation of credibility on which the generals plan to win the loyalty of their troops and the people at large so that they can push Pakistan along the path of destiny chosen by them towards its further ruin?

Have the generals therefore not based their case of demand for loyalty on the ruins of shattered credibility which they are reinforcing through Shock and Awe?
It must indeed take a very special type of genius to expect success from this brew!