Politics of hate: Pakistan edition…

December 1, 2017
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How politicians worldwide are playing on all kinds of sentiments to grab power.

Khurran Hussain has a terrific piece on state of politics in Pakistan. THings have hardly changed much in the country with politics only getting worse with time:

THREE critical vulnerabilities have been exposed in the last few years when dharna politics has taken centre stage in the country. Each one is a threat to system stability in crucial ways, and taken together, they are cause for grave alarm.

These vulnerabilities are: the underlying conflicts, particularly faith-based ones, that are swirling in our society just below the surface where formal politics plays itself out, the vulnerability of the polity to dharna politics that can bring the country to a standstill with only a handful of people, and lastly the critical choke points in the economy that, if plugged, can shut down the movement of food and fuel, with potentially catastrophic effects.

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The second major vulnerability has been exposed by the repeated shutdowns of the capital through sit-ins. The process began with the dharna of Tahir-ul-Qadri in January 2013. Long marches to the capital have a longer history in our politics, with the PPP launching one each in 1992 and 1993, both abortive. Nawaz Sharif launched his in 2009 to demand the restoration of the chief justice, also abortive since the demand was met before his caravan got past Gujranwala.

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The third vulnerability is equally critical. Pakistan has one port city with two functioning ports. On Saturday night a small sit-in was getting going on the KPT flyover outside Karachi port, where all oil and container traffic goes. The sit-in was persuaded to leave by Sunday morning, but if they had succeeded, they could have shut down much of the country’s oil imports as well as external trade. A small disruption in the fuel supply chain due to the spread of the sit-ins around the country this time led to a small-scale shortage and panic buying of petrol in Lahore within 24 hours.

A 48-hour disruption of oil movement can shut down all vehicular traffic in the cities within days. With this shutdown comes food movement, again within a few days. A truly determined group, with backing from powerful quarters, can potentially shut down the country and create food shortages in the cities within a week.

Now put the pieces together and look at the picture that emerges. A cut-throat power struggle at the top of the political pyramid, coupled with the disproportionate power that has just been handed to individual preachers with small and medium-sized congregations, and the fragility of our food and fuel logistics and choke points in our external trade mean the potential to hold the country to ransom with ease has been thoroughly exposed, and it is truly frightening to contemplate where this could take us.

What is even amazing is how newspapers in Pakistan are able to write such stuff against the State…

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