Political deterrence – by Ayesha Siddiqa
The main stakeholders in Pakistan on both sides — the government and the establishment — may seem suicidal, but their behaviour may look pretty logical if one were to use the nuclear deterrence lens. Once there is a conflict, the competitors aim to up the ante and push the enemy up the escalation spiral to a point when the weaker party has no option but to consider the use of nuclear weapons. In such an eventuality, it is hoped that the weaker party might actually not push the button due to the bigger fear of total annihilation.
So, what we are watching at the moment is both sides trying to squeeze the other up the escalation spiral. The establishment’s advantage is that it is the most powerful actor, it controls and commands the national narrative, it has built an image for itself as the only alternative institution and looks much more efficient than all other players.
Naturally, a political government that suffers from serious inefficiency and doesn’t know the tricks of creating a counter narrative is a weaker party. For instance, the government’s media team plays a poor defensive game and does not even know how to get on the offensive (this does not mean shouting at people rudely on television programmes). The ruling party’s information team is constantly trailing behind and lacks a plan to protect itself.
If this is to be considered as a game between two players that is Asif Zardari and the establishment then, it is obvious that in his own estimation he has not lost the game as yet. The biggest deterrence he has deployed is the ethnicity card and putting his weight behind the empowerment of the smaller provinces. Some fellow writers believe that the ‘Sindh’ card might work for him if he gives in now. But the fact of the matter is that the Sindh card or the other smaller ethnic card is already operative.
From the lens of a common Baloch, Sindhi or Pashtun, Zardari is being punished for bringing about the 18th amendment. While all attention in Islamabad is focused on the articles pertaining to the judges, the said amendment will also bring about the much-awaited empowerment of the smaller provinces. Interestingly, the bulk of the ‘free and vibrant’ media in Pakistan does not care to flag that aspect of the 18th amendment.
For the very ordinary man in Sindh, in particular, there isn’t much of an option besides the PPP. ….
Read more : The Express Tribune