by Adnan Khalid Rasool
Based on the political events of the last 10 days, one of the most commonly asked questions in Pakistan is:
‘What is going on?’
As in what is going with the whole Qadri parade, what is up with Bilawal’s launch, and generally what on earth is going on in Pakistan?
Simply put, there are two sides going up against each other and all of these events, or whatever you want to call them, are just parts of that.
Who are these sides and what are they after?
One side to all this is the establishment.
For the last five years, the establishment has played one hand after another against a democratically elected government but failed, as for once, the largest opposition parties refused to play along with them. So a year ago, they launched their own horse in the race who initially did very well but later fizzled out like most of the establishment’s schemes.
The establishment learnt from this failed experiment and went back to the drawing board and came up with Tahirul Qadri. Tahirul Qadri, already having played a pawn multiple times in the establishment’s miscalculated moves, jumped right back on the horse and rode in promising to change the system. But as is the case with most of the establishment’s experiments, he came, he saw and he backed off from what he said.
So one side to this fight is these guys, but why are they doing this?
The answer to that is actually very simple but not very commonly discussed.
What the establishment is after is something dubbed as the ‘Bangladesh formula’. For years, our army and their army have been messing around in politics without much success. No matter how many times they took over, they were always kicked out eventually and in this process they ended up earning a bad name. But about four years ago, the Bangladeshi army finally cracked the code to solve this complicated riddle. The play was that the army does not get involved; instead a caretaker government needs to be formed that would include all branches of the state including judiciary and the military.
This way the army would get a seat on the table, but it would not be the bad guy as the caretaker government would make it a ‘joint effort’. And just to make things more ‘legitimate’, smaller insignificant parties would be invited to become part of the caretaker setup. That would then decide the rules for elections which would be delayed from their actual date as the new structures being designed just happen to take about two years to complete.