Pakistan’s Deep State – After OBL

By AA Khalid

America Gets Closure

The Deep State in Pakistan received a shock and a major blow with the death of Bin Laden. Under the noses of the Army and Intelligence services the world’s most wanted man resided in idyllic tranquillity, whilst the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan burnt at the hands of an angry and wounded United States. The US constructed its foreign policy based on anger after 9/11, but it should have heeded the words of Benjamin Franklin, that, ‘‘Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame’’. Iraq and Afghanistan will end in shame; America gave up on its own values of liberty and freedom to pursue senseless wars, corrupting its very soul in front of the world’s eyes.

But with the death of the man who can only be described as evil incarnate, will America finally get ‘’closure’’? The wars it seemed was a brutish reaction by the American state and it seems now that the only way America could over get over its obsession with Islam and stop being transfixed on dangerous neo-con visions of ‘’nation building’’ was through the death of Bin Laden.

Bin Laden is gone – now perhaps finally Americans can take a rational look at their foreign policy and being to disengage with the Muslim World so it can tackle real issues that we face as global citizens in the 21st century. Real issues of economic justice, political justice, climate change, political reform, and applying science to solve the world’s problems of energy – these are the problems people all over the world are facing. Indeed, solving these problems will relieve terrorists like Bin Laden of the oxygen that sustains their nihilistic ideology. The US should finally have the moral courage to be a fair arbiter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; it should finally have the moral courage to question the brutal acts of Arab monarchs which it supports and funds with billions of dollars worth of arms. It should revise its policy on drone attacks which only fan the dangerous flames of extremism in Pakistan. America should stop supporting dictators in the Arab World and finally practice democracy in partnership with Arabs rather than simply preaching about it. America should finally have the nerve to be consistent with its own values.

Make no mistake, America needs to change now more than ever and finally confront its hopelessly unjust foreign policy. America has got the cathartic redemption it so desperately desired but now rationality needs to make a comeback in American politics.

Pakistan’s Bleak Future

But what about Pakistan? This marks perhaps the greatest blow to the Deep State in Pakistan. Let’s face it Pakistan is not a normal functioning democracy – it has all the rituals of democracy such as conducting elections but without the spirit and substance. Our political parties are feudal estates owned by families who simply hand the leadership of the party to their sons and daughters. Add to this, the Army which really calls the shots on all the critical policy decisions in Pakistan.

If Zardari’s and the Sharif brothers idea of democracy involves passing power onto their children then I think that sums up the problem of Pakistani ”democracy”.

The idea of a ‘’Deep State’’ is coined and elaborated by Turkish intellectuals who experienced constant army interference in cooperation with a bureaucratic and political elite who kept interfering in civilian politics and kept subverting the democratic process. Gareth Jones describes it eloquently in the Turkish context:

‘’ The “deep state” is made up of elements from the military, security and judicial establishments wedded to a fiercely nationalist, statist ideology who, if need be, are ready to block or even oust a government that does not share their vision.

“They believe they act on behalf of the nation and the state and so may sometimes be willing to ignore the law,” Semih Idiz, a commentator for CNN-Turk and a TDN columnist, told Reuters.

Apply the idea of the ‘’Deep State’’ to Pakistan and the political landscape becomes clearer. It’s not really a democracy; it’s just an exclusive competition for select feudal families who toe the line of the Deep State and the Pakistani Army. Pakistan is a place where the Army has a country not where the country has an Army. The work of Ahmed Rashid and Ayesha Siddiqui, Khaled Ahmed and Ejaz Haider make this abundantly clear.

Why can’t we do the sensible thing and make peace with India? Why can’t we spend a greater percentage of GDP on education? Why can’t we cut our defence spending? Why don’t we even know how many Generals there are in the Pakistani Army? Why can’t we move towards reconciliation with our fellow citizens in Baluchistan and the Northern Areas?

The charade of democracy, where the established parties don’t even hold internal elections is wearing thin now.

It’s funny that Pakistan is a democracy, but the ordinary Pakistani feels so frustrated and so desperate. That’s not right; there is something deeply rotten right at the core of our party system.

The latest failure of the Deep State in Pakistan this time however has made itself an enemy to the world. The whole world now doesn’t trust the Deep State; everyone now is fully aware of the double dealing our military establishment and the continuous subversion it undertakes of the democratic process. Whereas in Turkey, the military had at least a clear cut ideology it consistently enforced (brutally aswell), in Pakistan the military establishment has been more opportunistic. Nowadays, it peddles the theocratic elements in Pakistani politics and aims to quell any real democratic dissent.

Pakistan is an odd nation. It is a country with democratic mechanisms but where democracy fails because of the Deep State; it’s like a bike with no wheels. Pakistan’s establishment has now put the country at grave risk. To international observers, Pakistan is either dishonest or incompetent, and to our domestic nutcases Pakistan has committed the ultimate betrayal, while the ordinary Pakistani just feels this strange mix of humiliation, shock, sadness, happiness (Bin Laden is gone) and bewilderment at the whole affair. In short, Pakistan comes out of this whole sorry affair as a Judas-like figure in the West, while Pakistanis have to ask some deep questions and face brutal retaliation. As ever, normal innocent Pakistani civilians and brave Pakistani soldiers, security personnel and police will pay the price for the establishment’s adventures.

This latest adventure the establishment has taken the country on leads only to destruction. But this latest incident has perhaps delivered a blow to the Deep State internationally and perhaps this will filter through in Pakistan. Time to ask questions and finally confront the demon within.

Real democracy, with intra party elections with a free and fair electoral process and where politicians are not tainted by corruption, feudalism and army collusion is something that Pakistan has never experienced. This latest episode could mark a turning point or watershed moment. It could be the ‘’Eureka’’ moment when Pakistanis realize it’s time for civilian to control the political process and for the soldiers to back to the barracks once and for all.

Without the death of the Deep State all anti-terror measures and reform initiatives will ultimately fail.

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