Ahmed Rashid, a widely read political commentator, says the multiple crises playing out in Pakistan, which suggest the country’s top institutions are at war with each other, is “a theatre of the absurd” and as a result the country is “teetering at the brink of the abyss”.
Rashid described the present situation as “very difficult, very complicated”, adding “the ordinary man doesn’t understand what’s going on”. He said this is by far the worst crisis Pakistan has faced since 1971, when East Pakistan broke away to become Bangladesh. Mr Rashid argues the present crisis could be worse, because 1971 happened thousands of miles away in the east, a part of the country which west Pakistan always kept a distance from, where as today’s problems are happening in the west and affect everyone in multiple ways.
Rashid, who is the author of Pakistan on the Brink and Descent into Chaos, spoke in detail about the multiple inter-linked crises that are simultaneously playing out in Pakistan. These include the differences between the Supreme Court and the Shahbaz Sharif government over when to hold elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, between the SC and parliament over funds for the elections, between the Shahbaz Sharif government and the SC over the Chief Justice’s suo moto powers and the authority to appoint benches of his choosing, and between Shahbaz Sharif and Imran Khan over when to hold national elections.
Rashid also spoke about what he believes is the Army Chief Gen Munir’s position on these issues as well as the deteriorating economic situation with inflation, he says, approaching 40%.
Finally, Rashid spoke about the deep divisions within the judges of the Supreme Court and attempts to stop Qazi Faiz Isa, the widely respected second senior most judge, becoming chief justice in September.