Recently, a famous Pakistani journalist, author, and TV personality (I do not have the liberty to release his name and his institution he belongs in my articles without his permission) visited the San Francisco Bay Area to record one of his TV shows. He was invited by a local businessman where I was also invited. I asked him about the situation in Pakistan and the direction where the country is drifted by the military, which is now controlling more than they ever controlled during the weak civil governments. He said that the middle class in Pakistan is growing and it is struggling to take the space in the power which is heavily controlled by the military. He said that the system in Pakistan in which the Army wants the maximum power and wants the civilian governments to work as its client is eventually going to fail because this type of system is never successful anywhere in the world. The middle class will take over control of the country and the military. He said that Imran Khan, who although represents the middle class but he is in trouble because he has relinquished the power to Army and relying on them to keep him in power. I asked what if Khan eventually fails the people who he represents? He said that in that case he will be replaced, but this struggle will continue until the middle class would takeover.
On my drive home I start analyzing my conversation with a Pakistani system’s insider and asking the question to myself that if it is all true, how long it will take for the so-called growing middle class to take over the country? What will be the threshold where one would declare the victory of the middle class over the all-powerful Army? And last but not least, would the Army ever allows the society to reach that level of power which may be the threshold? Army’s weapons are not the guns only, they even have a bigger weapon which they use effectively to encroach everywhere and cut all other stakeholders in power in size, and that weapon is the self-defined patriotism. Not only they use it on the masses to quash any demand by the people but also their cohorts and clients in the mass media use it to shake the guilts of the common people and put them on the backfoot.
I came home and went to bed and closed my eyes. I was preoccupied with the same thoughts and I don’t know when I slept.
The next day was Monday so I woke up early. I walked through my living room where my electronic calendar was showing August 5, 2019. During my breakfast, I opened my computer and start looking at my tweets. My twitter timeline was full of discussions about the annexation of Kashmir by Mr. Modi, who successfully revoked the special status of Kashmir and declared Laddakh as a union territory of India. Senior journalists and other media people were commenting on the rising tension. Everyone was speculating about the emergency meeting in the PM house, where PM Imran Khan was discussing the development with his Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, the Army, Airforce and Navy Chiefs, the Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence. Pakistan Ambassador to New Delhi, Pakistani Ambassadors to other important countries, and Pakistani Ambassador to the UN were connected via the video link. The meeting was going on for the last 6-7 hours. The joint parliament was also in the emergency session which was in progress without any lunch or dinner break. All the government and opposition members and Senators were not only condemning India’s action in one voice but also assuring the government that they are all standing behind any decision the government will take. The media channels were having uninterrupted special transmissions where they were having experts, ex-military strategists and former diplomats, who were educating the people about the Kashmir issue and creating awareness about the history and about the reasons, why Pakistan should be standing behind Kashmiris.
I got to work and got busy with my daily routines. Around noon when I checked the news, I found that the meeting in the PM house was still going on but the military commanders went back to their headquarters. The big news was that the PM would address the nation from the parliament floor and tell the parliament and the people about the next step in the government’s policy. I checked again around 5 pm but there was no new development other than the announcement that the Foreign Minister has flown to China to start his tour to the world capitals to upraise the world leaders about Pakistan’s next move.
Around 9 pm Pakistan time, Prime Minister Imran Khan walked into the parliament floor. He was accompanied by the Defense Minister and the opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif and the leader of the third-largest party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The PM told the parliament that he ordered the military to move towards the Line of Control, in the forward attack position and a team of Foreign Office is already dispatched to tell Pakistan’s position and India’s accesses in Kashmir. He also told that he is leading another delegation, consisting of his close advisors and aides which is going to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, England, and the US. A parliamentary delegation led by the opposition leader would also go to the UN and protest about the Indian actions.
The next 10 days were very tough for the people of Pakistan, but slowly, the pressure on India started mounting. The strong diplomacy was begun and the Pakistan government kept pressure. The Army Chief locked himself in War-Room in the General Headquarters where he is constantly in touch with the field commanders who were commanding the units on the Line of Control, Air Force and Navy Chiefs, the DG Military Operations and the Defence Minister. The Director-General Military Operations were 24/7 connected to India’s DGMO to assure that war would not start because of some misunderstanding. The people in both countries saw their militaries eye-ball to eye-ball before also but this time things were more serious than before. Both countries are under pressure by the world leaders to move their militaries back to ceasefire lines but the PM of Pakistan made it very clear that India has to pull back from its unilateral action in Kashmir, else Pakistan will not have any choice than to move in. Now, top journalists and analysts in India also began pressuring Indian PM to reconsider the move and resolve the issues with dialogue.
On the 30th day of tension – September 5 — the Indian Supreme Court gave the verdict on the appeal filed by some quarters in India, that the sovereign assembly’s laws cannot be changed by the representative assembly so, the rescindment of the article 370 will be null and void. Lots of analysts believed that there was a secret deal where the SC of India’s verdict was used to provide the face-saving to the government. In Pakistan, PM Imran Khan addressed the nation and announced that he already ordered the Army to move back from the forward position and he gave the good news that India also agreed to do the same. The DGMOs from both India and Pakistan were overlooking the pullout. At the end of the speech, he told the people that the resolution of the issue is no one’s victory and the real victory would come when Pakistan and India would resolve the Kashmir issue, acceptable to Kashmiri people, and began the everlasting era of peace and prosperity.
That night, when the PM went to the joint session of parliament he received the stand-up ovation by the whole parliament. In his short speech, he emphasized again that this crisis is no victory or defeat for anyone, and he praised Pakistan military for its professionalism and bravery and people of Pakistan for their courage and the unconditional support by the opposition.
That night when I went to bed, I was feeling very proud of being a Pakistani. I got an answer to my question. The threshold has achieved. This was the place Pakistanis want to see their country. The leadership was demonstrated by the representative of the middle class. Why it could not be achieved before, but although late, but it is achieved now.
The next day, I woke up early to go to work. During breakfast, I looked into my twitter timeline, I found the routine political bickering, talks about growing food inflation, devaluation of Pakistani rupee, saber-rattling between the government supporters and the opposition, PM’s threats about throwing every opposition leader in jail, and the Islamabad lock-down plan of Maulana Fazalur Rehman. I finished my breakfast, walked to my living room, my electronic calendar was showing 21st October 2019.
[Also published in Nayadaur TV: Thirty Days]