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Ego Problem

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Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned the present government that, unless elections are announced immediately, the result could be the break-up of the country into three parts. This has been said by a person who has been in the know of all strategic information about the security situation for the past nearly four years. If he thinks it is possible, the state of affairs is clearly dire. Or, it is just an over-inflated ego that believes the people of Pakistan are willing to break up the country for his sake?

What is this desperation for power among politicians? A similar trend is seen in India among those who believe they have a privileged right to power and are willing to bring the entire democratic structure down just to prove themselves right even if costs the nation plenty. There are those around the world who will even trash carefully constructed constitutions and conventions to retain power. This is what has led persons like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping to acquire the destructive power they hold not just over their own countries but also the world.

Pakistan’s democracy is, of course, largely a cosmetic one with real power in the hands of the Punjab dominated Army. This means that not only is there a separatist trend in each of the other provinces, but also a continuing battle between the civilian and military establishments. Add to this the poison of Islamic fundamentalism and it becomes a potent and destructive mix. The only cementing factor is the cultivated hatred for India that seeks to overcome, ironically, the inherent fascination for it. While Imran praises India’s self-reliance and independent foreign policy, the Sharifs pragmatically favour trade and commerce with it. It is only the Military that continues to stoke hostility and cross-border terrorism so that it can remain in pre-eminent position.

If all those wielding power in these different ways were truly concerned about their country, it would not be so hard to arrive at a consensus on the way forward in the presently difficult economic circumstances. It’s just their egos and vested interests getting in the way. Should, as Imran says, the people be asked to make a choice? Or, is it better for tempers to cool down over the next year to seek a mandate? Or, should a country be in a continuous state of elections as in India, where on the same day the Congress can be utterly humiliated in Champawat and resoundingly victorious in Kerala? How is the quest for power to be channelised for the good of all?