Above the State? A Quetch!


It seems the Pakistanis live with the most confused state of mind in the world. Most concepts of modern simple political science are either misinterpreted or taught to the general public to make them confused. For instance, let’s take “the state”, the most common topic of political science. We understand the state differently than the world, e.g the Pakistani academia, bureaucracy, political elite, and even journalists often frequently spread misconceptions regarding the state. Did you not ever hear that the state has decided to take stern action against TLP? The state has changed its narrative towards terrorists? The state has entered into an agreement with TTP? Even, Nawaz Sharif, the three times Prime Minister of Pakistan makes a quetch that “there is a state above the state in Pakistan”. The questions like these and many more? Where the word “state” is often reciprocally interchanged with the various authorities i.e police, army, and intelligence agencies?

In order to understand the concept of state, we must first, need to understand basic questions like what a state is? What the basic ingredients of the state are? And, how does a state operate? Etc

Let’s start with the basic definition of a state. “A populace lives in a specific territory, governed by an authority (government) having internal and external sovereignty is called a state”. Modern scholars also include the “international acknowledgment” as one of the ingredients of the state.

The state has 3 main branches/pillars for the dispensation of her work. These are, “the executive” (government), “the parliament” and “the judiciary”. The executive has various subordinate institutions to keep the business of its affairs ran, e.g police, intelligence services, army, local administration, and so on.

Now, we need to address the most important question, i.e how does a state operate?

The basic function of a state is, to enforce the “collective wisdom” of the society. How could we gauge the “collective wisdom”?

Modern scholars think that the “collective wisdom“ could only be enforced by the chosen representatives of the masses. For that purpose, the general elections are held after every five years. The people bestow their trust to their elected members of parliament to enforce “collective wisdom” by making laws as per their aspirations. These laws and policies are enforced by the government.

The government acts only as a representative of the parliament likewise parliament is a representative of the people. The government needs validation of all her acts by the parliament, otherwise, it stands to disqualify.

Now come back to the misconception. We often come across phrases like the government has decided to indulge in talks with TTP, etc? The prime question is to whom do we consider a government? Whether these talks are arranged/initiated by the official representatives that are “elected ministers” or only initiated by the army chief and DGISI? In Pakistan, it is an open secret that the talks/ dialogues with TTP, TLP, terrorists, etc are arranged by and even conducted by the army and security agencies. Neither these agreements are ever presented in parliament for debate nor parliament has the power to summon the draft of such agreement. If the agreement is conducted by the Army and ISI then how could it be called that state has done something?

Because the army, police, ISI, etc are only subordinate institutions that could never be considered as a state. They are state institutions rather be a state. Any decision taken by or any agreement conducted by these institutions has not been attained the same sanctity as taken by the government and acknowledged by the parliament. The reason behind such rationale is that the state shows her intention only through the government. Furthermore, decisions are taken other than the government, eventually undermining democracy. Ultimately, the state losses its respect in people’s hearts, and resultantly its components (constituent units i.e provinces) dismembered themselves from it. The process ends with the annihilation of the state. Bengal (East Pakistan) is an example.

Our conduct has badly destroyed our state image to the world. Such disfigurement may cause us an irreparable loss for the rest of our future. The world, unfortunately, has mi-conceptualized her conduct towards Pakistan too. For instance, the international forces, instead of engaging in dialogue with the state (government) of Pakistan, call on the Army chief for all negotiations. Look at the recent history. The meeting of the Crown of Saudi Arabia, the meeting of American officials, the finalization of American withdrawal from Afghanistan and support of the army for such withdrawal, the support of The Afghan government, dealing with Chinese over CPEC, etc? Even now, the business community inside the country seeks some guarantees for economical stability from the army chief. The list continues and questions arise!

Whether these events are taken in parliament? Whether they are discussed and get approval? Whether the general public is bound to give honor them when they didn’t get the assent from the “collective wisdom”?

What do these incidents suggest? Who is the real state in Pakistan?

The people may have respect for a state only. They may have some affiliations with various departments/institutions. Even they may sometimes give scarification of their lives for these institutions but the only binding force which may tie them in a relationship is a state, not an institution. Because the institution may collapse but the state sustains. To keep a state strengthened, sustainable and inevitable the state needs to first, deconstruct and then reconstruct the concepts that would have in alignment with the world.

The misconception could be avoided by the encouragement of a grand debate across the country. Modern scholars may initiate some steps for the fixation of such misconceptions. The civil authorities especially the government must relinquish her usurped power and refuse to surrender. Furthermore, the government should restore her authority by honoring only those steps taken by her, ratified by parliament, and truly represent the “collective wisdom” of the populace.

The writer is a Bar at law student at Ontario Bar Canada.

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