Corruption, the People, and the Army

It will be worth examining where these three mesh.

a.” Survival of the Fittest” is a drive basic to man. Once survival is assured, this drive over-extends and becomes the urge to dominate. This urge, to be fulfilled, needs accumulation of power. And all things being equal, power comes from wealth.

b. Generally, through the ages, total wealth in society is limited, and has increased very slowly. All members of a society want a part of this pie. Those who win out become rich. But because this pie is essentially limited, to create one rich person, thousands need to be impoverished and held in this state. If the poor are not “held” in the state of their poverty, they can encroach on the wealth of the rich man. And this threatens to create a “power shift” which is not to be allowed to take place.

c. To keep a rich man in a state of plentitude, and to keep the poor perpetually so, laws have to be devised, and organizations made to implement the “rule of law”.

d. The conglomeration of laws which exerts itself to make this “rich-poor” divide permanent is what creates “structural” corruption in society, the ultimate aim of which is to keep power, and thus wealth, confined to as few hands as possible. This ” structural corruption” is the legalization of corruption to favour the monied class. This is what we call a rule by “SROs” i.e a legalization of illegalities. Individual corruption a la Zardari and N.S is played out WITHIN the larger circle of class corruption in this “structure.” A good example of the nexus between “structural” and individual corruption, is the mechanism of our “circular debt.”

e. The greater the gap between the rich and the poor, the more unstable society will be, because the poor have little stake in the system, and they are constantly striving to increase their share of the pie, while the primary goal of the rich is to keep the poor in a state of poverty, and to keep enhancing their own wealth without sharing it. They achieve this by consistently legalizing ever more illegalities, and by further impoverishing the state through individual robbery assisted by total immunity. This tension between the aims of the rich and the poor, and its build up, which is ever threatening an eruption, creates a state of potential instability in society. This is a state of injustice ensured by “laws”. Studies show that only those societies make progress where the inequalities between the rich and the poor are the least, and their laws ensure this. Thus the “rule of law” has different connotations in different societies.

f. The evolution of structural corruption has reached what is politely referred to in our age of neoliberalism [of rabid unhindered capitalism] as “elite capture.” This term is new but elite capture has been the driving force in society for centuries. From within a society this drive to enhance wealth has frequently extended to the physical capture of resources of other peoples. This was called imperialism. Today physical capture of distant lands has become unacceptable for various reasons, but the desire to own the resources of another people has not waned. Today feeding off the wealth of another people is called financial imperialism, and free flow of capital from one state to another is the main tool of this type of imperialsim. In this new version of imperialism states try and empower their oligarchs to raid and capture resources of other countries. In such cases the oligarchs of the “victim” states assist the aggressor oligarchs who make such raids, because oligarchs of the world stand united in this latest phase of totally unregulated capitalism. States which do not allow such open raids on their resources, by oligarchs of third states, are considered enemies of the neoliberal world order, and either their governments are toppled, or they are subjected to physical war. China and Russia are considered enemies of the West because among many things, they do not allow their resources to be raided by Western oligarchs, and Putin is considered an enemy because though he allowed a few Russian oligarchs to flourish, he brought to an end raids on Russian assets by western oligarchs.

h. In most societies the army has held a place of honour and respect. The main reasons for this are two:

— For centuries it was the military on which the security of society and state have depended.
— In the very discharge of his duty, the sacrifice expected from a soldier was higher and nobler than that of a member of any other profession. BUT what neither the soldier nor most others in society in general were consciously aware of was, that the army was the last bulwark in society which was meant to secure the rich man and his riches against the hopes and exertions of the poor.

The generality of Pakistanis kept their expectations pegged to the opposite assumption i.e that the army was there to secure their rights, to defeat corruption, from which all other ills of society were born, and to usher in an era of justice. That is why in his inaugural speech every military dictator promised an end to corruption, and so his takeover was greeted with hope and applause.

But as a people born of centuries of servitude, we had a weak moral ethos to begin with, and this kept eroding with the passage of years. The army being insular, the people were not aware of this erosion in its ranks, and thus their expectations of their army did not give ground.

This changed with Musharraf’s NRO which almost formally legitimated corruption. This did not fail to affect the military culture and the rot began with the High Command and seeped slowly downwards. As the generals became progressively vested in the fruits of corruption, economic hollowing out of the country ceased to be seen as a national security imperative. Concurrently, corruption, instead of being looked askance, and began to be cultivated, and integrity among the highest ranks became a rarity. This is the point where the High Command changed sides. From standing with higher national interests they transitioned to standing with narrow personal ones and with all those who stood on that side of the divide i.e the Zardaris and the Sharifs and those of their ilk.

Traditionally generals have brought dishonour to their rank in the conduct of battle. But it was given to our lot to get there by standing with thugs and pimps.
It is the awareness of this corruption among the people of Pakistan, and what it has done to society and the state, which has brought the army and the people face to face in a confrontation which both cannot win.

The High Command needs to back down or be swept away. If not today, then tomorrow. It is therefore time that it took pity both on itself and on the people it has so grievously wronged. It is time for them to bow out, and take Qazi Faiz Isa and Sikander Sultan Raja with them.

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