Recent Events In Pakistan Led To Partial Loss Of Trust In The National Security Narrative
From the perspective of a well-intended outsider who’s closely studied Pakistan’s specific national security challenges, it is indeed the case that the greatest casualty of recent events is the partial loss of trust in the official national security narrative since the country’s officials didn’t present a unified front related to the latest such threat that the former Prime Minister claimed was in motion. These developments are unique in Pakistan’s history and further exacerbate the divide between the population’s respective interpretations of recent events and their relation to national security.
The greatest casualty of recent events in Pakistan, irrespective of whether one regards them as a US-orchestrated regime change or a proud display of constitutional integrity, is the partial loss of trust in the official national security narrative. Leaders come and go, some heroically and others shamefully, but national security is supposed to be enduring, especially in a country that’s as seriously afflicted by such threats as Pakistan is. Its leadership and military-intelligence structures, collectively described as The Establishment in Pakistani parlance, used to have the complete trust of their people whenever they’d inform them of a threat to national security, but that’s regrettably no longer the case right now.
Those who interpret recent events as a US-orchestrated regime change are extremely concerned that The Establishment didn’t intervene to thwart this process by potentially postponing the opposition’s no-confidence motion until a comprehensive investigation could be completed to reassure the public about everything. Meanwhile, those who interpret these same events as a proud display of constitutional integrity are aghast what they believe was the previous Prime Minister’s exploitation of national security narratives for self-serving political reasons in order to cling to power against all odds. There is no middle ground: someone either believes one or the other, and both interpretations appear to be irreconcilable.
This poses a truly unprecedented dilemma for The Establishment since never before has the population been so polarized about the official national security narrative. After all, the country’s prior leader made very dramatic accusations that were backed up by members of his government such as his Foreign Minister. He even held a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the alleged regime change threat that he later revealed was orchestrated by the US as punishment for his independent foreign policy. Pakistanis had hitherto been taught to always take their leaders’ warnings about national security for granted and to never doubt them due to the severity of such threats to their country.
Everyone of course has the right to personally be skeptical about whatever it is that they’re being told, but those who believed the former Prime Minister were reacting exactly as The Establishment had taught them to over the years. Society was already well aware of Hybrid War threats due to their military-intelligence structures’ public awareness campaigns to inform them about the multidimensional forms that they could take. Considering Pakistan’s troubled history of ties with the US and the latter’s documented history of carrying out regime changes across the world through very creative means, it was certainly believable that their former leader was telling the truth. They had no reason to doubt him.
The former Deputy Speaker’s decision to dismiss the opposition’s no-confidence motion on that basis therefore made complete sense to them, who assumed that The Establishment tacitly approved of that happening since they thought that it shared the former Prime Minister’s national security concerns about this scandal. The Supreme Court’s ruling that this was unconstitutional, however, surprised those who were taught to take their leaders’ national security warnings for granted and to never question them since everyone was previously informed that sometimes the average person doesn’t have all the information needed to accurately assess such threats, especially if this information remains classified.
It was therefore with complete shock that these same people then witnessed the sequence of events that followed whereby the former Prime Minister was ultimately removed through the same no-confidence motion that his own government described as playing into the hands of the US’ regime change plot against Pakistan. Similarly shocking to them was that The Establishment didn’t intervene to stop this from happening, which suggested one of two mutually exclusive conclusions: high-ranking members within it associated with this institution’s pro-US school of thought were part of this plot or their former Prime Minister exploited their trust and lied to them for self-serving political reasons.
From the opposite side, those who were always against the former Prime Minister never personally trusted him but for whatever reason went against what The Establishment had hitherto taught them about taking their leaders’ national security warnings for granted. They publicly expressed not just scepticism, but even condemned it as a lie. According to the social standards that were widely assumed to have been in place prior to last weekend’s events, these individuals could have been described as defying The Establishment and potentially even endangering national security, but their narrative now seems credible to some since that same institution didn’t intervene to stop that scandalous process.
From the perspective of a well-intended outsider who’s closely studied Pakistan’s specific national security challenges, it is indeed the case that the greatest casualty of recent events is the partial loss of trust in the official national security narrative since the country’s officials didn’t present a unified front related to the latest such threat that the former Prime Minister claimed was in motion. This observation is indisputable no matter how much some might want to suppress it. It must be acknowledged and responded to in the interests of restoring this partially lost trust in order to sustainably ensure national security the next time that such threats present themselves so that people don’t dismiss it as fake news.
This challenge will be immensely difficult to resolve considering the unprecedented polarization within society in response to the latest events. The former ruling party already proved that their interpretation of patriotism, sovereignty, and national security appeals to a wide segment of the population despite differing from The Establishment’s after inspiring the largest rallies that the country has seen in decades. The former Prime Minister also continues to describe those who replaced him as an imported government and declared the beginning of a peaceful and legal freedom struggle to politically liberate Pakistan from this foreign yoke.
These developments are unique in Pakistan’s history and further exacerbate the divide between the population’s respective interpretations of recent events and their relation to national security. There’s no doubt that the country’s enemies will inevitably attempt to exploit this dynamic, which is why it’s of the highest importance that society returns to unquestionably trusting their leaders and The Establishment whenever they warn about national security threats. This must be the top priority right now for all Pakistanis, both those within The Establishment (including its rank and file) and outside of it. Trust must urgently be restored, but for that to happen, a national dialogue might first be needed.