Sunday, March 16, 2008

On Pakistani "Establishment" Part Deux (Men in Tights)

I have been wondering about the concept of "Pakistani Establishment" for a while and I think it would be worthwhile to write an essay on it so I can explore the concept and do some research to enhance my understanding of this beast. A recent poll on prompted me to write the following comment (I have added to it here and fixed spelling mistakes).

I believe there is no such thing as an “establishment” in Pakistan in the sense that it exists in other entrenched nations (The British Establishment, the Anglo-American establishment)

You see, establishment, aside from being a mindset, is a coalition of behind-the-scenes actors that give stability to the nation or country or empire (a common entity and set of values to be protected) so that the concept can endure.

In Pakistan, what we have is a ‘focus of privilege’ like a show-biz search light and as long as you are under that spot-light you are in the “in group” but once you are used up.. you are just another used tissue paper.

Look at the “ex servicemen society”, if these people comprised of “the real mccoy”, no sitting president could call them useless POS! The establishment, by definition, is stronger than a single institution.

But the converse is not necessarily true. Something that is stronger than an existent overt institution is not necessarily (or by default as it were) “the Establishment’ in the *cough* established *cough* sense of the word.

An establishment, when it is strong, stops institutions from crossing certain lines. Because it’s own survival is attached to a set of rules such that the playground in which the Establishment exercises it’s hegemony is not destroyed by some of the participants.

In Pakistan, we don’t have an establishment, we have a loosely tied network of individuals which use the coercive powers of the state at the behest of external establishements - especially British - for aims which can only be termed suicidal. I believe Dr. Ayesha Siddiqua called just the military segment of this privileged class "suicidal kleptocracy" or some such.

You see, you need an identity and a set of values for an establishment to protect (as it nibbles away at the sweet wealth secreted by the worker bees) ..

An establishment ‘gels’ around an identity. Identity is something dynamic, but it provides the substrate upon which the establishment spreads its roots and provides the anchor for a society and a set of unwritten rules that the various actors more or less agree to.

We don’t have any of that because we haven’t even agreed upon an identity yet. And the military-bureaucratic complex in Pakistan has proved to be a bunch of sissies and given NO resistance to foreign strategic meddling in the indentity formation process which was key after the creation of the new state of Pakistan.

So, we don’t have an establishment, we have a loosely tied group of vultures (imo) all bound together by petty and short-sighted self-interests who do not have interests in a long term Pakistan and whose “retirement” plans include lives in lavish villas in europe and in the americas as rewards for loyalty to the interests of the foreign estabilshments.

Previouslly, on as well, I had posed a question about starting a discussion on not the role, but the definition of this thing they keep referring to as "the establishment".

My contention is that there is no Pakistani Establishment per se. Even Mushahid Hussain (the darbari daanishwar du jour) seems to think that who ever has the levers of bureaucracy is "the new establishment". Which is silly to say the least. We need to differentiate between 'establishment' and 'coercive administrative machinery of the state' because until we do we will not be able to realize that in fact we don't have an establishment. And it won't be such a bad idea to get one.

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