Advice to Egypt: Don’t trust your Generals!

Published: July 5, 2013
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Millions celebrated the forceful ouster of President Morsi via fireworks, banners, chants and slogans. PHOTO: REUTERS

Yesterday was all about Egypt. News channels across the globe were thronged with surreal images of Tahrir Square. Millions celebrated the forceful ouster of President Morsi via fireworks, banners, chants and slogans. Army helicopters draped in the national flag made rounds over the crowd, symbolising more the army’s unison with the protestors than providing aerial security.

Photo: Reuters

Morsi’s political dominance lasted a year, and came to a screeching halt after the rather humorous deadline of 48 hours given to him by the army to get his act together.

Photo: Reuters

Did General Sisi and his loyal comrades truly believe that Morsi and the rest could do away with political tantrums in a mere two days after a year of disagreement? Or was this deadline a mere spectacle to divert the attention of locals and foreigners eyeing the political situation closely, from planning and executing a coup that in most cases is done months in advance? We will never know and the purpose of this article is not to answer that question.

Photo: Reuters

However, one wonders what the implication of Egypt’s coup will be on our beloved country that has witnessed a barrage of similar military coups, and who knows, might witness even more.

There are reasons to believe that a military coup is impossible in Pakistan, given the prevalent times of free and fair judiciary, thriving democracy and an independent media. Those who firmly believe that would have also failed to notice the pun that was intended three times in the last line.

As a nation, unpredictability oozes from our blood. Take our country’s cricket as an example. Whereas other teams invest heavily in producing brilliant cricketers like Sangakkara, Pieterson and Kohli, our respective authorities work on a formula that is characteristically Pakistani in nature; trial and error. Try, try and try until it works, and when that fails too, try again.  Only in Pakistan can a player like Shahid Afridi make comebacks at such impressive rates. How wrong of me to think that he was done and dusted the last time he was dropped from the squad but, then again, welcome to Pakistan.

If you’re judging me for digressing from politics to cricket without any correlation between them, I apologise for being a novice. Only Imran Khan can switch from cricket to politics successfully in this country, not me, not even in my discourse.

Let’s switch back to politics. Ah yes! It is indeed a delight to see that our politics are also full of Shahid Afridis. Boom boom Sharif, tried two times earlier and back again. The resilience is commendable. I did not vote for those in governance, so I am not responsible for the direction this country is taking. It is my duty as a Pakistani to back off from all the decisions that have hampered the progress of this country and rest the blame on ‘the others’. It was not me!

But I digress again.

Coming back to the question that I intended to answer initially, is there a possibility of a military coup in Pakistan in context of what has happened in Egypt? The answer is yes. The case of Egypt has for one provided an impetus to the pro martial law faction of our society. Although much is being done to curb the menace of martial law locally, an international precedence has been set, which dictates that the room for a military coup still exists even in this day and age if governments fail to deliver.

Contenders to this argument would also suggest that Pakistan’s experiences of military rule have left such a sour taste in the mouth that it cannot be easily forgotten, and that institutions in Pakistan are now vibrant enough to openly and collectively oppose any form of intervention to democracy. Their argument is valid, but it is also true that events leading to a military coup do not follow a logical path. It takes just one act, one spark to light a whole forest.

Can we deny the possibility of circumstances where people, fed up with the deteriorating security situation and inflation, refuse to stay peaceful at the behest of the government? If not, then what?

Besides, it does not necessarily have to be a coup that follows the model of its predecessors. Just like in Egypt, the ouster of the government is possible here in tandem with institutions that are, at least on paper, far more credible than the government. Need I remind you of the rumours of the Bangladesh model arising when Mr Tahir-ul-Qadri was having some fun with our elected representatives?

Also, steps taken locally to curb military coups are humorous to say the least. What follows is a rather lame summation of what is happening currently to deter the future of martial law in our country. But it is hoped that it accurately depicts the irony and hopelessness of the actions that are being taken.

So, treason is committed by man A, the case against him pursued by man B, who ironically supported the same kind of treason previously. And then there is man C, who validated man A’s treason the first time, but not the second because that affected him personally. And so, not surprisingly, man B and man C decide to pursue the second treason only, because the first time it was okay! My sympathies are with man A, living a life in an exquisite farmhouse as a crime for his heinous acts.

Somewhere in our history, a mistake was made in deciphering the meaning of Pakistan. It is the ‘land of the pure and unpredictable’. There is no country like us. We are unique, and I like that.

I also believe that Adidas should officially sponsor our country; in Pakistan, impossible is truly nothing.

And finally, to my Egyptian brethren witnessing history-in-the-making in their country, I advise the following: stay put, keep the pressure, and do not give much leverage to your beloved general. They have a tendency to really prolong their stay, but then again, that might be my Pakistani bias kicking in. In any case, best be cautious!

 Follow Taimur on Twitter @TaimurF 

Taimur Ahmed Farooq

Taimur Ahmed Farooq

An Economics and Political Science graduate from LUMS, working as a management associate at USAID's Agribusiness Project. Taimur is also a musician who plays the drums. He tweets at @TaimurF

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.