Imran Khan’s decade-long rhetoric of a ‘Forced State’ culminated in May 9 Black Day

UncategorizedImran Khan's decade-long rhetoric of a 'Forced State' culminated in May 9...

Shazia Anwer Cheema

The 9th May Mutiny in Pakistan, also called “May 9 Black Day” 2023 was a series of events when Pakistan witnessed the writ of the State being challenged by the charged mob. It was not the first incident and may not be the last of its kind reference to a charged mob attacking public properties. Nevertheless, it was the first of its nature in which the targets of attackers were military installations and even the monuments of national martyrs.

“May 9 Black Day: Imran Khan’s Rhetoric of a ‘Forced State’ Culminates in Mutiny”

   

The rhetorical version of the agitators may have been driven by many powerful anti-state elements within the society or by the sworn enemies of Pakistan, what I have been figuring out since May 9 2023 is how we as Pakistanis perceive a Nation-State and do we even believe in a social contract between the State and its citizens?

Another question under discussion is what could have triggered such a despicable event.

After deliberating with several students and young individuals I have received the impression that most Pakistanis have never studied the concept of the State and many of them have a very twisted idea about the State. They consider the State a problem machine that is operated by politicians, and powerful civil and military bureaucrats, and the majority of citizens consider themselves not as a part of the State. Many social scientists, writers, and analysts promote the sour relationship between the State and the Citizens as the reason for what happened on May 9 Black Day.

There is no doubt that this kind of negative relationship of Citizens with States is the result of the administrative system that was introduced by the British Raj for its colony of the subcontinent where citizens were herds (like in any invaded land) and the State was the name of civil-military officers and handpicked politicians. This is a harsh fact that civil bureaucracy still operates on the same design and same parameters. So, in their opinion (citizens) “State Machinery” operates only in two dimensions, one to solve all the problems and two to create all the problems. There is no third form of the functionality of the State.

Our enemies who wish to see Pakistan like Iraq, Haiti, Afghanistan, or Libya have been planning and funding home-grown hatemongers, and the May 9th planning was conceptualized as a “Revolution against State”

The majority of the population has never established a cordial rapport with the State, mainly because the State never clearly addressed its citizens, and secondly, the State itself is fostering the concept of its tangibility and concreteness and for the majority of citizens the State is a thing like a machine or a person like a politician or any other individual. This cognitive setting is a perfect breeding ground for hatred against the State and this Fault line is the most vulnerable and easy to expand further.

However, if I consider this narrative that I have mentioned above for finding a reason for the May 9 Black Day events then the attacks should have been against civilian symbols of power like Commissioner offices, Civil Secretariats, and residences of government officials but all 300 attacks were focus only and only to military-related buildings, installations, and vehicles. This factor practically contradicts the justification of the State-Citizen sour relationship.

Our textbooks, our academicians, and our media have yet not told the Citizens that in reality, the State is an abstract idea and thus cannot be targeted and destroyed

Were May 9 Black Day undercurrents deeper than it has been portrayed by so-called social scientists? I believe Yes—they were.  Our adversaries and enemies who wish to see Pakistan like Iraq, Haiti, Afghanistan, or Libya have been planning and funding home-grown hatemongers, and the May 9th planning by such enemies was conceptualized as a “Revolution against State”. The PTI founding Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan recorded a video message a day before he knew that he would be arrested at the Islamabad judicial compound and in this video message he directed his workers who are actually followers of his cult that they would respond to his arrest.

For long Imran Khan has been working extensively to expand the proven fault line between the State and Citizens, so the ground was ripe to place the public against public institutions. Having the twisted idea of State PTI Cult followers targeted persons (moveable) and things (immovable) properties of the institution that had been portrayed as “enemy” of the Citizens.

The problems with developing countries are mainly related to the perception of a State as a single institution, individual, or entity, therefore individuals instead of giving their voluntary functional support decide to function individually

PTI is a textbook example of how ignorance can create a breeding ground for self-destruction. The nourishment of the falsehood against the State provided PTI followers a justification for destruction, demolition, and humiliation. I fear such a situation can arise in the future also because our textbooks, our academicians, and our media have yet not told the Citizens that in reality, the State is an abstract idea and thus cannot be targeted and destroyed hence their actions against tangibles will only lead to the path of self-destruction.

The abstraction of the State is based on three perspectives: idealist perspective; functionalist perspective;  and organizational perspective. The idealist approach to the State is most clearly reflected in the writings of G. W. F. Hegel who identified three ‘moments’ of social existence: the family, civil society, and the State. Within the family, he argues, a ‘particular altruism’ operates that encourages people to set aside their interests for the good of their children or elderly relatives. Hegel conceives of the State as an ethical community underpinned by mutual sympathy – ‘universal altruism’. So the Idealist perspective is a phenomenon for large-scale collective well-being, no single entity or individual is complete enough to be considered as the “State”. All small units work for the welfare of others regardless of self and ego. Functionalist approaches to the State focus on the role or purpose of State institutions. The central function of the State is invariably seen as the maintenance of social order, the State being defined as that set of institutions that uphold order and deliver social stability. The organizational view defines the State as the apparatus of government in its broadest sense.

All three perspectives are intertwined and reflect on a singularity that a State is a social contract based on voluntary actions of collective well-being and maintenance of social order. The organizational structure is a functional aspect for achieving an ideal perspective through which the Nation-State not only operates but progresses and thrives collectively.

A calm, unbiased, and academic evaluation of PTI moves can render that the ideology of PTI is based on anti-state directly envisioned by Pakistan’s enemies. PTI never considers itself as part of the State, it always considers itself as a rival of the State

The problems with developing countries are mainly related to the perception of a State as a single institution, individual, or entity, therefore individuals instead of giving their voluntary functional support decide to function individually. That gives rise to the social behavior of self-centeredness and creates space for the self-serving attitude. When masses start operating for themselves, they disrupt the entire functional operations of a State, and the worst thing is while doing so they find scapegoats to blame for their selfish behavior.

The concept of a New State was coined in the form of “Naya Pakistan” and this has been deeply injected among the masses for the last decade

There is a dire need to tell citizens of Pakistan that a State is a “Social Contract” (that is abstract) made by its members to abide by certain procedural rules to gain benefits such as security, law and order, equal distribution of resources, and opportunity to work in an organized meaningful way. On the contrary, when all the components in a State including its subjects as well as its organizational structure start operation in a self-beneficiary manner the problems within the State create a snowball effect and hampers the entire State machinery.

And that of course creates a fault line to be exploited by the anti-State elements and enemies. They for their cynical agendas reinforce the already twisted idea of a State that the State is concrete in nature and certain elements are “State” they do not like and then they will reconstruct an ideal State according to their wishes. PTI leadership had been injecting the idea among the masses that the “Army is the State” and it is not serving the Citizens therefore destroying the Army is the foremost to create a new State that would be beneficial for the public. Alas, the concept of a New State was coined in the form of “Naya Pakistan” and this has been deeply injected among the masses for the last decade. In PTI’s old narrative, the “State was corrupt Parliament” therefore destruction of the Parliament was the core goal but the diction was changed, and “Parliament” was replaced with “Pakistan Army” so it did not take much effort to indoctrinate the diction, therefore, PTI followers senselessly attacked the “Army”.

Theoretically, the individuals following this idea of “Naya Pakistan” (New Pakistan/State) do not bother to consider themselves a crucial part of the existing State therefore they never pay any heed to their own deeds because they have been told that they are not State rather so and so is the State and demolishing so and so can solve the problem. This ill circle is based on the “Force Theory” of the State, according to which the State itself is an adversary to its citizens and citizens are forcefully complying with the Statehood. Therefore, I always believe that those who are behind designing the moves of PTI are not only cunning but also have huge infrastructures like hugely funded think tanks and enormously sponsored Western Thought Centers.

The demagoguery of charismatic politicians—A leap from the “Imran Khan Cult” to “Imran Khan Faith”

A calm, unbiased, and academic evaluation of PTI moves can render that the ideology of PTI is based on anti-state directly envisioned by Pakistan’s enemies. PTI never considers itself as part of the State, it always considers itself as a rival of the State therefore it must target the sovereignty of Pakistan because Imran Khan propagates that the Social contract between a State and its individuals is a farce and must be replaced with a new contract—- the Naya Pakistan.

There is also a doubt as to what is to be the supreme power in the State: – Is it the multitude? Or the wealthy? Or the good? Or the one best man? Or a tyrant?—Aristotle

 

Shazia Anwer Cheema is an author, and analyst and writes articles for national and international media outlets. She did her M.Phil in Cognitive Semiotics from Aarhus University Denmark and is completing her Ph.D. in Semiotics and Philosophy of Communication at Charles University Prague.

 

Disclaimer:

The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News.

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