Jamhoor Editorial

We at Jamhoor strongly condemn the violent and authoritarian crackdowns by Pakistan’s government and military establishment in response to the events that unfolded on May 9th 2023. These actions — including the use of extreme surveillance technologies, internet blackouts, enforced disappearances of dissenting journalists and activists, and prosecution of civilians in military courts — will further entrench the militarization of society and ultimately threaten democratic and progressive forces across the country.

To be clear, we recognize that these actions are far from unprecedented — they have historically been deployed against dissent across Pakistan’s brutalized peripheries in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Gilgit-Baltistan. However, their recent deployment across the nation, with the support of a purportedly democratic government and corporate media, represents a renewed consensus in favor of authoritarianism and military power among Pakistan’s ruling classes. In the context of a country wracked by unprecedented economic and ecological crises, these developments are even more alarming.

We are especially concerned by the establishment of military courts to prosecute protestors and political dissidents. The state has used intrusive and unaccountable cellphone tracking, geofencing, and other surveillance technologies to identify and accuse protestors of rioting, damage to public property, and ‘anti-state’ activities. Many individuals (all civilians) will be tried in military courts with limited rights to due process, legal defense, or appeal.

Rather than opposing the expansion and consolidation of military power, corporate media and the so-called democratic government of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) are short-sightedly celebrating the use of extrajudicial measures to target their political rivals. Their incredible political opportunism speaks to a complete disregard for the people of Pakistan. As the military’s propaganda machine and its corporate media allies roll out a hackneyed ultra-chauvinistic nationalism to justify the crackdowns, we strongly condemn these oppressive measures that threaten the veil of a democratic Pakistani society.

Importantly, in condemning this onslaught against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its supporters, we are not defending the party. We have not forgotten how PTI collaborated with the military and allied entities like the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to secure power, and later to clamp down on its political opponents and progressive forces across the country. Rather, we are taking a stance against the authoritarian state architecture in its entirety. Where individual elements may change as the military reshuffles its alliance with mainstream political parties, this architecture ultimately remains uninterested in fundamentally overturning the structures of imperialism, capitalism, ethnic majoritarianism and patriarchy.

Jamhoor extends solidarity to all those who are struggling against the Pakistani military and the state, who remain defenders of capitalism, imperialism, ethnic chauvinism and patriarchy in the country and across the region.
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