Pakistanis are against the Establishment or in its favor? Talking to common men they would say that they Love The Army, the leader of the so-called establishment in Pakistan. But the political history of Pakistan is very interesting. Any Pakistani leader may that be Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto or Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif or Imran Khan or Maryam Nawaz; their crowd pulling capacity exceeded all expectations when they started targeting the establishment in their political rhetoric. This trend suggests that the common man displays his political anger or support by reaching out to political gatherings of leaders who at least in their public discourse are anti-establishment.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto before turning completely anti-establishment was able to fill Nasir Bagh. But when he was confronted by the establishment, his rhetoric attracted a crowd, filling Qaddafi Stadium.
Imran Khan three months ago being PM could muster only 15000 people in his hometown Mianwali. But as he started challenging local and international establishments after NCV, he was able to muster 60000 people of Mianwali without any formal arrangements. The same happened anywhere he went and claimed that he was dethroned by the local and international establishments. The impact of anti-establishment and anti-American rhetoric can be seen during the last By-Elections, where PTI won 15 seats out of 20, even though Mr. X, Y, and Z were doing all they could but to no avail.
The anti-establishment feelings were owned by Bengalis and they got separation (Independence) from Pakistan. That feeling was transferred to Baluchis in 7ties, which is at its peak as we speak. Their so-called separatist movement is using female Suicide Bombers and that is specular. Sindhies after the judicial murder of ZAB openly blamed largely Punjabi and within the military establishment. They were never interesting blamed Americans, now their biggest support. The martyrdom of BB was blamed on General Musharaf, then COAS. Letters were written by her to Americans telling her who might kill her. Henry Kissinger threatened ZAB and PPP keeps repeating it when they can but never blamed Americans for ZAB’s exit.
Pakhtuns after the Afgan war was ethnically profiled and PTM gave anti-establishment protest and sloganeering a new dimension. JUIF, a Deoband politico-religious party, with a mostly South KP support base, has joined the ranks of anti-establishment. They were frontline soldiers of the establishment during Afghan Jihad since 7ties. ANP was never pro-establishment and still is the case.
Prior to Nawaz Sharif’s ouster Punjabies were not known to be anti-establishment. His ouster resulted in the anti-establishment wave in central Punjab, which was alien to them even. PTI voters mostly Pashtuns and urban educated Punjabis were not anti-establishment till recently. That has changed now. They have given the anti-establishment campaigns a new and brutal direction on social media causing permanent headaches for everyone. The lack of fear shown by the PTI diaspora in their anti-establishment campaigns has a mysterious shadow on it. Now even Retired Army Officers supporting PTI and PMLN are also openly critical of Army and its leadership.
This should be a worrying factor for all. Establishment think tanks need to do something really dramatic to turn the tide or the page they say they are on with civilian leadership.