Is the plate full?
The alleged irregularities in Senate elections and continued international pressure against Pakistan show the country has reached the brink of corruption and political instability
Analysts and commentators on Pakistan are working overtime in their rush to keep up the pace with the flurry of activities happening in the country. March 12 was significant as the Senate held elections for the posts of Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Senate amid raging controversies of blatant sale and purchases of the candidates. This crucial election was described as a knife-edge. This says all. Prime Minister Imran Khan (PMIK), though survived in last Saturday's no-confidence motion, he and his ruling party are yet to recover from the trauma when his finance minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh lost out to opposition PPP candidate, Yousuf Raza Gilani earlier this month. This development led to a trail of introspection but that was temporary and cosmetic. Among other embarrassing issues, PMIK had to face was the video secretly captured showing PTI, then campaigning for the 2018 elections accepting ill-gotten money for canvassing and candidatures.
Some experts, in the meantime, have commented against the government for not being able to streamline the electoral process in the country including whether to go for open balloting or vote through a secret ballot which has encouraged corruption on a huge scale. They find such indifference by the PM as an assault on institutions without offering better and workable alternatives and they were like flogging a horse without any possibility of a useful outcome. A few other academics are recommending a serious introspection by all the political parties as Pakistan faces a tough challenge from multifarious corners in the spheres of terror from the MQM, Baloch and Sindhi activists vying for their freedom of expressions and other legitimate rights.
Meanwhile, amid these developments, former Prime Minister and senior opposition leader, Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi has very recently alleged that PMIK had received a whopping amount of 700 million Pakistani rupees from a well-known Baloch businessman to make him a senator. Abbasi has asked the Election Commission (EC) to take a serious note of it. Maryam Nawaz, senior Vice President of the PML-N has also sought EC's urgent intervention to curb the rising cases of corruption. She, even in a frontal attack on the military, especially, the intelligence agencies, has asked them not to interfere in the domestic politics of the country. Accusations, therefore, continue to hit the ruling establishment and there doesn't seem to be any breathing space for PMIK and his team.
In another sensational happening, threatening peace in Pakistan, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) has disclosed that Texas (US) based, Muttahida Qaumi Movement London (MQM-L) lady activist and long-time aide and confidante of MQM chief, Altaf Hussain, Kehkahan Haider in a message has dared to carry out assassinations of prominent individuals in Karachi to cause confusion and chaos. The March 11 warning has put the counter-terror forces into a state of high alert. In a press briefing, however, senior officials of the CTD claimed that they have irrefutable evidence that the MQM has readied several hitmen and professional killers to target select people to foster a sense of disorder. The CTD further thinks that such plans have the support of the Indian intelligence agencies as well as some 'anti national' elements belonging to Baluchistan and Sindh.
On the other hand, in an Afghanistan related development, Pakistan has expressed serious reservations about the US support to India for its participation in the UN-sponsored peace talks of regional partners aimed at adopting a unified approach on the Afghan endgame. These regional countries include foreign ministers of Iran, Pakistan, the US, Russia and China. The Pakistani reservations to exclude India for any role in the Afghanistan linked meet were articulated by Dr Moeen Yousuf, Special Assistant on National Security to PMIK during an interview to a private tv channel. He argued that India doesn't have any borders with Afghanistan thus doesn't qualify to be included in the regional meet. He further claimed that India has huge investments in Pakistan and it targets Pakistani security interests from Afghan soil of which he has proof too. Ambassador Abdul Basit, who was earlier Pakistan's envoy to India, finds no big deal if, at US insistence, India takes part in the upcoming meet. It may be recalled that incidentally, it's the same Abdul Basit who not very long ago, had vociferously protested against India and Pakistan's back-channel diplomacy restoring ceasefire along the LOC.
Other than these issues posing severe challenges to the Pakistani dispensation, a sense of political instability, nepotism and corruption, as being noticed in the very recent past, there are perhaps much more which are not visible being smouldering under the surface. In sum, for the time being, PMIK's plate is full. Hopefully, something good will emerge sooner than later.
The writer is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. Views expressed are personal