Millennium Post

PTI losing political credibility

The grim battle waged by a small but well meaning section in Pakistan for a sustaining and evolving democratic order has suffered a setback as some pseudo-democratic interests are working against the struggle for democracy. Needless to say, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its chief Imran Khan serve as catalyst in favour of the unholy combine of a section of army, the ISI and other powerful groups whose roots are in the military-bureaucratic-feudal traditions. The PTI too is in the service of pseudo-democratic politicians and retired bureaucrats. The ace cricketer-turned-politician’s collaborator is Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), led by Dr Tahirul Qadri.

Apparently, PTI-PAT sit in demanded resignation of the prime minister Nawaz Sharif, meaning an abrupt end to the government-led by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz group) but the intentions of Khan and Qadri are suspect. They want officials from the Military Intelligence and the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency in a judicial commission to go into the allegations of rigged elections.The finance minister Ishaq Dar seized the opportunity to catch Khan on the wrong foot. Why does the PTI boss suggest that representatives of military intelligence and ISI be in the judicial body where only judicial officers should be included? There lies the rub. As the skipper of Pakistan Test team Khan enjoyed the favour of General Zia-ul Haq during the dreaded years of military regime. His faith in the defence intelligence raises doubts as to whether the sit-in-biggies are genuine lovers of democracy or surreptitiously creating grounds for more powers to the military-bureaucratic clique.

A very significant indictment of PTI and its chief is made by the general secretary of Awami National Party (ANP) Mian Iftikhar Hussain that, those who stage the sit-in agitation (he named both PTI and PAT) in Islamabad want to ‘rollback’ the XIIIth Constitutional Amendment. This amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan was adopted unanimously by the National Assembly of Pakistan in 1997, when Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister. It stripped the president of Pakistan of his reserve power to dissolve the NA. It removed Article 58(2)(b) of the Constitution, which gave the President the power to ‘dissolve the National Assembly in his discretion where, in his opinion ... a situation has arisen in which the government cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and an appeal to the electorate is necessary.’ PTI and PAT mandarins did never firmly reposed faith in the point-turning constitutional amendment.

London-based Pakistani Trotskyist, Tariq Ali, whose soft corner for Khan is well-known (Maybe, he thought in politics, the successful Pak cricket captain of yesteryears would play with a straight bat) took the PTI supremo mildly to task in a lengthy commentary two months back. Khan alleged that the polls were so heavily rigged in last year’s general election as to deny him victory. That polls in Pakistan are often rigged is beyond dispute- but to what extent? The defeated Pakistan People’s (in reality Zardari-Bhutto’s) Party made no such charge, despite being virtually wiped out in Punjab. Khan, too, accepted the results at the time and was photographed smiling with the new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif.

More to the point, his party agreed to form the government in the frontier province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. If the election had been rigged so extensively, why not bide your time, become leader of the opposition and fight in parliament instead of forming a provincial government composed of the usual coterie of bandwagon careerists? Those (including me) who had thought that Khan’s new movement might create a political space for something better have been proved wrong. Friends among Pakistanis-especially scientists and political commentators with a Left-leaning mindset are of firm impression that the ‘filthy rich’ whose outreach stretches into India and other SAARC countries through the intelligentsia (including some in the audio-visual media) are very much into the murky game in and around Islamabad. Mohsin Hamid’s latest novel, How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia narrates poignantly: ‘Your deal is concluded in an uncomplicated, if seemingly whimsical, fashion, the politician asking one of his henchmen for an opinion with a laugh and raised eyebrow, much as he might ask him to assess the desirability of a mid-priced prostitute.’ IPA

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