Millennium Post

Pushing Pakistan off the precipice

Pushing Pakistan off the precipice
Pakistan is haunted by a hydra-headed monster whose aim is to exterminate the process of democratic evolution and renewal in the country. The outer manifestation is the occupation-Wall-Street-style agitation by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), led by the former Pakistan team cricket captain and Lothario-turned conservative politician Imran Khan and a Canadian-Pakistani activist Sufi cleric Tahir ul-Qadri led Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) demanding resignation of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his government, led by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz),
The two parties cash in on the inept governance, reflected in protracted power crisis, unending price rise and massive joblessness.

They copied the Occupy Wall Street model that was replicated in urban Pakistan. It was a coup d’etat in another garb, a ‘soft coup’ that fizzled out by the resignation from the post of PTI president Javed Hashmi who slapped it on the PTI supremo while quitting the membership of the National Assembly. The scheme’s blueprint is believed to have been scripted by General Shujah Pasha and Brigadier Ijaz Shah.

The dissident PTI leader did spill the khaki-coloured beans and single-handedly subverted the ‘mutiny’. It was a one-man counter-coup that helped the genuine democrats who are largely unattached political beings. Imran Khan, masqueraded by a section of media and anti Sharif columnists as ‘a neutral umpire’ in the functional democracy in a state where the democratic order is still frail and subjugated to the military barracks. This was vindicated when the PM sought the intervention of the Army to quell the revolt.

The PTI members too tendered their resignations on 22 August but none of the resignations have been accepted except for Javed Hashmi’s, which were accepted right away. A section of political analysts draw parallel between PTI and Aam Aadmi Party of India, forgetting that Imarn Khan was almost on the lap of Zia-ul Haq when he was the most popular cricket hero. He never raised a finger, even when Zia had imposed the infamous amendment 58(2)(b) to the Constitution of Pakistan empowering the President to dissolve the national and provincial assemblies arbitrarily and Zia-ul Haq did it. The irony of history is that the partial revival of democratic polity was made by General Pervez Musharraf, who ousted Sharif through a military coup and later became the President, through the Eighteenth Amendment to return to constitutional democracy. But the amendment was a symbol of hypocrisy as the army continues to hold tightly the neck of democracy.

Tariq Ali who still inspires the radical youths in Pakistan questioned the accusation that the 2013 polls were rigged and fraudulent, The London-based Trotskyite whose parents were members of the Communist Party of India before the birth of Pakistan and that of CP of Pakistan thereafter in a very recent article in the London Review of Books observed: ‘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 who had thought that Khan’s new movement might create a political space for something better, have been proved wrong’.

Qadri and Ali rightly point out, that h group is opposed to violence and insists that his group was not in favour of his temporary partner’s tactics. Khan- followers stormed the Red Zone and Qadri stayed away. But, Tariq Ali calls Qadri’s politics as ‘mysterious.’ The only serious alternative to actually existing democracy is the army, which in the decades that it ruled Pakistan, was also incapable of any real reforms that benefited the poor or middle layers of society.

For the democratic forces, the bitter schism in the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), the Taliban outfit in Pakistan, is a breathing space for consolidation. It’s already split into three factions which are locked in armed confrontation among themselves. A splinter group, Jamaat ul Ahrar, led by Omar Khalid Khorasani, claimed to have executed 23 Pakistani paramilitaries who were abducted in 2010. Earlier, Khorasani led the Ahrar ul Hind faction. The TTP boss Maulana Fazlullah, ‘Mullah Radio,’ is virtually forlorn. But Khorasani has closer links with Al Qaeda.

Another deterrent to the democratic struggle is Sharif brothers’ obsession with fancy projects (with fancy contracts attached) which do not at all cater to the interests of common people.
Although the PM and the Opposition sans PTI and PAT in a rare show of political maturity vowed to support the constitutional democracy, the political turmoil will continue. As Lahore-based The Friday Times editor Najam Sethi observes in a signed editorial, ‘The political crisis has come to a head. Someone or something must give in quickly and diffuse the situation. Or there will be violence, followed by an army ‘intervention’ in one form or another.’ IPA
Sankar Ray

Sankar Ray

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