Pakistan has gone through crises of immeasurable magnitude throughout its 6 decades’ entity. This country has faced four dictatorships, secession of its Eastern wing and a series of fluctuating democracy led by incumbent politicians. But, never has been the mainstream public so indulged or vibrant enough as it is now. The common men, women, the old, the youngsters even the kids might never have been so politically aware earlier than they are today. The participation of youth especially in politics is a spectacular sight; the reasons they are protesting for, are quite intimidating though.
With this political intellect oozing from literally every nook and corner from the country, citizen journalism and social media activism on politics has also made its way to mainstream public. Everyone has become a political analyst and luckily there are adequate fora where people can also voice their opinions. One of my favorite blogger friends is Abdullah Nizamani. Abdullah recently has had a chance to opine on Laaltain, a popular website for youth who have a penchant for writing. I won’t be modest here but my blog is absolutely no match for Abdullah’s blogs, especially since he’s a law graduate and knows all the legality of certain issues. It was however his piece Is History Repeating Itself? Towards the end of turmoil that I refused to read initially. But, comments made on his Facebook post sharing that article is what ousted me to read it.
Abdullah begins his article with a grave connotation:
After years of ceaseless efforts of politicians, journalists, lawyers, civil society and other sections of the society, a fledgling democratic system has taken root in Pakistan but the political stunts by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri have put the whole development in jeopardy.
Well, I tend to disagree. I think, like any other analyst, Abdullah is over-thinking.
What is that one thing we fear most if ‘democracy is derailed’? A Martial Law? No, we fear to be ruled by a person who doesn’t have public’s mandate which is why we are troubled that he would make policies that suit his interests, not public’s. Else who wouldn’t like a person trained at Military academy who is adept at making appropriate decisions in times of crisis, possessing nerves of steel, to be the premier of one’s country? Or perhaps a government of technocrats; people who are experts in their professions, steering the country into right direction with their well thought-out policies?
Yes, we fear a government or premier who is not in the office through public’s suffrage. The present PMLN government, is sadly the one which apparently doesn’t seem to have public’s mandate either, at least not in NA 68 (Sargodha), NA256 (Karachi) and NA 118 (Lodhran).
Further, Abdullah writes:
Stubborn Imran, crazy Qadri and ignorant Nawaz Sharif have made Pakistan a laughing stock in the world. The long march was said to be aimed at reforming the electoral system, though PTI with its 34 members in the Parliament did not make any effort to do it while remaining within the system. Imran Khan’s demeanor shows that his other demands are mere blanket over his primary demand of PM’s resignation. As far Tahirul Qadri, he seems to be living in the state of utopia while having fits of egocentrism every now and then.
I can agree with Abdullah on Nawaz’s ignorance part but ‘stubborn’ isn’t quite an apposite attribute associated with Imran Khan. His principle stance on the rigging issue is no doubt a reflection of how obstinate he is but that is how things should be done. Electoral reforms are desperately needed in a country infected with feudalism. And as much Imran-ish it might sound, he did resort to legal channel before this Azadi March ballyhoo. About Tahir ul Qadri, ‘crazy’ is the adjective I would agree with but doesn’t that remind of that quintessential Joker dialogue:
“What doesn’t kill you, simply makes you stranger”.
Tahir ul Qadri is revered by many, for his vast knowledge of Islam. But, little was his political stature until PMLN government, on-purposely (or maybe mistakenly) projected him as a ‘Leader’. It wasn’t much of the ‘crazy’ Tahir ul Qadri factor than PMLN’s mishandling of his political party Pakistan Awami Tehreek that currently thousands of PAT and PTI workers are sitting at Red zone.
About PTI’s 34 member Parliamentary strength and how they did nothing to introduce electoral reforms, I’m sure Abdullah will be amused to see what I also found a few days ago. Here are two bills, one of which was presented by Dr. Shireen Mazari and Dr. Arif Alvi , the other presented by Munazza Hasan, Shireen Mazari, Dr. Arif Alvi and others in the National assembly. So, if people believe Ch. Nisar, Kh Saad Rafiq and Ishaq Dar that PTI must present bills for electoral reforms and that PMLN would support it, that is the outcome of sheer politics they played.
The article continues with some facts and figures:
Imran Khan has been trying to turn public opinion in his favor vis-à-vis election rigging but his arguments lose their ground when the outcome of election petitions filed by his party is assessed. According to facts, Imran Khan’s PTI filed 77 petitions with the Election Commission under Section 103-AA of Representation of People Act, 1976 which were disposed of. Besides, another 61 election petitions were filed under Section 52 of the same Act out of which 37 have been rejected favoring the winning candidates.
Well, I don’t really know what section, Malik Zubair Khan, the losing candidate of PTI from my constituency NA256, filed his petition under but NADRA report on rigging in NA256 says a man voted 7 times on polling station #168 (which was, hearsay is, actually a women’s polling station). Yet, Tribunal rejected Zubair Khan’s petition .
I wonder if that is how a middle class man’s petition is rejected what is the guarantee that other petitions are scrutinized efficiently and more than that, honestly? It must also be taken into notice that it costs Rs. 15 for verification per vote as stated by NADRA. Malik Zubair Khan did not have sufficient amount, he sought donations from people of his constituency, paid Rs. 9 lac for justice and yet, ‘democracy must not be derailed’ fiasco won. This is just one case, of my own constituency and who would assure this did not happen in 76 other cases filed under Section 103-AA or 36 cases filed under Section 52?
The next thing in Abdullah’s article which substantially deserves a reply in this blog is:
The constitution provides the method of removal of Prime Minister by way of vote of no-confidence under Article 95.
But, bearing in mind that this is the same Parliament where parties, accused of rigging by even the ruling party PMLN, are sitting as mere ‘stakeholders’. They will obviously never give a vote of no-confidence to remove Prime Minister. In cricketing terms that would have been equal to wasting another decision review opportunity.
Finally a word of applaud which should actually be for Azadi March participants for their immensely peaceful protest even in Red zone, but got camouflaged as Government’s sagacity:
Though the protestors have been occupying the capital for about a week, the government has still not used force to disperse them, which is indeed very appreciating.
Then comes the part which hurts me most:
Nawaz Sharif may somehow manage to survive the mob led by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri…
and this one:
The ego of Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri will also be seriously hurt if PM does not resign. In such case the apprehension is that the crowd of thousands of people may turn violent and may storm the buildings situated in the Red Zone.
It would be too harsh to call it Imran or Qadri’s ‘ego’ but yes, without the PM’s resignation, their political notoriety will be gravely compromised. Crowds won’t be attracted to them next time (let’s just hope there never comes a next time but still this is Pakistan. Period.)
What’s more disappointing that Abdullah has used the word “mob” for these peaceful Pakistanis. These are not PMLN’s Gullu, Pommy or Billu Butts. This is a middle class person, a frustrated youngster, a frail old person and a troubled child who in all their depression have come out of their homes, thinking their presence at PTI’s Azadi March might actually catalyze a ‘Change’ in Pakistan’s sad affairs. I myself haven’t had a chance to come out on streets in Karachi due to financial problems because of which it’s quite hard to go to Teen Talwar protests from Model Colony but I can understand why people are pouring in big numbers everyday. My father works at Pakistan Steel Mills, an institution where 16,000+ employees haven’t had 3 months’ salary while the Prime Minister was busy buying sniffer dogs and BMWs worth billions of tax payers’ money. I know that’s not a logical defiance but comes straight from my heart.
Further, he writes:
The resignation of Prime Minister may fill the appetite of Imran Khan but it would set a negative precedent providing religious and political pressure groups with an excuse to stage the sit-ins in the capital bringing the whole system to a standstill. Therefore, the wisdom demands that the Prime Minister should not resign under the pressure of protests.
That is a very good argument and I totally agree with it. I wish such sanity prevailed in 1990s also when Nawaz Sharif launched Tehrik e Nijat against Benazir Bhutto’s second government. Or perhaps when there used to be “Go Musharraf Go” or “Go Zardari Go” slogans. The wrong precedents have been set up PMLN itself and now they must have a taste of their own medicine. Imran Khan is the one having almost all trump cards here; he’s got a rage, street power and a number of loopholes to talk about, in Sharif’s government.
As I write this blog, the Judicial commission’s report on Model town massacre is out. Chief Minister Punjab, Shehbaz Sharif is found to be directly involved in the bloodshed. What’s interesting to note, is the affidavit of ISI and MI representatives who have provided phone records on behalf of agencies which proved to be a concrete evidence in the verdict against PMLN’s provincial government. We all know why Imran Khan has taken such a magnanimous risk and upon who’s consent. The point is, I believe those ‘boys’ are the real protectors of Pakistan and hence certain matters should be in their hands. After all, they would never compromise on Pakistan or this nation that they promise to protect till their last breathe.
I trust Pakistan Army to be doing what’s best for Pakistan.