By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
PML-N leaders are in ferocious mood and have threatened convicted PM Gilani to accept Supreme Court (SC) verdict and quit or else face a movement which will throw out his government. Nawaz has indulged in suchlike tantrums in the past as well but time has proven that his jibes have been politically motivated and not meant to unseat the government. In our terminology, it was a Nura-Kushti (fixed match). PML-N has always jammed brakes at a critical time when it found that the government was on the verge of succumbing to pressure. In fact, at times when the government came under the pressure of other forces, it extended support to it. Justification given for such recourse is that it wants to save the system and democracy. PML-N has got into combative gear after lot of water has flown down River Indus.
Its change in posture from friendly opposition to real opposition has come too late since by now the ground realities have changed. The PPP enjoys majority in both the houses and its three allies, the ANP, MQM and PML-Q stand solidly behind it. As such the PM cannot be unseated by moving vote of no confidence against him. Opposition is a house divided since the PML-N has antagonized all. Judiciary’s pro-activism has been considerably blunted after the executive head’s point blank refusal to implement any of its directives including the contempt of court verdict against his person. He has been found guilty and convicted by the seven-member SC bench but Gilani instead of gracefully stepping down says that final decision rests with Speaker National Assembly and Election Commission. Parliamentary route will allow him 4-5 months additional time. The Army is on the defensive because of multiple internal and external threats, assertiveness of the judiciary to keep the Army restrained from adventurism, and the PML-N adopting a hostile attitude against it.
PML-N and Tehrik-e-Insaf (TI) clash is to the advantage of PPP. Finding that Imran has become a real threat, instead of fighting him politically, PML-N has started bewailing that but for the military establishment’s support, he couldn’t have organized such mammoth gatherings at Lahore and Karachi. The detractors didn’t take into account the fact that unlike the status-quo parties which transport their voters from rural areas to the meeting place, people from all walks of lives came under their own arrangements to listen to Imran. If the establishment is supporting Imran, it must also be supporting Maulana Fazlur Rahman, who also addressed big rallies in Gujranwala and Karachi. If establishment is such a match winning factor, what stops PML-N from garnering its support? However, if it wants to remain at loggerheads with the Army without any rhyme or reason, under the misperception that such a course would help it in gaining extra brownie points, then why should it crib? It should not work on the principle of having the cake and eating it too.
These factors have gone entirely in favor of the PPP since both the judiciary and PML-N have shot themselves in the foot. With the neutralization of the judiciary and Army, the PPP cares two hoots for the PML-N, which has come under severe pressure in its forte of Punjab due to the sudden rise of TI, or for the judiciary, which is not in a position to seek Army’s assistance under Article 190A to force the rulers to implement its orders. Hence, by accident, the PPP is the gainer.
Imran Khan is right in saying that PML-N is principally responsible for allowing the PPP to remain in power for that long despite its poor governance, massive corruption, nepotism and cronyism. It has been looking the other way all these years when the national kitty and state institutions were systematically plundered and profit earning public sector corporations like PIA, Railways, Steel Mills and OGDC were made bankrupt. Nawaz allowed this wholesale loot and plunder just because he wanted the PPP to complete its five-year tenure so that he could have his full tenure as had been agreed to in the Charter of Democracy (CoD) agreement inked in London. He and his party thus had mala fide intentions and were governed by self interests rather than national interests.
PML-N cannot be absolved of its criminal complicity, which has done severe damage to the country and its people. There is no point in ranting and panting at this belated stage when the country has gone bankrupt and come under phenomenal internal and external debts. Nawaz should not have called it a day on the night of 15 March 2009 when the hurricane of long march was primed up to sweep the whole edifice of rulers. That was a chance of the century which he missed. He called it off when he was assured that the judges would be restored and more importantly, sacked PML-N government in Punjab will be restored.
If Nawaz is hoping to generate another long march of the magnitude of the previous one, he is sadly mistaken. He must take into account the new realities that have emerged since 2009. The lawyer community which was the moving spirit of the long march has been divided and all its leading lights are on the side of the PPP. He has antagonized PML-Q and TI and the latter is unlikely to become part of the long march led by Nawaz. JUI-F is sitting on the fence and has traditionally sided with the power which can materially benefit it. PML-N’s hobnobbing with few radical nationalist parties of Balochistan and SNF in Sindh will be of little consequence. People in Punjab are in two minds whether to follow Nawaz or Imran, both criticizing the government and demanding early elections. Possibility of Nawaz and Imran joining hands to jointly launch protest movement is not likely to materialize since Imran has imposed a tough pre-condition that PML-N should first resign from the centre and Punjab. Marrying up of the two would prove beneficial.
Patience of the people having worn thin, they are expectantly looking toward Gen Kayani to act like a Messiah and rid them from the vultures, which have betrayed them time and again and made their lives miserable. Inflation and prices of daily commodities had never before risen so high. Corruption and mal practices by elites broke all previous records. Rule of law was never flouted so brashly and apex court was never defied and ridiculed so brazenly. The country had never been invaded by foreign agents so heavily and micro-managed so intensively by Washington. People had not seen such an incompetent and immoral government before which has given preference to immorality over morality.
Having experienced the military and democratically elected rules several times, and having carried out a dispassionate comparison, notwithstanding some of the flaws of the military rulers, their performance with respect to governance, economic management and maintenance of semblance of order has been much better. The masses are fed up with the so-called democracy and their hatred for the self-serving politicians has risen sky-high. They have had enough of sham democracy since the wily politicians governed by selfish motives and feudal mindset will never allow real democracy to flourish. They will keep raising hollow slogans of democracy and people’s welfare but in practice will make themselves and the elite class richer and the downtrodden poorer. They are desperate to oust the gang of corrupt and depraved rulers but cannot find a true leader to lead them and bring a healthy change. They are in search of a leader who could fulfill Quaid’s dream of converting Pakistan into an Islamic welfare state. Can untried Imran Khan who has never minced his words in calling a spade a spade rise to the occasion and prove that all politicians are not alike? Change-seekers are attaching high hopes in him.