Umair Jalali looks at the
current complicated situation of the country
These are tough times for Challenges galore Pakistan as the fulcrum of decisive authority apparently has been fractured and has endangered the governance hierarchy badly. This fracture is multiple in nature and can be viewed in all segments of governance whether they belong to political, military or judicial organs of the state. It has become difficult for all stakeholders to come to a common ground for resolving their differences as the course of actions they are pursuing are radically different than each other and there is hardly any chance of squaring the circle in the present circumstances. The divergence has become so steep that it is almost unbridgeable and may result in something very unpleasant though many quarters are trying their best to avert such a situation from taking place.
The situation is so parlous that the incumbent prime minister feels constrained to act like a proxy and rushes of to London with an awkward frequency to seek instructions from his older brother who holds the reins of power of the party, and by extension, in the coalition government, and is known for keeping grudges. By the looks of it, the elder Sharif is not prepared to easily compromise on the anti-establishment stance he adopted after getting disqualified by the superior court, a decision he attributed to the secret intervention of the establishment, and is bent upon extracting a suitable price for the way he was humbled for standing up to the arbitrary forces. Accordingly he is rigidly insisting that his point of view should be considered the last word.
The other angle of political activity pertains to the rest of the PDM that is apparently not visible but it is reportedly exerting lot of pressure on PMLN leadership to accommodate its point of view regarding selection of COAS. PPP is maneuvering behind the scenes but Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman periodically addresses the media and airs his view rather cogently and candidly that are usually in favour of taking independent decision taking into view that the supremacy of civil political authority is ensured. This is not an easy path to tread though the politicians are convinced that this is the best chance in a long time that they have got to assert their position emphatically and forcefully provided they remain united.
PTI is in a dilemma as its leader has been practically confined and besieged in Lahore after his long march was fired upon in Wazirabad. The most damaging consequences of this action is that the long march has lost its steam and led by second-tier leadership particularly by lackluster leaders such as Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Asad Umar who are also reputed to be rather lukewarm about their loyalty for Imran Khan. Bereft of their star performer the PTI’s long march is in disarray and since it was considered as the ultimate card at the disposal of Imran Khan, the loss of its efficacy would be disastrous for him and his cause and his party. The heat generated by his agitation after he was voted out of office in April of this year was already dissipating owing to repeated contradictions in his stance that were pointed out by his opponents and gradually dented even his hardcore support.
On the other hand, the establishment has to grapple with the growing worries of the PTI long march that is now decisively zeroing in on Rawalpindi clearly indicating that the PTI considers fighting with Islamabad futile. Moreover, the institutional interest of the army is also is a paramount issue weighing in heavily with Rawalpindi that wants that its prerogative to nominate and get its nominee for the top slot is ensured. Rawalpindi had faced serious upsets in the past when political executives, particularly Nawaz Sharif as prime minister, had repeatedly disagreed with its recommendations. While acknowledging that appointing the two top positions of the army is the constitutional right of the political executive but Rawalpindi strongly feels that for professional reasons its recommendations ought to be given due consideration.
As could be seen the nature of entanglement is complicated and there are no easy solutions in offing. The situation may be leading towards addressing some fundamental issues dealing with constitutional, political, procedural and governance issues. This are indeed knotty questions and could not be brushed under the carpet any more as has been the practice in the past as such practice has been essentially responsible for giving rise to the current imbroglio. The suggestion of a broad based national dialogue has been doing rounds since many years but no one has paid serious heed to it although there is an abject need to do precisely that. There is absolutely no way out except seriously debating these matters in civilised manner instead of pushing them through long marches or hitting each other through spurious campaigns on social media. TW