The political temperature in the country is going up as much as the mercury that has roasted the people of Pakistan in recent days who are left to suffer as mostly state-owned utility providing agencies have yet again demonstrated how rotten they are. The governance structure has yet again revealed its sheer inefficiency as it has miserably failed to alleviate the misery experienced by the people badly devastated by the worst floods faced by the country. The political polarisation has completely sidetracked the issue of rehabilitation and resettlement and the burning issue is political rather than the existential difficulties people find themselves in. The country has reached the unimaginable levels of insensitivity and it looks that they will not return to normalcy.
The political temperature usually rises as election time comes nearer but this time the heat generated is far above the expected levels of temperature. It is not just the election fever that is gripping the country but it is the divergence of priorities of political groupings that are causing temperatures to go high. It is not only PMLN that has not dropped its aggressive stance against institutions of the state but also populist ethnic and religious outfits, in their own ways, are contributing to increasing heat. To begin with Pakistani political system had never been subjected to divergent strategies of the party in power and such a development is unique in its nature.
Political Temperature Matters
The vigorous public meetings organised by Imran Khan are not only adding to the confusion but also indicate the growing chances of confrontation between status-quo oriented Punjab government whose chief minister has a lot to lose once Nawaz Sharif’s singular crusade gets nasty. Shahbaz Sharif may get along with his elder brother’s peregrinations but it appears that he is fast reaching the end of the tether as his cohort is getting jittery by the day.
On the other hand PTI is practically gloating over its impending success though the proverb there is a lot of slip between the cup and the lip specifically is meant for political unpredictabilities. The party also suffers from lack of coordination at all levels and particularly its high level often shows the visible cracks. Its one point agenda of damning everyone else in the fray is a sure recipe for adding fuel to already well-lit fires.
PPP and its allies are busy trying to capitalise on the support they rendered to the coalition government and expect that some form of political engineering will be undertaken to benefit them. The MQM fracas will not put water on burning logs but will add to their potency as the extremist element of the groups associated with it is waiting in the wings to pounce on its politicos preparing for the electoral contest. The ferocity of competition between various factions of MQM will create a fire of its own.
Extreme Right Factor
Adding to the turmoil is the resurgence of ethnic forces that now have sprung from the northern parts of the country and could prove dangerous in the long run. The insistence of such groups to make the country aware of their protestations with a view to carve out a niche in the mainstream political arena has not only worried the state-apparatus but has also rankled the fears of ethnic groups in KP, Balochistan and rural Sindh.
The most unpredictable factor in the current heat is the extreme right factor that apparently has not given satisfactory description of its political strategy. The most potent of these groups belong to the religious sect most followed in the country and it holds the most credible mosque factor in the land. Such groups have normally shown the tendency to emphasise the basic ideological premise and seek votes on its basis. In recent bye-elections the performance of these groups surprised skeptics and they are quite capable to repeat it.
The socio-political atmosphere in the country is a powder-keg waiting to explode. It appears difficult for the authorities to come to grips with this electric environment as they lack a strong central guidance. The regular official agencies have hardly a clue about how to handle the situation as is evident by the laid-back attitude of the Election Commission that is still not able to dispose of all petitions regarding delimitation of constituencies.
The need for a strong guiding spirit is urgently required as in case of Pakistan more democracy is not the ultimate panacea. The democratic process needs a strong hand to save it from itself. The history of Pakistan implores us to realise that left to political forces the temperatures invariably reach the boiling point and the pot often bursts. The current political polarisation is getting to extremes and may explode at any time with horrendous consequence therefore something should be done before it is too late. The Weekender