Ambassador Alam Brohi is deeply concerned at the current turn of events in the country
Pakistan’s War With Itself – With the scores of criminal cases registered against the Chairman, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, his arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case by the National Accountability Bureau, the spontaneous eruption of protests paralyzing the country and the PDM regime, and damaging the most sensitive installations and public property and the announcement of Molana Fazal Ur Rehman to have a dharna in the Red Zone to protest against the alleged extraordinary relief extended to their political foe by the superior courts, the political polarisation triggered by the regime change in April 2022 has skyrocketed to an unprecedented level and pushed the country to the brink of civil war.
The past four days have not only reflected the depth and intensity of the political, constitutional and economic crisis in the country but also have amply shown the incapability of the political and military leadership to take the country out of the quagmire in which it has been sinking since the past one year. The political divide has crept into all the state institutions shaking the very foundations of the federation. The smaller provinces of Balochistan and Sindh apparently seem unconcerned with the raging battle for the Lahore throne. The nationalists of these provinces could not help concealing their gleeful mirth over this maddening fight between the claimants of the crown of Lahore. The PTI has pockets of support in these provinces but the people generally remained calm and quiet.
Political cult worship has taken strong roots in the country. The workers and followers of a political party are deaf and dumb refusing to see the follies of the party leader terming it as malicious propaganda by his adversaries. This is not specific to one political party. All the mainstream political parties have deliberately developed this culture within their rank and file to perpetuate the dynastic rule of their leaders. This cult worship culture within the political parties is the main enemy of democracy, accountability and filtration of the bad elements from the rank and file of a political organisation.
Because of this cult culture, it is not only difficult but almost impossible to eliminate a popular leader from the political arena by intimidation, persecution and prosecution, state coercion, and accountability process. The only option left in the country, rather than in the entire South Asian region is to eradicate a political opponent through the electoral process. This is what is followed in all the democratic countries. The electoral process is the best mechanism for the sidelining the political mavericks, populists, demagogues and deadwood. Any attempt to keep a popular political leader out of the electoral arena in non-political ways would turn him into a political legend or monster. By sheer folly, our establishment has turned many a politician into a political legends whose cult worship slogans keep on haunting us even today.
How long the PDM would avoid affording the electoral right to the populace to choose their rulers because of the fear of Imran Khan’s popularity? This is the main question which pivots around the multiple crises the country is confronted with. With every passing day, and with every criminal case registered against him, his popularity goes up. Today, he stands out as the most formidable political force in the country. Without his support, even the combined force of the PDM and the establishment would not be able to take the country out of the political, constitutional and economic abyss in which it has been pushed by sheer political madness of a few hawks from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N) and the PDM who entertain a false hope to have “positive result” from an electoral battle without Imran Khan.
The PDM is hamstrung by internal differences; its coalition regime is confused; the establishment is at the end of the tether. The use of coercive state power has seen unprecedented levels verging on the naked form of fascism. Arrests, prosecutions, the tyrannical use of law enforcement agencies, assassination attempts, inducements – all have failed to browbeat the assertive PTI leader and his resilient followers who were contemptuously termed as ‘burger’ children. The imposition of emergency and the curtailment of the jurisdiction of the superior courts or the banning of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf would be the political folly of the highest order. This would aggravate the situation without diminishing the popularity of the PTI leader.
The Molana who heads the PDM would be holding a sit-in in the Red Zone. The capital city is under Section-144 forbidding any political gathering or demonstration. For the first time in modern political history, the political alliance ruling the country would hold a sit-in against one of the organs of the state – the judiciary. The social media is awash with pictures of the physical training and parade of the lathi-holding force of JUI. There is apparently no purpose for these antics and optics other than to intimidate the superior courts. Will the PDM coalition regime allow the Molana to do this in a flagrant violation of Section-144?
The other significant question is whether Moulana believes in forcing the superior courts to give judgments that suit the PDM in this mad political fight ignoring the law and human rights violations. If yes, Molana is doing a great disservice to the state, its institutions, PDM and its coalition regime in which he has four vital Ministries. He is actually clearing the deck for PTI demonstrations in the Red Zone in the days to come. How the regime would adopt the double standard in denying this right to the opposition?
The verdict of the Supreme Court on elections in Punjab has been arrogantly defied. The apex court is seized with it. The sword of contempt is hanging on the Prime Minister and four apparently defiant Ministers. Even if the court shows leniency, the constitution and the judicial verdict, however, stand reduced to the dustbin and this bad precedent would reverberate in the times to come. We are, indeed, racing against the time before Pakistan’s titanic ship hits a hard rock splintering into pieces. The Weekender