Ambassador Alam Brohi talks about the slippery political ground
Hope and Sanity – We recall the PDM had promised to end the stagflation; arrest the inflation; bring down the prices of petroleum products and utilities; stop the devaluation of the Pak currency; rehabilitate the economy; stabilise the political situation; turn the vituperative politics into a decent and civilised political contest; follow the constitutional path and the rule of law; restore the credibility of the state institutions; reform the process of accountability; hold elections in time as enunciated by the basic law of the country. They are in power for over one year. Nothing has improved. Rather everything seems topsy-turvy.
They have been presiding over the worst political, economic and liquidity crises unprecedented in the short history of this luckless land. The nation has been sinking into a political and economic vortex throughout this period with no sign of concern, urgency and earnestness ever displayed practically by top leadership and the army of over 90 Ministers and Special Assistants sauntering in the corridors of power. They could not spare a day from their foreign junkets to think of the country and the hapless populace facing miserable poverty and hunger.
They have been running the Parliament according to their whims; fabricating mock opposition and faking the constitutional consultations for appointment of the heads of constitutional institutions, and interim administrations disregarding the relevant constitutional clauses. The accountability laws were amended whimsically rendering the National Accountability Bureau toothless keeping corruption to the tune of Rs.500 million out of the purview of the Accountability Courts resulting in the acquittal of a large number of corrupt public office holders including top PDM leaders.
The judiciary, a constitutional pillar of the state, has also not escaped its shenanigans. The parliament has recently passed laws which temper with the constitutional powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan curtailing his powers for bench formation and taking suo moto notice of matters of public importance under the Constitution. It is intriguing to note that the division in the apex court has always become more pronounced in Muslim League regimes during the past three decades beginning from 1993 with the differences intensifying between Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Chief Justice Nasim Hassan Shah. The division became more acute in 1999 resulting in the infamous attack on the main court room where Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was hearing public petitions against the laws passed by the parliament on the whims of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. In this tussle, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was dethroned by his brother’s judges in an intriguing twist to the judicial process. This division in the top court is more pronounced today than in previous years. Is it a coincidence or a willful manoeuvre to intimidate the judges?
The PTI is subjected to the worst kind of tyranny with hundreds of fabricated cases registered against its chairman and the second and third rank leaders and workers. This became more pronounced when the PTI chief committed the blunder of dissolving his two provincial governments of Punjab and KP. He has been running from court to court for bail in these cases. Cases were registered against some PTI leaders of Punjab and KP in far-flung regions of Balochistan and Sindh.
We have spared no proof to show that we are far from being civilised. Now the PTI leaders facing charges of terrorism are being forced to leave their political party. Have mass desertions ever reduced a popular leader to a political non-entity in Pakistan? Not really. The PPP survived the onslaught of the Martial regime banking on the legendary legacy of Bhutto. The sponsored MQM, National People’s Party, and Progressive People’s Party did not dent the political heritage of Bhutto. The other parties that survived anti-democratic tactics, media black-outs and legal bans were Awami League and ANP. Why do we put the old eggs into a new colourful basket and fancifully hope to achieve the results of our choice?
In this entire political tussle, it is the Constitution that has been bruised the most. It has been wrapped in a scented cloth and secured on a shelf. Every day, it is being trampled upon without any tweak of conscience. The court orders concerning elections, arrests, protective bail and political witch hunts are mocked without an iota of shame. The Ministers have unabashedly taken the mantle of the superior courts to interpret constitutional clauses and laws, and publicly mock court decisions hurting their fallacious hopes. This is done to avoid electoral battles. People say more hard days lie ahead, and more of their political shenanigans are expected before the expiry of the term of the current Assemblies. They talk of the imposition of emergency and longer political interim administrations and a national government for a couple of years. The PDM leadership has not refuted these speculations.
The PTI chairman may have many faults and weaknesses; he may have committed mistakes in his battle for political survival; he may have been incautious but he is not anti-state or anti-country purposefully destabilising its institutions. The trial of Imran Khan, PTI leaders and workers in military courts will come back to haunt the PDM leaders. Today, it is their political foe who they want to throw out of the political arena. Tomorrow, some from their rank and file will be in the dock. The political ground is very slippery, particularly when it is managed. It keeps on changing its racing horses. The Weekender