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Unfortunate times in Pakistani politics


Ansar M Bhatti

Politics in Pakistan has always been turbulent. Or maybe it is so in the rest of the world as well. Pakistan’s case turns out to be unique in the sense that when politics gets rough it affects everything. In such scenarios people happen to be the worst-hit species.  And so is the case with economy as well. The ongoing tug-of-war among various political parties has unequivocally led the country towards political and economic chaos. The PTI-PDM tussle is taking a heavy toll on the hapless people. So much so, those who cannot make their both ends meet are left with no option but to either kill their children or do away with their own lives simply because they cannot see their family dying of hunger. Not only this, the graph of crimes linked to social injustices and poverty has swelled to abnormal proportions. 

But the priority of our so-called political leaders is how to bring their opponents down. Look at the press conferences and talks of the government functionaries, ministers and even the prime minister, it seems as if Imran Khan and PTI happen to be the number one problem of this country. This is indeed a grim scenario from the point of view of the people especially. On the other hand the PTI Chairman too tends to conduct himself as a ‘spoiled child’ who is ready to ruin everything in case his wishes are not fulfilled. He too seems excessively obsessed with his opponents. Had it been in his purview he would have eliminated all of them in one go. During his speeches even he only focuses on the PDM and the Establishment. We are still anxiously waiting for his speech in which he would give a future road map as to how he would like to steer the country out of existing crises. But unfortunately not a single word about his future plans.

Now having said that it is also a fact that efforts are being made to wipe out PTI from the political scene or cut it to size in order to make sure that it does not perform well in the next elections. Despite all ifs and buts, PTI happens to be a leading political party having roots among the masses therefore it won’t be possible to eliminate it altogether. Nevertheless, its wings can certainly be clipped, a process for which has already kick-started. PTI MPs and ordinary members are gradually jumping out of the bandwagon. The biggest blow was caused when heavyweight Amir Kiani from Rawalpindi decided to call it a day. He not only left the party but politics as well. Imran Khan himself expressed his disappointment when Kiani announced his decision. In the coming days it is expected that more such announcements may be made by other senior leaders thus further denting the party’s vote bank. 

It may be recalled that more or less similar scenes were witnessed in 2018 when the project PTI was launched. Since the idea was to bring the PTI into power therefore the powers-that-be decided to clip the wings of the PML N. The strategy had worked quite well as a result of which the PML N was cut to a small size. Consequently it lost elections. The similar process is in progress right now however the ultimate beneficiary may not be the PML N, rather it may be the PPP. As per the scheme of things, PPP and its leader Bilawal Bhutto have been tipped as the new rulers of this country. At the moment the PPP is not in a position for performing well in general elections therefore it is very much likely that those who are leaving the PTI and even the new ones would be encouraged to join the PPP.

The PTI is being taken to task for May 9 incidents. A number of leaders and workers have already been arrested while hunt for others is on. There is no denying the fact that whatever happened on May 9 would go down in the annals of Pakistani history as a dark chapter. The incidents earned a bad name for the country and provided the enemies with an ample chance to laugh at us. But, it seems a bit unfair to make arrests on such a large scale on the basis of mere assumptions. The PTI senior leadership including Imran Khan has called for setting up an independent commission to probe the matter and then punish those responsible for these violent acts. Once found guilty, the perpetrators then must be penalized ruthlessly so that no such incident takes place in future. We have to keep in consideration that even in the past all efforts meant to eliminate or even bully the political parties proved counterproductive in the long run.

As regards the way forward, one thing is for sure the elections are not going to take place as per the wishes of the PTI or the order of the apex court. The deadline of 90 days has already expired and the Supreme Court is yet to announce its verdict in this case. It would be in the best interest of this country and democracy that the PTI is allowed to return to the National Assembly in the light of the May 19, 2023 verdict of the Lahore High Court and make part of the legislation process. A caretaker setup then may be agreed upon that would take charge when the incumbent government finishes its term in August and the elections are held in October.  Any other arrangement or plan may be a recipe for further instability and chaos.

Endnote: The IMF is not ready to bail out Pakistan by releasing the tranche anytime soon. There is a view within the Fund that Pakistan intends to settle Chinese loans from the IMF grant. It may not be the case however the Pakistani side probably has not been able to address IMF concerns regarding Chinese debts. This is a fact that Pakistan has to pay back a hefty amount to China. We all know that in the Chinese system there is no provision of debt rescheduling so either Pakistan has to pay or ask for a roll-over.

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