‘Ganging up on Democracy in Pakistan, Again’

Democracy once again appears to be under threat in Pakistan with a politician who seeks to become Prime Minister using abusive language against parliamentary institutions, the dismissal of the chief minister of Baluchistan, the threat of another rally with cleric Tahir ul Qadri putting together another loose coalition. This is in addition to Pakistan-US relations being under increasing stress, civil-military relations at their worst and the continued radicalization of Pakistani society.

The dismissal of an elected chief minister in Balochistan and his replacement with someone who secured less than 600 votes in the last general election is a reflection of the troubles facing Pakistan.

In a scathing editorial The Friday Times stated: “If the strategic importance of the province to the Miltablishment is obvious, so too is its tactical relevance in the current political situation. If the PMLN is to be stopped from improving its position in the Senate so that Nawaz Sharif cannot constitutionally make a comeback, then something must be done to stop the Senate elections from taking place in March before the next general elections are held some months hence. One way to do that is to precipitate a political crisis in which at least two provincial assemblies – Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – are dissolved, posing a constitutional challenge to holding the Senate elections on time. If necessary, this may be followed by mass resignations from the National Assembly of PTI, PMLQ, PPP, MQM and assorted groups currently in the fold of the Militablishment – including a significant chunk of PMLN “sleepers”— that compels a dissolution of parliament and the installation of an interim federal government cobbled by the Election Commission and Supreme Court of Pakistan. Such an interim government could stretch for months on end until the latest Census results have been collated and constituency delimitation concluded in a “satisfactory” manner. During this period, further political engineering can take place to ensure “suitable” results — a political dispensation that excludes the person of Nawaz Sharif from power (by getting NAB courts to sentence him for corruption) and also denies any political party an outright majority in parliament that might foolishly embolden it to challenge the political hegemony of the Miltablishment, a mistake that both Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif respectively made in office and for which they are still paying the price.”

Similarly the Lahore Mall rally of PTI, PPP and Tahir ul Qadri’s PAT was “only meant to confirm the pledge of the disparate parties to stand together for the final Heave-Ho when the signal is received rather than immediately go for the Punjab government’s jugular. Balochistan, KP and the opposition parties are now all primed for the coup de grace. They are simply waiting for a nod from the Miltablishment to trigger the beginning of the end of the current political dispensation led by the PMLN.”

According to Cyril Almeida in Dawn the reason for all this is the belief “The people can’t be trusted to deliver the right result and massaging the process takes a bunch of doing.” Hence “IF you think you’re crazy and imagining things, you’re not. A moment of stability quickly yields to instability and confusion and the threat of chaos. But there’s a pattern all right. Nawaz and Maryam go quiet, the system goes quiet. Nawaz and Maryam switch the megaphone back on, the system roars back. This time it may be for good.”

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