It has turned ugly, uglier than initially expected, by me. Naïve me? May be, but 2008 and 2013 elections were not so visibly handled as this one.
The establishment is on throat of the N in the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN). It is hard to imagine if they will even tolerate any remnants of this party even. Political forces stay in contest, one way or the other. Like, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), that hanged around, as PPPP, and various other suffixes. But the case is different, situation is different,players are different, and essentially, the army chief is different too. Will MMNS spend 10 years in prison and come back as a stronger politician? Impossible. Will he wait for a better time to come back to Pakistan and stay in exile? May be. He has at least few options left, fewer than what he had some time back. He lost this case due to sheer incomtence and stupidity.
What are my options?
As a note to myself, the current situation is as follows. The establishment is hell bent on crushing any political role of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in (MMNS) the future. There bet is on the cricketer turned politician Imran Khan who is at the peak of his 22 year political career. The question is whether this is one or two separate things happening at the same time. It is theoretically possible that MMNS got in the bad books of establishment and did things that hurt their stakes in real time. The time was not on his side as a political rival was on the rise, and a German journalist was about to break win a Pulitzer prize. Panama leaks happened and what everyone in political circles knew already, became an accountability issue. Politicians in Pakistan knew that Avenfield Appartments are property of Sharif family. Their denial was taken as a word. Many politicians visited these properties but no one ever questioned. MMNS became the PM in 2013. His main political rival, Imran Khan, did what Cyril Almeida described as “doing what any opposition does, putting a question mark on the legitimacy of the rule”. Initially it looked funny. When Panama Papers were out, it turned serious. Now its turning ugly.
Imran Khan’s political insight can be summarised as under.
- Establishment is a force in Pakistan. You can fight it but if you want to come into power, you need to work with them.
- Electables are a mafia but again, if you want to gain power, you need them too.
- Corruption can be eliminated (or decreased) and progress can be achieved (or started) by changing the route of spending of public money (local governments).
- Dispensing quick justice is the key to win the hearts of people.
- Five year term is enough to make a mark on the people (only if it is).
The idealist Imran Khan has stepped into the real politics. And if establishment killing MMNS is not a coincidence, he is their new blue eyed boy. The only difference is that he has struggled for 22 years, and remains free of financial corruption to-date. Should we expect him to stand against establishment (which would equate supporting MMNS & his corruption)? If I were him, I wouldn't do that. But then, being on the side of the rogue hand in order to get power? I safely assume that they have already told him what to do and what not to even think of doing. What can he deliver then?
Lets say Khan is in power for another term. Only a fool will think that it will be a peaceful period. But the fact remains that MMNS and family is not at a stage of politics where they can call for a 128 days sit-in in the capital. Only young, politically young, will do it. Sit-in or no sit-in, , a peaceful term cannot be a given thing. Whatever it may be, it will be a huge test. While he can try to de-politicise the police and improve dispensation of justice to the people, army is a direct stake holder in many of the issues being faced by the public. Sooner or later he will talk about budget, foreign policy, civilian supermacy, audit etc. What will happen then? Who will stand with him when everyone he opposed would be on the other side?
But, do I have a choice?
Should I vote for PMLN this time? If PTI is establishment’s party, then PMLN is the elite’s party. During the current term no one from establishment had stopped PMLN from doing the police reforms, improvement in health & education & delivery of justice let alone the bigger national issues like building dams and planting trees. But what they did was the same what any elite party would do, mega projects & mega corruption. Neither the common man nor his problems were on PMLN agenda. They are a wealthy elite with one priority, protect their wealth. There was a slight look of a statesman in MMNS when he mended his way with Shaheed Mohterma Benazir Bhutto and vowed to protect democracy in any situation. But that slight hint went in the air during PPP government term. When Asif Zardari says that MMNS stabbed him in the back again and again, no one needs another testimony. PMLN is a bunch of corrupt elite who are fooling nation into believing that they are protecting democracy for the people. Democracy begins at home i.e. in the party.
What about People’s Party Pakistan? Looking back at 1990s, the way MMNS used his dirty politics against SMBB, I cannot help but recall all the propaganda that reached me and my family living in a far off area of Punjab, it fills my heart with pain and shame. But after murder, PPP is still recovering from the damage and Bilawal Zardari is still learning the dynamics of pakistani politics. He has a long way to go, may be not today. He doesn’t have that grip on his party that one needs to have in order to play good politics. I see him as a potential leader in the making.
But for the moment, I would go with Imran Khan. I tell myself again & again (until it sound true) that its a mere coincidence and MMNS was good enough to destroy himself even if there was no Imran Khan. Because he was corrupt and incompetent and they were watching him since the day they recruited him. Call me a youthiya or whatever, but my mind says that only a newcomer can be given the mandate for change. And if Imran Khan doesn’t, I will never try to be a blind follower of him. May be in next few years, PPP gets back in Punjab and we have a choice. For the moment, its only PTI.