Politics of muk muka

How they look out for each other

When PPP and PML(N) were taking turns in the 90s it was known as the ‘lost decade’. Unfortunately, history is repeating itself.

For too long, leaders without any beliefs and convictions, with only personal gains in mind, have led Pakistan to the path of destruction with their “lacklustre” performance and “dictated policies” that have time and again proven lethal for Pakistan’s sovereignty. It has become normal practice for those in the echelons of power to make hay while the sun shines. It’s like there is a “loot sale” on and everything is available at “cut price” and one is not subject to being called “to account” because one enjoys the power to exonerate others for their misdeeds. If things continue like this, the ‘muk muka’ can and will never end.

Commenting on the issue, former MNA Nosheen Saeed told DNA that the two mainstream parties of Pakistan have a pact to watch each other’s back, especially over corruption. Mostly the hullabaloo is to divert unwanted attention from oneself and to distract the public from the issues at hand.

Nosheen added that when the PPP was in power, PML(N) voiced concern against the government’s policies in parliament and even went to court.

“In spite of that the ban on third time prime minister ship and chief minister ship was lifted by adding new features into the constitution,” she said.

“The truth is that all the coalition partners of the government, including the Punjab establishment, were on board to secure the saddle.”

No government can fail to deliver on promises, fall short of improving people’s lives, continue with bad governance, massive corruption and persist with the worst abuses of public trust without political backing and assurances of some sort. If a real opposition existed there would have been some sort of checks and balances.

“Good governance, transparency and merit can only exist if there is no ‘muk muka’,” Nosheen added.

She also said it is the under-hand deal between PPP and PML(N) that gives carte blanche to “executive abuse of power”, unrestrained corruption and cronyism, misuse of government resources and premeditated crime and lawlessness.

“How can one person have the power to hold the entire country hostage and run it in an opportunistic, deceptive, uncontrolled and unregulated manner unless he knows that he will not be held accountable and is not answerable to anyone?” She asked.

Karachi operation and establishment targeting the three parties

However, political analyst Marvi Sirmed said ‘muk muka’ is not the right word for it. “But yes there seems to be a consensus among the two parties to keep bailing each other out whenever the establishment tries to cut them to size,” said Marvi.

“The way the Karachi operation is going, the way Sindh’s Apex Committee has been working as opposed to the other provinces’ Apex Committees, and the way the civilian government is being pushed to the wall on various policy fronts is a glaring case of establishment targeting three parties mainly, i.e., PPP, MQM and PML(N).”

Games played by the military establishment

She added MQM has kept itself out of such an arrangement, mainly because it has always been a junior partner in ruling coalitions, and has never feared direct political subjugation by the establishment. Yet this has changed and the establishment is now directly targeting MQM too, which it never foresaw.

“Due to this ‘pressure of the unseen’ both the bigger parties had entered into this understanding to not be part of the games played by the military establishment,” added Marvi.

It was part of the Charter of Democracy too. But now it is clearly exceeding the limits set by the CoD. From not being part of the establishment’s games to pulling the civilian government’s legs’ to always bailing out each other out, the journey has been made because of PTI’s strategy of lending itself to the establishment — with or without having a structured agreement with the latter.

Marvi said that from the anti-drone campaign to the dharna, from lashing out on Geo to running a campaign against PML(N) instead of putting a strong opposition on the floor of the parliament, to the policies of the government, PTI has clearly chosen to always do proactively what it perceives to be the wish of the establishment. “This has made PPP and PML(N) paranoid as well.”

She opined that secondly, in Pakistan unfortunately, accountability is almost always used to push unwanted political players to the wall in order to create space for new political proxies. PTI (not necessarily Imran Khan himself) being the new kid on the block, terribly needs political space, which can only be made if the political turf of PPP and PML(N) is either gifted to it entirely or is shared with it.

“In doing that, ‘accountability’, ‘governance’ and ‘NAP’ are being used as ploys. This has pushed these two parties further closer in terms of not opposing each other because it would create space for establishment’s political proxies,” explained Marvi.

“And in all that, the only losers are people and democracy. But I would not solely blame the political parties for this. It is high time that the establishment learns from history and stop playing these bizarre games.”

She further said that for these political parties, if they keep letting themselves going with the flow created by the establishment, they would very soon lose any pubic legitimacy that they have been left with. Vested interests, corruption and rent-seeking as the only viable political option have rendered these parties ever weaker.

Agreeing with Marvi, PML(N)’s legislator Hina Pervaiz Butt stated that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has been baselessly accusing the political parties of being involved in alleged ‘muk muka’. The idea has now become old and the people have realised that PTI would go to any extent to destabilise the political system, just to achieve its own benefits.

Hina added that Pakistan is facing harsh challenges, especially on the security front, and it is the responsibility of every political party to join hands with government and help change the country for the better, instead of holding purposeless protests and sit-ins against the government.

“In these testing times, extraordinary measures are required and for that the government needs the support of all political parties. We can also issue fact sheets on PTI’s performance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa every day but we abstain from indulging into any political point scoring as we understand the value of collective harmony and nation building,” Hina said adding that PTI Chairman Imran Khan should realise that his political tactics have failed.

“Criticism just for the sake of it won’t solve the issues of the country and instead of labelling other political parties of being part of the alleged “status quo”, PTI should learn to perform and act with maturity, both politically and morally,” said Hina.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan vs Khurshid Shah

Imran Khan reacted to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s statement of Khurshid Shah’s deal with the government, asking the question is what price Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has paid to make PPP a friendly opposition.

“The truth is finally out on the PML(N)-PPP muk muka, which the PTI pointed out repeatedly,” Imran Khan said in a message on social media.

The interior minister’s statement after his absence from the national scene for about a week has gone viral on electronic, print and social media. And, it is being debated if the statement will go in favour of the government and bring down the political temperature or otherwise.

While accusing Khurshid Shah, Chaudhry Nisar claimed that the PTI had been talking about the deal with the ruling party and he was confirming it and knew exactly what benefit went to the opposition leader.

However, lawyer Jalal Hussain was of the opinion that the so called ‘muk muka’ alleged by the PTI refers to a collusion between the two main parties to protect their vested interests.

Jalal added that PTI alleged that through this ‘muk muka’ forces of the status quo have created a model of governance whereby the state caters for the elite, where the elite sponge off the poor and the poor subsidise the rich.

“For the ‘muk muka’ to have run its course would require an upheaval of the system, a radical transformation of the political economy of Pakistan,” he said.

“Minor tussles between the forces of the status quo representing different political parties do not represent an end to this so called collusion.”

PIA privatisation

Jalal added that the government was pressurised into launching the Karachi operation by the military. PIA’s privatisation was a result of the conditions imposed by the IMF and the government has now backed down after strong protests from PIA employees.

“Throughout Pakistan’s history there has been a discernable deficit between imagining an ideal form of a state and the intended structure of power,” said Jalal adding that the concepts of rights, representation, etc, enshrined in the constitution have been in conflict with the wishes of the status quo parties who have tried to flex and mould the constitution and laws to suit their designs.

He opined that ‘muk muka’ will not end till the power structure stops seeking self-aggrandisement and personal benefit at the expense of the public.

“For the muk muka to truly end, the power structure must take responsibility to bring reform within itself and there has to be a convergence between an agreed goal and a means to achieve it,” said Jalal.

Agreeing with Jalal, political analyst Faraz Darvesh told DNA that after the PIA case, it looked as if PML(N) and PPP muk muka may get temporarily suspended due to dispute over Dr Asim Hussain’s trial and the Karachi operation. However, due to the continuous threat from army establishment, they may resume their muk muka in the long run unless they deviate from their policy of strengthening democracy.

Hassan Naqvi

The writer is an Islamabad-based senior investigative journalist who covers politics, economy and militancy. He can be reached at: [email protected]; and on Twitter @hassannaqvi5.



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