- Three odd events and the establishment
When things are going badly for a political party, or if an alliance between disparate groups suddenly takes place during a period of turmoil, accusatory fingers are instinctively pointed at the euphemistically termed ‘non-political’ actors, ‘unelected’ elements and the ubiquitous ‘establishment’. Surprisingly, in our political nomenclature, the latter term implies the military alone, whereas in the British ‘Mother of Parliaments’ from which our system traces its ancestry (at least in theory), the ‘Crown’ which rules the United Kingdom encompasses the monarch, parliament, cabinet, the judiciary, the civil service and armed forces.
At various times, mainstream parties have accused shadowy behind-the-scenes forces (when not actually in power) of conspiring to overthrow their governments, sometimes not without reason as our history vividly reveals, but lately, it would seem, more out of angry feelings of persecution, than being rooted in fact. The present PML-N leadership for instance is desperately trying to link corruption scandals with the imagined machinations of the establishment, which for them now also includes the superior judiciary.
However, three peculiar events in quick succession have given fresh heart to the establishment-bashers and the conspiracy theorists: the embarrassing debacles, both short-lived, of the MQM(P)-PSP Karachi merger and the 23 party ‘Grand Alliance’ of that eternal optimist, Pervez Musharraf, and more seriously the attempts to revive the MMA, an alliance of Islamist parties, which ended amid mutual recrimination and clashing party and personal interests in 2008 and has remained dead as dodo since then. If the Karachi fiasco, was presumed to be directed against the PPP, and the Musharraf led alliance against the PML-N the still uncertain MMA revival is likely to act as spoiler for both the PML-N and PTI, who rule in collaboration with the JUI-F and JI at the center and KP respectively . The PTI also enjoys the political support of the JUI-S. Perhaps, if the leaders of the conventional parties were realistic and objective, they could possibly discern their own unprincipled politics of aligning with any party which can sustain them in power irrespective of its political orientation.