- The clash of institutions
Fire and fury. War of the words. Salvo of political statements. Barrage of allegations. These are among the many situations people of Pakistan have been witnessing since the 2013 General Elections.
Even after having a considerable majority in the National Assembly the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) seemed to be pretty much defensive on the political battlefield. Soon after the elections, Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf (PTI) seized the initiative of declaring the elections to be rigged and engineered especially in Punjab – the kingmaker province. PTI’s timely advance and a continuous follow up significantly put the incumbent party on the back foot.
The dharna episode was the culminating point of victory for PTI in maligning the PML-N. However, a few variables greatly faded PTI’s endeavour to oust the government. Then PTI leader Javed Hashmi, and his allegations of establishment being behind the dharna raised suspicions. Similarly, the attack on Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, left PTI with no choice but to call off the sit-in – technically, it was a retreat not a withdrawal. The actual thing that instead of adding flavour to PTI’s political high ground – diminished moral grounds – was Imran Khan’s marriage to Reham Khan in a clandestine manner. Imran really made a counter-productive move that perhaps he is still suffering from. Imran’s overall political strategy is appreciable and commendable; nonetheless, his tactics are highly questionable and moot-able.
The people of Pakistan are rational and would never accept to compromise the desecration of their will and collective wisdom
After the verdict of July 28, 2018, disqualifying former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – he and his comrades seem to be on the offensive. There are three main reasons for him being on the assault – two are pessimistic while the third one is relatively real; i) To build pressure that can be translated to mobilise people in the worst case scenario, ii) To remain relevant in the political landscape, iii) Nawaz has nothing to lose since he is already declared ineligible to hold any public office. Apparently, PML-N has garnered enough public support that it can threaten or perhaps confront any institution in Pakistan – consequently, it is enhancing Sharif’s political deterrence.
Deception is a prerequisite in every offensive. Perhaps Nehal Hashmi was a gambit. His indictment and subsequent punishment by the Supreme Court of Pakistan gave PML-N two advantages and opportunities; i) To gather sympathy and popular public sentiment to be a victim of the judicial onslaught, and, ii) To open a pathway of criticism on the judgments. The inherent problem with war is that it always demands sacrifices and pawns are usually meant to be expendable. Apparently, PML-N achieved the envisaged objectives by using Nehal as a decoy.
The recently removed Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) spokesman Farhatullah Babar made a calculated spatter and calibrated speech in the Senate. His remarks as they were reported by Express Tribune included ‘judicialisation of politics and politicisation of the judiciary’ – presence of ‘state within a state’ and the ‘helplessness of the parliament’. He added that the ‘upcoming elections are going to be a referendum on the judiciary’. His comments are multi-vectored since it was his farewell address and ostensibly he reflected his frustration in the inability of the Parliament. Nonetheless, his comments on one hand were a charge sheet against the Honourable Parliamentarians. While on the other hand, he repeated the same – more or less rhetoric as Nehal Hashmi did.
It is an established opinion of political analysts that judicial verdicts must reflect the will of the people at large. Or at least decisions should have a certain level of acceptability among the people. The honourable and learned judges being the custodian of law and the constitution are well aware of these very facts. Perhaps the excessive judicial activism has backfired and now the PML-N, PPP and other political entities with other commentators are targeting the judiciary – using the breakthrough achieved by Nehal Hashmi.
The people of Pakistan are rational and would never accept to compromise the desecration of their will and collective wisdom. Quite worryingly while using social media why people are speculating about a ‘judicial martial law’. It is comprehensible that collective wisdom is the right wisdom while democracy allows people to elect what they think is best for them. The political culture of Pakistan is nurturing and probably the appearance of national institutions reflects the same. It is feared by the author that a clear and present danger of clash exists among institutions and it is a matter of time that they might clash.
It is undeniable and irrefutable that PML-N still retains a significant level of public support. Conceivably, besides the government could not deliver according to the wishes and needs of the people at large – it can be predicted here that while keeping in view the current and recent-past voting trends – the upcoming 2018 general elections would result in at least 190 seats for PML-N in the National Assembly, almost 300 seats in Punjab, 60 seats in KPK, 20 in Sindh and 35 in Balochistan.