Never ending agony 

The ego of one person is playing havoc with the whole system

It is beyond dispute that the country is immersed in the worst ever economic and political crisis, courtesy the shenanigans of the military dictators, and continued interference by the establishment in the political domain and dirty politics by the unscrupulous politicians. As a result the hapless masses are groaning under the crushing blow of the never-ending agony.

The fact that Pakistan sought IMF bail-outs 23 times beginning from 1958 proves beyond an iota of doubt that the talk about development and prosperity by successive rulers was nothing but a farce. They have been duping the masses with false narratives and claims. Is it not a matter of shame that even after 75 years of independence we are running around with a begging bowl to keep the country afloat and confronting perennial political instability with its overall debilitating impact on the polity? Even more painful reality is that nobody is bothered about the plight of the people and state interests. The game of power politics continues unabated.

The architect of the present situation is surely Imran Khan who was catapulted to the corridors of power through a conspiracy orchestrated by the establishment and given finality by some pliable judges of the apex court.

Since his party emerged on the political horizon in 2013 by obtaining only 35 seats in a house of 372, Imran has been fomenting political instability in the country. He alleged that the elections were rigged and also accused the Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi of having manipulated 35 seats in favour of the PML(N) which he called ‘punctures’. He demanded judicial inquiry into his allegations regarding rigging. However when the judicial commission announced its findings in July 2015 falsifying his claims of rigging, Imran in an interview with a private TV channel admitted that allegations regarding ‘35 punctures’ were only political talk. He said that somebody had told him about it and he made it a basis of his campaign against the government.

He refused to trust the findings of the commission and later on along with Canada-returned cleric Tahirul Qadri staged a 126-day sit-in at Islamabad paralyzing the state machinery and attacking the Parliament and PTV. They refused to talk with the government and demanded its resignation. But the situation was saved due to the solidarity shown by the political parties in the parliament with the PML (N) government and the sit-in finally ended without achieving its declared objectives.

It is also pertinent to point that between 2013 and 2018 PTI members did not fulfil their mandatory role in Parliament as they frequently boycotted the sessions and whenever they attended it was only to create rumpus and sabotage the proceedings of the House.

It would have been advisable for the CJP to have constituted a full court bench to hear such a crucial issue as demanded by all political parties except PTI, so that nobody could dispute the verdict of the court. In my view determining the constitutionality of the move to dissolve the provincial assemblies is more important than resolving the date issue. It is a secondary issue. If the court as a result of its deliberations arrives at a conclusion that the assemblies were dissolved in conformity with the constitution; it could then consider the validity of the order of the President to fix the date.

Come 2018 General Elections, a real rigging by the praetorian powers helped the PTI emerge as the single largest party and form the government in the Centre through manipulation. This has now been corroborated beyond an iota of doubt because of the events that have unfolded after his exit from power and the revelations made by ex-COAS Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa through a journalist as well as the confession by President Arif Alvi recently that the General did help the PTI in 2018 elections as well as the Senate polls.

While in power he resorted to a vendetta against his political opponents by instituting corruption cases against them and also incarcerating some of them, courtesy the compromised NAB Chairman. It is pertinent to point out that during the hearing of those cases, the High Courts and Supreme Court repeatedly observed that NAB was being used for political engineering. No wonder then that most of the leaders against whom corruption cases were made, have been acquitted by the courts of law for lack of any corroborative evidence.

His government also failed to stabilize the economy notwithstanding the fact that it resorted to unprecedented borrowing. His claims and pledges for eliminating corruption also proved hollow as the Amnesty International in its annual report revealed that corruption, instead of decreasing, had increased during his rule. It was probably in the backdrop of his dismal performance that the establishment decided to remain apolitical and not to support him in his confrontation with the PDM. The parties in the alliance after having been pushed to the wall decided to hit back and ousted him through no-confidence motion as per the procedure laid down in the constitution.

After having failed to thwart the no-confidence motion through unconstitutional means he came up with a false narrative of conspiracy against his government orchestrated by the USA and the establishment. However as usual he took a somersault on US involvement but kept blaming General Bajwa for the debacle that he had to face and he still continues in the same vein.

Instead of remaining part of the National Assembly and playing a role as opposition leader he chose to resign en masse from the National Assembly and later also retracted that. To build further pressure on the government and force it to hold immediate general elections, he also dissolved the Punjab and KPK Assemblies without any justification, except for assuaging his false ego. Countries are not run on the whims and in conformity with the egos of leaders. His false ego and obstinate child-like pursuits continue to further deteriorate the situation.

Of late President Alvi, acting on his wish– amidst controversy in regards to elections in KPK and Punjab— has announced April 9 as the date for elections in the two provinces in spite of the fact that he did not have the power to announce elections in the provinces. The matter is now before the Supreme Court on suo motu notice. However on the first day of hearing four judges pulled out of the nine-member bench constituted to hear the case.  Mr Justice Athar Minnalah rightly remarked that first of all there was a need to deliberate on the constitutionality of the dissolution of the two assemblies. Mr Justice Mandokhel observed that he saw no justification for suo motu notice of the issue under Article 184 of the Constitution.

These are very pertinent observations.  What will be the outcome of the hearing cannot be predicted. However, it is hoped that the bench would give due consideration to the observations of Mr Justice Athar Minallah and Mr Justice Mandokhel before deliberating on the issue of the date of elections. The assemblies were dissolved on the insistence of a man who was not actually a stakeholder in regards to the tenure of the provincial assemblies. It would have been advisable for the CJP to have constituted a full court bench to hear such a crucial issue as demanded by all political parties except PTI, so that nobody could dispute the verdict of the court.  In my view determining the constitutionality of the move to dissolve the provincial assemblies is more important than resolving the date issue. It is a secondary issue. If the court as a result of its deliberations arrives at a conclusion that the assemblies were dissolved in conformity with the constitution; it could then consider the validity of the order of the President to fix the date.

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Malik Muhammad Ashraf
Malik Muhammad Ashraf
Malik Muhammad Ashraf is an academic. He can be contacted at: [email protected].

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