History is repeating itself as a new party comes out of the PTI– a new party because a horde of defectors is forging connections with each other to construct a political platform for venting a common expression. Whether pre-fix or post-fix, titles being bandied about such as “haqeeqi” (real), “nazriati” (ideological), and so on.
Of a new version of the PTI, Jahangir Tareen is a bugle (a big brass trumpet aka “Tanbay Ka Baja”) to publicize the meeting point: Get assembled for kick-starting a new political excursion. Funds are galore and political experience is immense. Relive a new version of political life.
Any new version may render the old version fight for its sovereign identity. The old version may recede to a title such as Imran Khan’s PTI or the PTI-Imran to get itself discerned from the new version, which could be the PTI-Tareen– an odd collection of the like-minded, who were victims of the post-May 9 crackdown launched by the state. The grievances of the like-minded are two: first, though they were not part of the decision making, they bore the brunt of decisions taken first in Bani Gala and then in Zaman Park; second, the PTI Chairman left them in the lurch.
Excessive summer heat in an over-crowded kothri (cell) of jail made the vaunted ethereal “insaf” (justice) spirit fade away. Unpurified and un-cold drinking water, unhygienic and un-spicy food, and unclean and unsanitary toilets were enough to dissipate the spirit of revolution: making a Sri Lanka in Pakistan.
Uncontrolled and unrestrained air attacks of mosquitoes reinforced the lurch. Stoicism burst into pieces. The refuge was sought in arranging cyclostyled press conferences to declare public dissociation from the PTI-Imran – and graduate to be defectors. Post-press conference is the restart of the five-star luxury lifestyle, shutting up the factory of churning out dreams of revolts– bringing about retributive revolutions.
The retreat of retired army generals-turned-political commentators, in the guise of defence analysts, is conspicuous. Most have fled from talk shows and have ensconced themselves in the confines of their extravagant ship-like villas in gated barbed communities. Those who dare to appear are laden with the tools of “ifs and buts”, before someone shame them for provoking the youth into indecency and disorder which culminated in arson and anarchy on May 9. They wanted civilians to fight against civilians. They tried their best to keep on encouraging the “insaf” ideologues to undercut the incumbent government into collapse. Nevertheless, their problem was that they had never seen an emotionally charged mob resorting to frenzied acts and frantic vandalism, which eventually engulfed symbols of their own institution. Now, refuge has been sought in the sanctity of institutional symbols. What about the sanctity of the constitution? It was the Government of India Act 1935, which made the argument for a separate homeland, Pakistan, possible. It has been the constitution first.
Even in the public domain, the Army has to establish the relationship between the desecration of symbols and the justification for constituting or running Army courts to punish civilians. It is a matter of law and not of the Army’s sweet will. Listen to the people who say that the Army runs on the taxpayers’ money: A salaried class cannot rule over the benefactors. The Army has to justify legally and publicly its intent or act of punishing civilians.
In any emerging political format, what the Tareen group has to do is not to repeat the mistakes of the PTI-Imran, which had acted as a mother institution to make and train politicians of “insaf” ideology. In fact, the division of the PTI would be the division of “insaf” ideology. The PTI-Tareen has to come up with a cogent palatable understanding of “insaf” to convince the workers, who remained motivated to transform society by heating the streets. Foul mouthing was the main instrument. Burgeoning fake news was another. Post-May 9 calm on both electronic and social media is a hiatus of soothing for the otherwise restless nerves.
The PTI-Tareen may adopt the motto of making a new Pakistan with a new PTI, a PTI which learnt from the mistakes of the PTI-Imran and which would distance itself from undemocratic and unconstitutional stances. Further, the PTI-Tareen would be shorn of any obsession of bringing any kind of Arab Spring to Pakistan, which is a democratic constitutional country open to reforms through Parliament and Constitution.
Post-formation, the first expected effort of the PTI-Tareen would be to send its members back to Parliament, from where they had resigned at the behest of their former association, now called the PTI-Imran. Though Tareen is yet to get a certificate of legitimacy from the court of law to contest future elections, he is all set to spearhead the movement of normalcy. If not all, most defectors-turned-democrats would try to establish their democratic credentials by cashing in on the offered political platform.
Abdul Aleem Khan may also be a founder, supported by Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar. This combination must be a temptation for Ch Pervaiz Elahi to join ranks to recover the dream of being the Chief Minister of Punjab and save the skin of his son, Moonis Elahi, from corruption charges. Politicians are great opportunists. They respect principles less and bow to prospects more. They will not disappoint an onlooker this time too.
As obvious, the PTI-Imran is bound to be reduced to the chairman himself followed by the ex-members of the Jamaat-i-Islami, who are mostly relatives of each other, fighting for a shared cause: political eminence. They have made the PTI-Imran their own fiefdom. Nevertheless, the PTI-Imran would get substantial political support from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the youth abhor the imperious and officious posture of the Army.
The reaction of civilians to the trial of fellow civilians by the Army courts is bound to decide the immediate future of politics. The trial would be a blot on the face of democracy and constitutionalism. The Army is not entitled to run such courts because its own institution (and associated intelligence agencies) was instrumental in the rise of the PTI (the original version), assemblage of electables (who are today’s defectors), and the brainwashing of the youth. The unflinching desire for exacting “positive reporting” suppressed the voice of reason and elevated the voice of prejudice, and thus made this country come to such an ugly pass.
Nevertheless, there is no dictionary available to define the term army “installations” the way the term is being defined by the Army. Even the notorious Black’s Law Dictionary defies the interpretation. Secondly, even in the public domain, the Army has to establish the relationship between the desecration of symbols and the justification for constituting or running Army courts to punish civilians. It is a matter of law and not of the Army’s sweet will. Listen to the people who say that the Army runs on the taxpayers’ money: A salaried class cannot rule over the benefactors. The Army has to justify legally and publicly its intent or act of punishing civilians.