Pakistan’s Political Démarche

By Muhammad Saifullah Khosa

The story of political turmoil in Pakistan is deep rooted not a novel news yet the tug of war for the succession of the crown of Islamabad, especially since last week, has resulted into severe political and constitutional damage what happened on Sunday was undoubtedly ignominious.

The drama entered into interval when an alliance of opposition parties filed the motion against Khan on March 8th, saying he had lost his parliamentary majority after more than a dozen defections from his party. Government officials responded by threatening violence and briefly detainingtwo members of parliament. The situation risked spiraling into a dangerous confrontation. On the other hand, PM called it a blessing for him as it was to expose the corrupt people until he realized that he is losing majority, Khan has called on the public to show support for his premiership by holding a “Amal-Bil-Maroof” rally in Islamabad on March 27.

During his address Mr. Khan alleged that the no-confidence vote was a “foreign conspiracy”, citing an alleged “threat letter” from the US about his removal. (The US has denied any involvement). After using all the delaying tactics from calling it a foreign conspiracy to asking LEA’s to intervene, with no reason left to delay the voting further, owing to the constitutional constraints, government finally announced –unhappily- to hold voting on Sunday. Stage was set by opposition allies to oust him but Mr. Khan stunned the country by taking the dramatic action of dissolving the legislature prior to a parliamentary vote that could have stripped him of his premiership hours before the vote was due to take place. This move might have served the interests of PTI led government but it has pushed Pakistan to the brink of asevere political and constitutional crisis. The maneuver also risked destabilizing the fragile democracy in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation.

Further, the move appeared, to many, as aninsolent bid by Mr. Khan to remain in power despite losing the backing of the military and facing growing opposition even within his own party. Mr. Khan came into power on the back of what many believe was the backing of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment, who still hold substantial sway and grip over the quasi-civilian government. Due to such reasons many feared that the political turmoil puts Pakistan’s fragile civilian democracy at risk and could pave the way for the country’s powerful military establishment to step in and declare martial law or seize control in a coup, as has happened multiple times in Pakistan’s history since its inception in 1947.

The sharp move by Mr. Khan has dazed opposition lawmakers, they havechallenged the move before the country’s Supreme Court, calling it “unprecedented” and a “blatant violation” of Pakistan’s Constitution. Nascent democracy has been hit and damaged in a very brutal way, say opposition parties and proponents of civilian supremacy. Imran Khan is facing accusations of treason while he celebrates it as victory.

The chief justice of the Supreme Court, Umar Ata Bandial, has convened a hearing into whether the deputy speaker had the constitutional authority to throw out a no-confidence vote. Chief judge reiterated that no political party had a right to make unconstitutional decisions and sent a notice to the attorney general. Not long afterwards, the deputy attorney general resigned, stating that he could not defend the government’s actions in dissolving parliament.

Since the ball is in court, the fate of the Pakistani democracy and constitutional supremacy is yet to be decided, once again in the apex court.

Pakistan’s potential fresh instability comes as it faces high inflation, dwindling foreign reserves and widening increasing deficits. In addition to economic crisis, Islamabad faces challenges including an attempt to balance global pressure to prod the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan to meet human rights commitments while trying to limit instability there.

But a matter of high concern is that no prime minister in Pakistan has finished a full five-year term since independence from Britain in 1947, and generals on several occasions have ruled the country, which is perennially at odds with fellow nuclear-armed neighbor India. Sadly, earlier today when the drama started, the majority of young people, without understanding the sensitivity of the issue, started supporting their political masters blindly which clearly envisages that our youth is heading towards idealizing the personalities rather than policies. Peoples reaction showed that they had nothing to do with constitution such fragile mentality will have long lasting devastating implications for the generations to come. Pakistan is direly in need of developing a civic political culture in which political parties has to play a leading role in order to build a mature nation which could have values and can safeguard their constitution rather than a bunch of stagnant breathing bodies.

Twitter @saifullahkhoso

Categories: News & Analysis

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