In the given circumstances we are left with no option but to hope and pray that things do not get out of control. In any such eventuality democracy, no matter what sham, shall be the biggest loser
Ansar M Bhatti
The recent developments that everybody witnessed in the past few days should not augur well for the future of democracy in Pakistan. Actually there has never been a true democratic system in place here perhaps ever since the inception of this country and the sham democracy that we have been cherising has simply failed to deliver the goods. The Constitution of Pakistan too is unable to provide relief to the hapless ones simply because it has never been followed in letter and spirit. The ‘might is right’ mantra has always ruled supreme. Probably that is why at times both the military and political leadership had to think about introducing the Presidential form of government with this hope that this system might help in improving the governance and turning the huddle into a nation. But all such plans could not work. And they cannot work because we need to change faces as well along with the system.
The government, supported by other stakeholders, is trying its best to get the Punjab and KP elections postponed or delayed and the emerging political scenario suggests as if the government is close to achieving this end. When it comes to holding elections hardly there are any voices that would go against this idea. However there is also a consensus that a political dialogue is a must in order to pave the way for agreement on the issue of elections for which all political forces need to sit together. Even the PTI Chairman hinted at a possible dialogue with the government and sources claim some back channel diplomacy is already in progress spearheaded by the Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani from the government side but on the other hand it also remains a fact that the way the PTI leadership is being treated would make it difficult for the mediators to do any wonders.
Implication of Imran Khan in almost hundred cases and rounding up of the senior PTI leadership are ostensibly not the steps that can lead to any confidence building measures. Talk-talk, fight-fight policy won’t serve anybody’s purpose. When Imran Khan got bail in seven cases within a short span of time it appeared as if the back channel contacts had done the trick but then what happened in Islamabad Judicial Complex and at the Zaman Park while the PTI chief was appearing before the court in Islamabad dashed all hopes of a rapprochement. After that incident things seem to have reached back to square one. Even in this case, efforts for reconciliation must not stop because that is the only way to sort our differences in a democratic manner.
Countries like America and Saudi Arabia have also called upon the stakeholders in Pakistan to reach an agreement to end the ongoing impasse. The former Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Ali Asseri wrote an article yesterday in which he urged the political and military leadership to find a way out of ongoing economic and political crises.
“With political conflict and economic crisis reinforcing each other, the end result can only be disastrous. Averting this eventuality requires a renewed spirit of reconciliation and restraint by all political players and state institutions,” he wrote in his article.
The delay in the IMF tranche is giving birth to weird conspiracy theories. Just yesterday the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that the delay in the IMF agreement was due to some technical reasons and they were in constant touch with the Fund in order to get the tranche through. The IMF perhaps wants some sort of political stability before the staff level agreement. The government on the other hand is dying for this agreement because its political future is at stake. The friendly countries too have declined to help before the staff level agreement. Only China is showing some benevolence by extending small amounts, which of course, are not enough to prop up the sagging economy and fast depleting foreign exchange reserves.
Things are getting worse with each passing day. The PTI has announced a public procession at Minar-e-Pakistan tomorrow. The PTI plans to put up a huge power show provided it is allowed by the Lahore administration to hold this gathering. Disallowing the procession may further aggravate the already charged political situation. In the given circumstances we are left with no option but to hope and pray that things do not get out of control. In any such eventuality democracy, no matter what sham, shall be the biggest loser.