The Nawaz Conundrum
Imran Khan’s accusations of poll rigging have been the most ill managed affair of the Nawaz regime and one that could come to haunt and define his third term, should it get truncated, as his previous two.
A recent example of prevailing malaise and unholy alliances were the appointments of Najam Sethi to the PCB job and also the making of Arsalan Iftikhar, Vice Chairman of BIB. Although, the initial backlash has gradually subsided, after Arsalan iftikhar and Najam Sethi both resigned under spotlight and unrelenting pressure, it goes to show how badly out of touch Mian Sahib is from the sensitivities and pre-occupation of a middle class, the common man on the street and the Pakistan diaspora, increasingly cynical of political expediency and vigilant of blatant rewards for back scratching. At best, its an embarrassing faux pas and at worst an audacious and cavalier disregard for popular sentiment.
The fact notwithstanding, that since neither of the two, rewarded with probably two of the most sought after jobs in Pakistan, had any background or experience in the job they were entrusted to perform; could not the close advisers of this ship wreck of a kitchen cabinet, advise the ever blundering Mian Sahib, a more creative and discreet way of rewarding Najam Sethi’s and Ch. Iftikhar’s good turns? Perhaps, a discreet and cushy foreign office posting? No wonder, this precipitated the rancour from the status quo of an already fragile acceptance of transparency, or lack of, by which the election results were viewed by the losing opposition parties and not least the general public. The rising passions and awareness of the general public is such, that these types of ‘political rewarding” is not going to be brushed under the carpet anymore and is something that just does not go away as easily, as it used to in the past.
Not that a rigged election is a new phenomenon in Pakistan’s stuttering democracy, the incumbents have lost touch with the youth and the middle class, that’s ever more aware and active in the political discourse. Neither the PPP nor the PMLN, and also not forgetting the ubiquitous army misadventures of the past, have ever been held accountable for any of their indiscretions with the ballot boxes in past elections, while passing through the ever revolving front doors to the PM or the President’s house.
The nation of Pakistan is a forgiving lot. It has given both the PPP and the PMLN three separate opportunities to run the country. With what was, at least on surface, a landslide mandate, the Nawaz regime in its first 15 months in power should have withstood the “rigging” onslaught with populist measures, which could have dampened Mr. Khan’s growing rhetoric which has now crescendoed into a full blown “Azadi March”
With the population facing raging floods,
energy shambles resulting in grueling power outages, chronic CNG and gas shortages, an enemy within bent upon causing mass murder, joblessness, and countless other woes that make it a daily grind for the masses, the Zarb e Azab campaign is a great example of a populist endeavor that resonates sans party affiliation, race, religion or creed.
Perhaps a pro-active engagement with PTI on their grievances on rigging, better preparedness of imminent annual monsoon floods or better tackling of the energy crisis could have avoided this massive distraction for the government, which bodes ill for the fledgling economy and the not so small matter of governance, which no one seems to be practicing with the ubiquitous Mr. Khan, not going away quietly, anytime soon, into the sunset.
What would Mian Sahib now give to have eked out some early damage control and placating the aggrieved Mr. Khan?