Pakistan’s current Political Crisis
The prevalent political turmoil in Pakistan is not about the Azadi or Inqilab march only. Whatever we are witnessing today in Islamabad has a deep connection with what happened in last year’s elections and before.
Imran Khan’s stance
In case of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – the party led by Imran Khan – the problem dates back to the last year’s elections in the country. Questions today are been raised as to why PTI never talked about the election riggings earlier and why this chaos is been created only now. This confusion needs to be clarified first. PTI had raised concerns over the irregularities in the elections even before the official announcement was made about PMLN winning with majority in the National Assembly. Not only PTI but many other political parties had serious doubts over the transparency and fairness of the elections 2013. PTI kept revealing the proofs it had to justify the riggings over the period of time. A sensible person would definitely ask, why would one take it to the streets to protest against the injustice instead of going to the courts? If we see the course of events of the past year since the elections were conducted, what PTI had been doing is asking for justice, going to the courts, trying to get themselves heard, but somehow, the appeals and petitions were never processed as it should have happened. In order to prove massive riggings, PTI demanded verification and recounting of only 4 constituencies. But the verification was never done. It leads one to ponder why the government never paid any heed to such a repetitive demand by one of the prominent opposition parties? Perhaps, the government was already aware of how massively rigged those 4 constituencies actually were.
Imran Khan had warned to be on streets in case PTI doesn’t get justice, therefore, he made it happen as soon as the deadline he had announced was over. It still took PTI a period of 14 months to finally use the option of street protests when it became obvious that justice is being delayed only by giving lame excuses. The Azadi March hence, became the last resort for PTI to make itself heard. Since it has enough proofs to believe that public mandate had been stolen, PTI terms the Nawaz regime as illegal and not genuine.
Tahir-ul-Qadri & his Movement:
Pakistan Awami Tehreek may not be a mainstream political party, but Tahir-ul-Qadri – mostly known as a cleric having his own religious centre known as Minhaj-ul-Quran, has been involved in the politics of Pakistan to a certain extent.
Qadri’s struggle against the prevailing political setup in the country initiated in December 2012 when he mobilized his supporters with the slogan “Siyasat nahi, Riyasat bachao“. Qadri raised concerns over the prevalent electoral and political system. The long march back then didn’t last for long and within few days the negotiations between the government and Qadri turned out to be successful and the march ended peacefully. Qadri was ensured that his demands for the system reforms shall be taken care of. Though eventually, the promises were not fulfilled.
It is pertinent to note that at the time of the said long march, Qadri did invite PTI to join him in the march but the latter decided not to join Qadri. And later on, after the election 2013 was over, PTI admitted that Qadri’s demands were right and PTI should have shown solidarity with PAT back then.
This time again, Qadri has questioned the validity of the present government which has come into power as a result of the rigged elections. Furthermore, the diversion of his flight from Islamabad to Lahore and the Model Town incident (where some of his supporters were brutally murdered by the Punjab Police) led him to mobilize his supporters all over again for the ‘Green Revolution‘ in the country. Hence, Qadri decided to join the Azadi March of PTI towards Islamabad and named his march as ‘Inqilab March’.
The controversial role of Geo
During this entire period, Geo/Jang group’s role has been interesting and in fact quite dubious. Let’s look at the reason why Imran Khan asked Pakistanis to boycott the said media group. It is not only because Geo had launched a full-fledge campaign against PTI, but also because of the connections that kept unfolding between the present Pakistani government and Geo group. The very 1st speech Nawaz Sharif made as the Prime Minister of Pakistan even before the official declaration of the election 2013 results, it was broadcasted at Geo News. The interim government formed during the elections had Najam Sethi as the CM for Punjab who’s been linked with Geo group for quite some time. He was later appointed as the chairman Pakistan Cricket Board by PMLN government. PTI also claims to have certain proofs of how Sethi helped PMLN in execution of the rigging during the elections.
Besides, the prominent journalist of Jang group Irfan Siddiqui is presently the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Affairs and was also part of the dialogue committee which was formed for the peace talks with the TTP.
Geo News was the only news channel which was allowed to broadcast the ex-Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s farewell address in December 2013. It must be noted that Iftikhar Chuadhry was the serving Chief Justice at the time of the elections who is said to have appointed the Returning Officers. He is the same CJ who sued Imran Khan for merely using the word ‘sharmnaak’ (shameful) for him but failed to take any kind of action to provide justice to PTI’s cases filed against election riggings.
Unfortunately, Geo seems to be the most followed Pakistani news channel globally; a source which at times not only presents half the truth but also fabricates stories of critical nature. We have witnessed that already during the Mumbai attack and Hamid Mir episodes.
The Army’s Role
A lot is being said about Pak Army’s role behind instigating the current political chaos in the country. Politicians and a segment of the local and international media have been accusing the very defense institution of being the hidden power behind the turmoil. No one, so far has been able to prove it with facts. The only detailed revelations came from the PTI ex-president, Javed Hashmi that too only after Imran Khan parted ways with him. Javed Hashmi allegations about Imran Khan being backed by the army is quite questionable, more so after the secret meetings between PMLN and Javed Hashmi have been revealed.
PMLN seems to be fearful of army toppling its government and thus, all the parliamentarians literally had been spewing venom against the very institution one way or the other in their effort to support democracy in the country. To add to the controversy, Nawaz Sharif at first involved the Chief of Army Staff to facilitate in the political deadlock but later denied on the floor of the Parliament. ISPR had to clarify the position of Pak Army only because of the severe confusions created by the politicians several times.
The COAS has been repeatedly suggesting Nawaz Sharif in all the recent meetings to avoid use of force (of all kinds) and resolve the issues with the protesting parties by political means only. In such scenario, if the army really had to overthrow the Nawaz regime, it has had many chances to do so. Firstly on the day of crackdown when clashes took place between the police and protestors while the latter was marching towards the PM house. Secondly, the day when PTV headquarters (the state-television centre) was attacked by the mobs and the army eventually had to take control of the building.
The political scenario is quickly changing with every passing day though the end is not very obvious at the moment. We may have reservations over the way Imran Khan and Qadri chose to proceed with their demands, but a vast majority does accept that their demands are justified. Implementation of Article 62 & 63, electoral and social reforms, justice and eradication of corrupt system are all the things that Pakistan is desperately in need of at the moment.
All the parliamentarians who are demeaning these protests are actually those who worship the status quo for their own vested interests associated with the currently polluted political system which they are trying to protect under the umbrella of their version of democracy. The same parliamentarians have the audacity to label the protesters as terrorists merely because of the attack on PTV HQ which in itself is still not clear as to who was the mastermind of that attack. Because in the words of a PTV employee, the attackers already knew exactly which room to enter and which machine to damage to halt the transmission. Thus, it seems to be a pre-planned attack where the police deployed for the security was also absent at the time of the attack. The deplorable part is that even the international media has been portraying the protestors as violent mobs but pays lesser attention towards those more than 500 protestors who got injured as a result of state-ordered shelling.
As of today, Pakistan has a Prime Minister, who – as per the Model Town incident FIR – is a murderer and is also a liar who denied his role in dragging army into the current political chaos. The only thing which PMLN usually is seen to be feeling proud of is the development work it has done within the country. This claim itself is deemed invalid after the huge destruction caused due to the current torrential monsoon rains in none other than Sharif’s own hometown Lahore which he had promised to turn into Paris.
In these hard times, Pakistanis look forward to the end of this political crisis soon with the hope to have a fair and transparent system in place which can lead the country towards prosperity in the times to come.