Mounting Political Temperature
So far it was intensely debated whether India or religious extremism cum terrorism was the existential threat to Pakistan’s security. It is now being said that the biggest threat is posed by the ruling coalition subservient to the wishes of Washington. In its near five-year tenure, the PPP led regime has left no stone unturned to destroy each and every institution of Pakistan and to bring bad name to democracy.
Gen Musharraf’s effort to promote secularism under the garb of enlightened moderation with the help of expanded TV network was further promoted by PPP led liberal parties after they assumed power in 2008. These efforts were reinforced by India and the west through Indo-western cultural invasion to promote obscenity and vulgarity with the help of foreign movies, X-rated CDs, NGOs. Propaganda war was launched on electronic and print media to undermine Islamic culture. The US and India financed TV channels and journalists to sell their themes and manipulate perceptions.
Madrassahs, mosques, religious scholars, ulemas and Islamists dubbed as extremists and terrorists were hit hard to undermine Islamic culture. All these efforts were made by Indo-US-Western-Jewish lobbies with the help of liberal groups within Pakistan to soften the glue of Islam which kept the federating units and the people of differing cultures united and to transform the complexion of Pakistan to secularism. These sustained efforts have made seculars and liberals in minority into ultra liberals, but Islamists which are in great majority have clung to their Islamic moorings and Islam is spreading rather than getting curtailed.
The US sustained efforts to disable our nuclear program or force Pakistan to roll it back and handover the manufactured bombs for safe custody elsewhere because of threat posed by the militants have been foiled because of the dogged determination of the armed forces. Pakistan military’s nuclear deterrence has not been compromised and its conventional capability is still strong and robust despite the decade old fatiguing war on terror. Our nuclear arsenal has been made secure through multi-layered security system meeting international standards. Pakistan’s nuclear and missile capabilities have an edge over Indian wherewithal and are constantly being upgraded to meet the Indian challenge.
Judiciary with a tainted past has got fully reinvigorated and it is asserting its independence resolutely. But for proactive judiciary, the country might have been sold off by now as was evident from memo case. Wrongdoers irrespective of their social status have been netted and the day is not far when each one would be punished. A sensational beginning was made when former PM Gilani was forced by Supreme Court (SC) to relinquish his charge.
Despite the fact that a segment of media has been bought by foreign powers, the media is playing an important role in highlighting the failings of the elites and ills of the society boldly. The stagnant civil society and the youth got energized during the lawyer movement and are now endeavoring to bring a healthy change in our decayed political system hinging on dynasties, Baradaries, power of wealth and the gun. Disillusioned people are abandoning the status quo lovers and flocking towards revisionists promising change.
The people have braved the hardships of power and gas outages, scarcity of food items, joblessness and pains of poverty and spate of suicide bombings/bomb blasts bravely. Financial hardships, poverty and insecurity have not lowered their spirits. In the depressed environment, Pakistan’s hockey team won Asian championship by flooring Indian team in the finals; our cricket team shared the trophy with India in T20s and won one-day series, both on India’s home ground. In the field of songs and music, Pakistani singer Nabeel won the Sur Kshetra competition.
The military has kept itself restrained from taking over. Gen Kayani has promised to support democracy and to help in conducting free and fair elections. Tehrik-e-Insaf (TI) has emerged as a third political force to challenge the monopoly of status quo loving two mainstream parties. Dr Tahirul Qadri (TUQ) has also stepped in with his electoral reform program when elections are close by to add fuel to the rising political temperature. His detractors are frantically trying to besmirch his image by calling him a Canadian working on someone else’s agenda.
Imran Khan sees the leaders of two mainstream parties as chips of the same block. His balloon of Tsunami to a large extent has been busted by TUQ, who has snatched the initiative from him. Imran could have gained politically had he stuck to his earlier inclination to participate in his long march. Opportunist MQM is supporting TUQ but must be ruing its decision of backing out from his long march. While MQM kept pressing the government to accept Qadri’s demands, it showed no penchant to resign from federal and Sindh governments. Altaf is facing scathing attacks of people of Pakistan on his imprudent utterances against Quaid-e-Azam.
Two-time tried out PML-N under Nawaz Sharif is dejected that its dream of wearing the crown is being sabotaged by TUQ. He managed to assemble together the whole lot of opposition parties less TI at Raiwind to uphold the old order and condemn TUQ seeking a change. The government wishing to retain status quo also supported the stance of opposition.
The ANP having lost many of its leaders and party activists at the hands of militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa want all political parties to get united and develop a consensus to take a decisive action against militancy. At the same time it has offered unconditional peace talks to TTP, which has been accepted provided it is not asked to surrender arms. Religious parties keep raising anti-US slogans, reactivation of Kashmir Jihad and implementation of constitution strictly in line with Quran and Sunnah, but conceptually all religious parties/group differ with each other.
The PPP regime smug on having reached the tail-end of its five-year tenure was looking forward for a smooth transition of power, or preferably to win again. It was suddenly confronted with multi-dimensional threats as if the events had been synchronized. On one hand, militants have stepped up their activities, and on the other Indian military have heated up the LoC. Drone strikes are continuing. MQM kicked up dust on the issue of delimitation of constituencies in Karachi. Zardari is pressured to relinquish one appointment.
Carnage in Quetta on January 10, forced the Hazara community in Quetta to sit-in for four days. They refused to bury 86 dead bodies till the Army took over. Men, women and children protested in freezing cold silently and neither resorted to violence nor uttered a word against Pakistan. Eventually, government was compelled to sack Aslam Raisani’s thoroughly corrupt, inept and insensitive government and impose Governor Rule for two months. Maulana Fazlur Rahman is however criticizing Governor Rule in Balochistan.
TUQ added to the woes of PPP by staging a massive sit-in in Islamabad. While he was in the process of building pressure on the government to accept his demands of electoral reforms and dissolution of election commission, the Supreme Court directive to Chairman NAB to arrest PM Raja Ashraf and others on account of their involvement in Rental Power Plant (RPP) corruption case made the assembled crowd at D Chowk ecstatic. Beleaguered regime succumbed to the deadline given by Qadri and hastened to strike a deal by accepting most demands. Timely action averted a crisis situation but has made the position of opposition parties awkward. Election Commission has come under added pressure to stop pre-poll rigging. Mysterious death of NAB official Kamran Faisal investigating RPP case has heightened pressure on the government. In anticipation to elections, jockeying as well as pre-poll rigging has started. As the political temperature is mounting, political horses are shifting to so-called greener pastures.
The writer is a retired Brig and a freelance columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org