Pakistan Political Crisis: who lost and who won ?
By Zaheerul Hassan
Prevailing political stalemate in the country with agitators of both Pakistan Tehrik-e- Insaaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) observing sit-in at capital city of Islamabad, blocking sensitive Red Zone and threatening vital Govt buildings, have negatively impacted the entire nation causing fretful anxiety for all segments of society.
In fact, politicians have failed to resolve ongoing political crises, once again ruling elite asked Pakistan Army to intervene and facilitate in settling issues between Pakistan Muslim League PML (N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehrik-e- Insaaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT). Interestingly, the said parties and many other political parties at the start of their names proudly use word “Pakistan” and claim that after coming in power would toil for the development of the country and welfare of general public despite getting chance of ruling the country .
Unfortunately, politicians ruling elite was unable to resolve the deadlock in the negotiations, which resulted into aggressive violence in the capital. On 1st September morning the violent protesters of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek stormed the Pakistan Television headquarters in Islamabad. They occupied PTV World at 11:14 am, while broadcasts of PTV News blacked out at 11:25 a.m. when Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif was on-air.
However, army managed to evacuate reached the protestors from the building. Anyhow, across the world, the hostage of PTV building by the mob conveyed very negative message about the security of important installations. Although PTI and PAT chiefs denied the involvement of their workers in attacking the states’ building attack but facts revealed were against their proclamations. Anyhow both the leaders have strongly condemned the occupation of State Broadcasting institution.
On 31 August 2014 the shameful stage has been set by the protesters and ruling elite when crackdown against agitators wearing masks and carrying sticks, patrol bombs moved for hitting parliament building, cabinet division building and Prime Minister House Anyhow violence started when crowed of both the parties started moving towards important government buildings. During this agitation three individuals killed, 320 people injured and more than 75 people also sustained injuries. The police also thrashed media personnel who were busy in covering the riots.
The demonstrations would have been avoided but the Government (Govt) through its slow strategy could not grab the initiative to settle the issue through peaceful dialogue. On the other hand emotional speeches of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri coupled with digging graves; showing coffin-cloth and Imran Khan’s hard stance on getting resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, point at continuity of deadlock and impending perils of violence. Govt wasted vital time to address the rigging grievances of PTI, coldness and insensitivity to register FIR against concerned people responsible for killing in Model Town, Lahore.
Meanwhile, an unusual Corp Commanders’ Conference to review the ongoing political crises was chaired by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif on 31 August 2014. The conference continued for more than three and half hours in which participants objectively deliberated the political and security repercussions of the ongoing crisis in the county. Another clarification has also been issued with regards to Hasmi’s allegations and criticism on army and ISI. In this connection two separate press releases have been issued in which Army denied any kind of involvement in the ongoing political crises. From conference, we can make out that Army and ISI are impartial and nothing to do with the ongoing political confrontation. However, like other citizens, patriotic people might be interested that a politician should resolve the issue in the best interest of the country.
Recent failure of dialogue, Govt’s decision to use force against the protesters and resultant killings in Islamabad has further spoiled the situation. Mediating role of Army was acrimoniously politicized which brought embarrassment for Army high command and caused delay in resolution of crisis. Some media analysts and political leaders tend to show their loyalties to top political leadership by mentioning about the possibility of military take over and they do not hesitate in insinuating against Army for its hidden role in present crisis. Such elements have an agenda to spoil civil-military relations. Army never sent any message to Imran Khan through Sheikh Rashid to join PAT leadership for marching towards PM House. In fact, the entire episode of Javed Hashmi blame game reflects that he must be feeling alienated in PTI as perhaps competitors like Shah Mehmood Qureshi are getting encouraged by Imran Khan.
As PTI and PAT decided to demonstrate before the PM House, Javed Hashmi parted ways with PTI and asserted that Imran Khan was prompted by Sheikh Rashid to march towards PM House along with PAT. Javed Hashmi’s sensitivity towards Establishment is one thing but veiled pointing towards Army for having conveyed a message through Sheikh Rashid is a cynical thought and a jaundiced view point. It is an ugly attempt to spoil civil-military relations in the country. Army maintains a totally neutral and entirely apolitical stance. It is, however, deeply concerned on prevailing political turmoil. ISPR press release clearly expressed Army’s pro-democratic stance, asking the Govt to resolve the crisis through political dialogue and avoid violence and use of force.
Govt must take the initiative using comprehensive strategy and visionary approach to resolve the issue without using force and avoiding violence. The situation presents serious challenges to the political leadership who must find a political solution with open mind and selfless dexterity.
We must know that external elements are keenly studying the developments taking place in Pakistan and are preparing wicked schemes to damage Pakistan’s interests. Having cancelled scheduled secretary-level talks with Pakistan, Premier Modi asserted that Pakistan was too weak to fight a conventional war, ceasefire violations along LOC and least mentioning about Indian desire to conduct business and trade with Pakistan, indicate enemy intentions. Hence, there is a dire need to end the political impasses and learn how to hold our own Army in high esteem.
For long term solution, the few lines shared with me by one of my friend, Abdul Kundi, former President Pakistan Chamber of Commerce-USA & former member PTI Advisory Committee. These suggestions are closer to my thoughts and thus are being shared for decision makers to decide: the political and military leadership has to take certain steps in resolving the current crises like: military has already declared that they do not favour any person of party and will remain firmly standing behind the constitution and State irrespective of government since constitution and State are permanent.
PTI five points formula less Prime Minister’s resignation will help the political institutions evolve and deal should be signed in which all opposition parties and judiciary should become the guarantor.
Local government elections must be held as per the verdict of the Supreme Court. If these elections are held as per reformed system it will help test it.
PTI MNAs should withdraw their resignations and serve as a creditable opposition. Moreover, if judicial commission finds creditable evidence that there were gross irregularities in the general elections then new elections should be held. A parliamentary resolution should be passed defining red lines for parliamentarians and their rights of street protests. Rights of citizens to protest are different from rights of parliamentarians to protest. We must make this difference clear and binding on parliamentarians. In short, the awareness has been created amongst the masses about irregularities in the electoral system and definitely will help in refinement of Pakistani democratic system. Thus, the ongoing political crises where it has brought miseries, there it would also definitely a new dawn for Pakistan. Therefore readers themselves decide who won and who lost in the current political crises of 2014.
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