The Struggle For Power

The Struggle For Power
The Supreme Court's contentious ruling to schedule elections on May 14th has had far-reaching consequences in the political landscape. Even though the Supreme Court later softened its stance and encouraged political parties to negotiate and resolve the deadlock, the initial decision and its subsequent non-implementation not only challenged the Court's authority, but also served as a catalyst for a larger crisis. The election did not take place, a review petition was filed, and, significantly, a new law was enacted to broaden the scope of review petitions, resulting in the indefinite postponement of the hearing on this matter.

Conversely, since the judgment was issued, instead of focusing on the merits of the judgment, the public discourse has devolved into a trivial argument about the numerical composition of the minority (3-4) and majority (4-3) judgment. The constant repetition of these numbers within echo chambers has transformed them into a revealing prism through which we can analyze and gain insight into the current sorry state of affairs.

The recent political crisis in Pakistan has brought the dynamics of power into sharp focus. In this ruthless political environment, the pursuit of compromise and negotiations has been overshadowed by inflated egos and a relentless hunger for power. Initially, there was hope that a general election would be held in May or October. However, that hope was dashed on May 9. In a country where the establishment has exerted influence since its inception, challenging the status quo is an act few dare to undertake. Hence, the prospect of defiance leading to rage was not anticipated. On May 9, we followed a simple chain of events: a mob unleashed its fury, provoking a powerful stakeholder to strike back, and ultimately pushing a tiger back into a corner.

Historically, the power dynamics in Pakistan have consistently been shaped by five stakeholders: the establishment, judiciary, a king’s party, the media, and the public. However, with the emergence of Generation Z, equipped with digital tools and unrestricted access to a wealth of information (or misinformation), a paradigm shift has occurred. The rise of social media is a formidable force in the country’s politics, and by most measures now counts as a sixth stakeholder. Enter Khan, who uses this phenomenon to his advantage almost masterfully, seizes the opportunity and manages to position himself as a worthy challenger to the establishment by early 2023, thereby expanding the stakeholders count to seven.

These seven influential actors now define the present and future of Pakistan, regardless of personal opinions. However, each stakeholder is confronted with internal challenges: a divided judiciary, a wounded military establishment, a burdened public, an egoistic Khan, controlled media, and relentlessly chaotic social media. Their positioning not only shapes the current state of affairs, but also determines the country's future direction and provides insights into power distribution, adding another layer of complexity to an already chaotic situation.

The public, being the weakest of the stakeholders, holds little sway, yet it clearly favors Khan. Following closely is Khan himself, commanding influence and charisma through his devoted following. Additionally, social media displays a clear bias towards Khan, solidifying their formidable alliance.

On the other hand, the military establishment actively seeks to remove Khan from the equation, resisting any transfer or sharing of power. The King’s party appears easily swayed, requiring no coercion, while the electronic media has never posed a problem for the establishment. Consequently, the military establishment, King’s party and electronic media align against Khan, resulting in a dominant anti-IK rhetoric.

With an equal 3-3 split, their uncompromising positions have left both sides in a stalemate, teetering on the delicate balance of power. Thus, the judiciary emerges as the seventh pawn on this chessboard, with the potential to checkmate.

However, the judiciary exacerbates the situation by oscillating between both sides, thereby hindering efforts to foster harmony and uphold the Constitution. While it may engage in overt displays of favoritism for Khan, it occasionally leans towards the opposing forces, bolstering the political aspirations of both sides.

Currently, as anti-Khan sentiment gains momentum, the scale seems to tilt towards a 3-4 configuration in favor of the establishment camp. However, the situation remains highly volatile, with power dynamics shifting rapidly between these two factions. This persistent vacillation has trapped Pakistan in a state of turmoil, with no clear path forward. Economic factors, such as restructuring and the lack of support from donors or lenders, further compound the challenges faced by the rulers, leaving the future deeply mired in uncertainty.

The crucial question arises: who wields ultimate power to rebalance the scales? Shouldn't it be the public, despite being the least influential stakeholder within our system and often overlooked? Unless the public is empowered to express their preferences and shape the nation's direction, decision-making will continue to be heavily influenced by the remaining six stakeholders vying for power.

Until that moment arrives, the question of whether a 3-4 or 4-3 outcome will prevail becomes irrelevant, as the ultimate result remains the same - chaos unfolding.