Time For Politicians To Stop Calling Each Other 'Traitor'

Time For Politicians To Stop Calling Each Other 'Traitor'

Undoubtedly, the DG ISPR’s latest press conference has dealt a devastating blow to former prime minister Imran Khan. 

Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar said the security apparatus does not agree with Khan’s claims of a threat to the national security from a foreign power. He added that the National Security Committee did not discuss a ‘foreign conspiracy’ aimed at regime change in Pakistan. He refuted Khan’s assertion that nuclear assets are unsafe under the Sharif government – “No, our nuclear assets are safe”. He also negated Khan’s claim that the military leaders had approached him and offered to help find a solution to the political deadlock – “It is unfortunate that our political leadership was not ready to talk”. 

The explanations presented at the press conference by the DG ISPR show that state has decided to demonise the ousted PM. This apprehension is not without basis: Almost as a regular pattern, governments are sacked through unfair means, and its leaders are accused of corruption, treason and immorality -- to demonise them. Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari and others have been targets of such evil campaigns.

But such campaigns have never worked in the democratic history of Pakistan. They have limit chances of fair play for politicians contesting elections and have made the state an active party in politics of the country -- thus undermining its neutrality. Only five years ago, before the 2018 general elections, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted allegedly by the state machinery, including judiciary and intelligence services. Supposedly, senior officials were instrumental in ensuring Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz remained behind bars till the polling day. He was alienated from politics in Pakistan.

Short-tempered and inexperience Imran Khan is likely to meet the same fate in the next general elections. He probably knows his fate better than others. His threats and tantrums were for some reason. Sheikh Rashid knows him well too; for he said, “He [Imran Khan] would be more dangerous on the streets”. 

Acrimonious atmosphere that prevails in Pakistan will aggravate if Khan is alienated. It will prove to be a death knell for parliamentary democracy. If accusations of being bribed by the foreign power and abrogating the constitution are not curbed, the democratic system will falter even more. The politicians must give each other a chance to survive in politics. 

Parliamentary democracy is a system where opponents are transitory, majority and minority short-lived -- and where the government and the opposition change sides on the floor of the house. So, if we want to avoid a dangerous accident, we must pull back from the brink, the two sides must realize that demonising each other will not solve problems of the country.

The writer is a journalist based in Islamabad.