Political Projects

The ongoing political polarization and consequent chaos have deepened the debate around the making of political parties through patronage and their falling out from favor.

Political Projects

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves that we are underlings."

Time and again the political parties and political bigwigs have offered their shoulders to carry canons to be fired against the parliament and civilian supremacy. Only the degree of stooping so low varies when it comes to directly or indirectly facilitating the movers and shakers to sting the parliamentary democracy. 

The ongoing political polarization and consequent chaos have deepened the debate around the making of political parties through patronage and their falling out from favor ultimately unleashing a political divide that is far from being over. The logical question that arises is: who made these monsters? The answer is the political projects that were carved out by those pulling the strings behind the scenes in this pure land.

For decades ethnic politics in Karachi gained ground under the watchful eyes of the powers that be. Emboldened with the unprecedented support by the state apparatus, the sector commanders hijacked the city of lights called Karachi with impunity. 

Within minutes, chaos was injected into the veins of Karachi with streets flowing with human blood. The commercial hub of the country was left at the mercy of callous killers. The provincial government stood paralyzed once the dogs of unrest were let loose in the capital. The politics of fear concentrated political constituency in the hands of MQM in urban areas especially that of Karachi and Hyderabad. 

Karachi was synonymous with terror, arson and lawlessness. The reign of terror thus undermined the political process and governance in the province. The powerful backers of this political project discovered to their discomfort that the unprecedented support given to the political actors in question transformed them into Frankenstein Monsters.

The decisive moment came-now or never in terms of spearheading a strategy to tame the fascists wearing political clothes. Within minutes, the offices of political parties that triggered guns were raided with ammunition confiscated. With the confiscation of arms, the arms of Karachi were un-tied. Finally, normalcy returned to the city, but the residents paid a heavy price in terms of death and destruction.

Seeing seething fury against the status quo, the IJI was institutionalized as a barrier to PPP's ascendancy to power. For decades, PML N supremo was the ladila and bullied his political opponents through judiciary and media management. The political process was undermined as PML N and the Pakistan Peoples Party were pitched against each other. This petty politics in the 1990s left civilian setups highly vulnerable as a result of which the governments formed by PPP and PML N could not finish their respective tenures. 

The other factors that fomented fragile government were preoccupation with witch- hunting alleged graft and greed, bad governance, and ineffective administration. Then in 1999, the then Chief of the Army Staff General Pervex Musharraf's desire for dominance culminated in imposing martial law in the country subsequently sending the ousted PM Nawaz Sharif behind the bars in infamous plane hijacking case. Scorched-earth response against mainstream political parties and subsequent political engineering paved the way for political opportunists and turncoats. 

The PML Q kept swelling with turncoats ultimately ushering in the Pervez Musharraf regime with PM Shaukat Aziz in the saddle of a so-called civilian set-up comprising compromising politicians heeled with the carrot-and-stick policy . 

The mainstream political parties the PML N and PPP bore the brunt of the repressive regime with leaderships languishing banished and exiled life in Saudi Arabia and Dubai respectively. The antagonism  concerning the two parties in question convinced their leaderships to carve out a common ground to fight against all odds together. While living life in banishment and exile, Nawaz Shari and Benazir Bhutto learned lessons. 

As a result, after having buried mutual political acrimony, in 2006 the Charter of Democracy (CoD) was signed between the PPP and PML-N under which they had vowed that none of them would solicit the support of the military to come to power or to dislodge a democratic government. However,  it did not last long as power-hungry PML N supremo -Nawaz Sharif, on the heels of the Memogate, played petty political role to weaken the government. The Chaudhry Iftikhar Court also offered its shoulders to place ammunition on and target the civilian set-up. The beleaguered PM Gilani was sent home packing following contempt of Chaudhry Court for not writing a letter to Swiss authorities against the then President Asif Ali Zardari. Despite this, the PPP-led government completed its tenure.

In 2013, the PML got the mandate and formed the federal government. The two parties -PML N and the PPP showing maturity decided in principles to let the government complete its tenure. Panamagate rattled various governments across the globe. The then PM Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the SC. The replacement-Shahid Khaqan Abbasi completed the remaining tenure. In 2018,level playing field  was abysmal. 

Life-threatening circumstances were created against bigwigs of mainstream political parties-PPP and PML-N  ultimately reducing their election campaign.

The project called PTI was projected to paint other politicians as thieves and dacoits.

Certain media houses and anchors advanced this project. After having formed a coalition government by cobbling together small parties, IK led -government continued to witch-hunt and target its political adversaries with pick-and-choose accountability. 

Finding rare institutional support on the left and right, its ego inflated with every passing day ultimately undermining its administrative and economic governance. The PTI-led government was synonymous with incompetence, self-righteousness, and utopian dreams. 

The government failed miserably on all fronts. Realizing shifting winds in terms of diminishing institutional support, the opposition parties hammered out a constitutional plan called a no-confidence move to remove the PTI-led government. It was successful. 

After the success of the no-confidence move against the PTI government, the ousted PM Imran Khan got two provincial assemblies dissolved to satisfy his political arrogance and subsequently sabotage the PDM-led government. While constituting benches with like-minded judges the Bandiyal Court allegedly left no stone unturned to facilitate PTI.It drew unprecedented backlash from the independent minds. This typifies a streak of stubbornness "lf I cannot play, I will not let anyone else play."

Someone should whisper into IK's ears that the opposition and the treasury benches are the two wheels of a democratic political framework. 

Even more, the PTI leadership played on the emotions of party supporters on the Cypher saga that incited its vote base to grill and heckle political opponents in public spaces hurling inflammatory utterances like the conspirators and thieves. Various cases of scuffling were reported in the national media -not mention the ugly episode heckling and chanting slogans at PM Shabaz Sharif and his entourage at the Masijid-e-Nabvi at Medina in 2022. PTI specializes in lies, noise, and propaganda. 

Its key-board warriors keep proliferating political hate and fascist agenda. It recently descended to a new low with pilling allegations of blasphemy against the sitting CJP Kazi Faez Issa. As if the political extremism projected by the project called PTI was not enough to burn the political process in the country. This fascism will tear the social and political fabric apart because PTI followers can't separate the wheat from the chaff. This has been the case over the years which is a product of a cult following. It would not be an exaggeration to infer that except for the PPP, all parties have used religious cards. But with the PTI it has hit the lowest of the low. 

Business and economy journalist Dawn columnist Khurram Hussain  convincingly tweeted that" Fascist credentials of PTI now in full view as one after another party leader lines up to join the campaign to weaponize blasphemy allegations against an SC judge who has just delivered justice under very difficult conditions." To insulate in every context, other political parties need digital skills and teams to confront cooked stories, contemptuous content, and fascist fury directed against political opponents and independent minds. Otherwise, they will be obscured in the years to come.

The PTI leader's letter to the the International Monetary Fund(IMF) urged it to not give much-needed funds to the Shahbaz Sharif-led coalition government drew national and international outrage. South Asian political expert  Michael Kugelman minced no words and said, “Such a letter would be disregarded and have no value, but what a terrible idea. Pakistan badly needs a new loan. Not getting one could be catastrophic for the country." 

The book Making Federation Work -Federalism in Pakistan After the 18th Amendment edited by Asma Faiz intelligently inferred that "Pakistan is at present facing severe financial, security, and political challenges. Certain positive developments have taken place.  The first-ever democratic transfer of power between civilian governments happened with the formation of the Nawaz Sharif-led PML-N government in the center replacing the PPP government (2008-13). Unfortunately, the dream of political stability still eludes Pakistan as Imran Khan's PTI and Tahir-ul Qadri's Pakistan Awami Tehreek have engaged in agitation politics threatening to bring down the entire democratic system". 

Nothing has changed yet. PTI's political credentials today are as problematic as they were yesterday. Creating high moral ground just to canvass electoral outcomes is seen in the political sphere as an impractical approach all over the world. It brought PTI to the point of no return in terms of sitting with other political forces. This inflexibility is an undemocratic norm . The result is that PTI is willing to partner with religious outfits like the Sunni Itehad Council ( SIC), and that of Jamaet e-Ulmai Islam (JUI-F). 

Morally and constitutionally speaking, after one's ascendancy to the presidency, one is supposed to act independently and constitutionally when it comes to discharging day-to-day affairs. One is dismayed that the sitting President Arif Alvi has consistently toed the party line. Earlier, he refused to administer the oath to PM Shahbawz Sharif who ascended to the throne on the heels of a -confidence move against the then PM Imran Khan. 

Recently, he sent back the summary calling for a convention of the newly elected assembly over the lingering issue of reserved seats of PTI. After having received condemnation from legal eagles and political bigwigs, he caved in. One is afraid the presidecy  under Arif Alvi will be known in history as that of the PTI President rather than the state of Pakistan. Before the ouster of the then PM Imran Khan, the presidency was remote-controlled.                                

Parliamentary democracy in Pakistan has ceased to exist as a pro-people political framework since the political crop is not only dyed in the wool but also manipulative to the bone when it comes to formulating and implementing a self-serving economic agenda ie facilitating and feeding the oligarchy and cruel crony capitalists. The responsibility of empowering the parliament lies with the parliamentarians on both sides. 

Empowerment of parliament is no no-brainer. For decades, the floors of assemblies have been used to wash dirty linen and political point- scoring. Lawmaking is seen through the prism of party-line or narrow-mindedness. Only a handful of members of parliament rise above party politics and give the nod to lawmaking irrespective of party line. Thus the parliament was reduced to a rubber stamp by none other than the lawmakers entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring lawmaking and subsequent implementation.

All are naked in this bath called undermining parliament. Imagine members of parliament in the Punjab assembly chanted watch-thief slogans on the floor with pictures of Nawaz Sharif in their hands. Transforming the floor of the assembly into a fish market is nothing but political immaturity. People from all walks of life have condemned this contaminated political culture presided over by the newly elected provincial captain Maryum Nawaz.                                               

One of the tweets Ali Dar conveyed his concern in no uncertain words and tweeted "PML N never learns, this isn't a democratic behavior where in the world a winning party behaves like opposition and that also in the legislature? When will we ( Punjabis) learn? we have rejected true democratic @PPP_Org for too long. No difference between N league and PTI".

Political instability looms large across Pakistan. Miscalculating this prove to be suicidal for the party in power given a set of challenges lying ahead in terms of governance and dealing with political pressure in Punjab. KPK assembly witnessed the same contaminated environment.

And the National Assembly saw the same theatrics. Given the volatile nature of KPK CM Ali Amin Gandpuri, the administrative relationships between the central and provincial governments will remain thorny. Urban middle class continues to flirt with political romance calling it people's revolution and hence has aligned with cult politics. Cult politics survives in bad governance, corruption, perceived corruption, economic mismanagement, and entitlement, etc. Fixing these inherent issues will certainly fix cult politics. When elephants fight, it is the grass that gets crushed. The tsunami of inflation accompanied by back-breaking utility bills is snatching morsels from the mouths of the masses. 

Despite this, economic deprivation faced by impoverished sections of society, the rising cost of living, the rising wave of street crimes and polarised politics are not part of the political dialogue.  Power-sharing formulas by the coalition partners and sabotaging the coalition government by the opposition is part of the political game across the aisle. Until the separation of powers, empowerment of the parliament, national cohesion, institution building, and pro-people economic arrangement the very ideals of democracy will remain a pipedream. Ending the political projects should be the beginning of the end.

The writer is a freelance contributor. He may reached at nazeerarijo@gmail.com. Nazeer tweets at @nazeerarijo.