Brainstorming Ways Out Of A Political Crisis

Brainstorming Ways Out Of A Political Crisis
During the past 75 years of its existence, Pakistan has had a fair share of trials and tribulations, some natural and some manmade. The country has survived the loss of East Pakistan, two major wars, many border skirmishes, floods, earthquakes and a spate of terrorist attacks. From all trials and tests, the country has managed to bounce back and continue its journey forward showing a significant resilience and self-confidence. Throughout history, we have heard that the country is faced with the “greatest” threat and is now at a crossroads, but this time the situation is definitely dire, dangerous and ugly – because we have never been faced with such a predicament that is multifaceted combining political social and economic crises of a monumental scale.

In the holy month of Ramzan, as the nation prepares to celebrate the joyous festival of Eid, the country is mired deep in a constitutional and economic crisis of frightening proportions with no end in sight. Sky high inflation, rising prices and the horrors of unemployment have dampened the Eid festivities, with most markets devoid of shoppers when most of the people are struggling to provide two square meals to their families. The purchasing power of the common people has hit rock bottom while the political elite and the powerful establishment are just too busy in the deadly game of power politics and safeguarding their own selfish interests and assets and the nation of 220 million is faced with a life and death struggles. This appears to be the proverbial scene of Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns. The entire nation awaits with bated breath, wondering as to what comes next. Political leaders, judges of the Supreme Court and the security establishment are all silent about the possible outcome of the present crisis. It can only be speculated or guessed as to the possible outcome of the greatest crisis faced by the country and one can only pray and hope for the best possible outcome in the shape of the following miracles taking shape.

First of all, the wise captains of the political elite across the board could wake up to the grave dangers facing the country and if the establishment could use its influence and clout to force them to sit together and find a solution to the impasse. The Supreme Court too could play its part and let a conference take shape where all the stake holders could come to an agreement about the date of the general elections at the federal level and in all four provinces. A caretaker government should ensure fair and free elections and the subsequent transition of power to the elected representatives of the people. All participants in the elections should gracefully accept the results of the elections. Such a situation appears to be a pipe dream because the political divide is too wide, and our political leaders consider each other enemies and not just political opponents. The entire political landscape is totally polarised.

Another possibility could be the role of the Supreme Court. This could work only if the wise and enlightened lordships of the court could put their foot down and force the PDM government to hold elections in Punjab and KP as desired by the PTI before the federal elections later in the year. It appears as if the establishment, too, does not want elections in two provinces only, and appears to be tilting towards the PDM government. Going by public opinion, it appears that the PTI will win by a large margin in Punjab and KP also. Winning the provincial elections by the PTI will result in more chaos and confusion. Imran Khan is now a cult figure and has a huge following of fanatics who are prepared to go to any length to get their hero back in the driving seat. Imran Khan with control of the Punjab province will pose a grave threat and danger to the party in control of the federal government, resulting in more bitterness chaos and confusion all around.

Yet another scenario could be one of PTI forming a government in Punjab and KP, and then elections are held at the federal level. This scenario will definitely result in violence and bloodshed. Irrespective of what the actual results are, no party is likely to accept the results. The most likely scene could be a repeat of the 1977 elections with ZA Bhutto and the PPP of that era facing the combined opposition parties – and we are all well aware of the horrible outcome of that scenario. In the present situation, with so much hatred and polarisation, elections will not result in any political stability, but chances are that the situation will turn uglier. According to all reports by the World Bank and the IMF, economic conditions are rather bleak for the current year and also for the next year.

No matter who forms the next government, they will be faced with the uphill task of providing economic relief to the people. A new government, even with a two-thirds majority, will need a miracle to deliver according to their election promises.

Western democracies or countries such as the UK, France, USA, Canada and Australia are relatively flourishing and prosperous because they have invested in human development, separated state and religion, promoted the rule of law and safeguarded the interests of the common people. The political elite and establishment of Pakistan will have to work hard to create a just and fair society that enables the full and active participation of all citizens irrespective of caste, colour or creed. A system which offers benefits only for the elite will have to be dismantled and the rights of the common people respected.