Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Battle lines are drawn

January 11, 2012

By Saeed Qureshi

So the battle lines are visibly drawn on Pakistan’s volatile political battlefield. The Prime Minister Gilani and the president of Pakistan and the co-chairperson of the majority party Pakistan People’s Party Asif Ali Zardari have, of late, come out with a studied posture of defiance against the Pakistan Army’s top brass and the supreme court of Pakistan headed by the inimitable chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

The Supreme Court has been coming down with a justifiably heavy hand on the questionable doings and wrong policies of the government with decisions that would be treated as land mark in the judicial history of not only Pakistan but that of the world. The NRO, the Swiss bank cases, the so called Memogate are some of those gubernatorial cases that have defiantly braced the sitting government against the superior judiciary.

The most bizarre and frightening dimension is the trading of recriminations between the army and the ruling leadership. The latest ISPR’s press release is loaded with a veiled warning and gives inkling as to how the army is readying itself to move if there could be a possibility of a takeover, though for holding premature elections. The Diaspora of political parties that are aligned with the government or opposed to it, are coming out with diverse statements either in favor of the government or else in support of the army and judiciary.

Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan has resoundingly declared to stand by the Supreme Court. The PMNL seized by the paranoia of military takeover is, still reticent as what could be the best posture in the heat of this confrontation, Jamaat-e- Islami Chief Munawwar Hasan has virulently lashed out at the government and true to their past records would support the army.

While the PMNL would not want a military takeover, it would prefer to bank upon a constitutional strategy in order to bring about a parliamentary coup that could dislodge the government and force it to resign and announce new elections. The government is waiting for the senate elections to take place so that it could muster and generate enough strength to be able to withstand and foil a probable impeachment movement against the president of Pakistan if the imbroglio proceeds that long.

If the government can announce snap elections, the dark clouds that are hovering over its fate might be scattered for the time being. But still the NRO verdict would have to be complied with by any interim or the present government, whatever the case might be.

Equally would be the urgency and inevitability of fulfilling the judicial order for withdrawing the letter about the withdrawal of the Swiss cases and writing another one asking the Swiss courts to reopen the money scam cases of Asif Zardari.

The Memogate case that popped up from nowhere and has assumed as astounding dimensions will have to be driven to its logical conclusion. When the case would further proceed in judicial hearing and crystallize following the evidence of the main character Mansoor Ijaz, the court might be able to determine what could be the truth. In that case Hussain Haqqani and president Zardari would face dire consequences.

The major players in Pakistan’s spectrum: the army, the government and judiciary are now openly adopting confrontational and mutual despising postures to bring home the sordid fact that democratic set up has been thoroughly shaken and thrown overboard for which the government is primarily responsible due to ducking and dithering on judicial verdicts. The political parties and the parliamentarians have yet to come into the main tussle as to what roles they would play in the final countdown.

But the government has been in trouble and its credibility had remained at stake when president Zardari reneged on the commitments and the common goals outlined and agreed upon in various memorandums of understanding, one of which was ‘Charter of Democracy’ jointly signed by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif on May 14, 2006 in London. The other was the so called Murree Declaration inked by Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari in March 2008 for coalition government and restoration of judiciary.

Had the stipulations of the charters been allowed to be translated into meaningful and concrete follow up actions, the coalition of both the leading political parties would have been at the helm and consolidating the democratic edifice.But Mr. Zardari in a stunning demonstration of defiance and volte face broke those well defined goals and wriggled out by pleading that such papers or the accords were neither binding nor sacred like scriptures.

Thereafter, the PPP has been soliciting support from the fringe parties notably the ANP and the MQM to remain in power. The JUI walked out of the cobweb but in its place the PML (Q) was taken on board. The joining of the PML (Q) was patently an abject scratching of each other’s back.

The PPP wanted an ally to keep its parliamentary majority intact while the Chaudhry clan desperately needed their scion Moonis Ilahi to be let off the hook of a stupendous money making scam. Interestingly both parties previously, were the bitterest foes demeaning each other by using the vilest expletives.

So what one sows reaps the same. What goes around comes around are idioms that are hackneyed but robustly portray the sleazy demeanors of the political leaders that denude themselves in matters of serving their petty interests. They override the supreme national interests and sacrifice, the dignity, principles and morality they are expected to hold fast.

By antagonizing the leading institutions and also tormenting the civil society as well as the people of Pakistan through unsurpassed and bad governance, the government seems to be groping into a dark tunnel and has lost its rudder of legitimacy and as friends and genuine servants of the people. As far their bid to get a label of political martyrdom; that could have been possible if the government’s record were clean and its performance above board, commendable and a model of good and honest governance.

I am afraid in case of the government going down, whether by its own volition or elbowed out by the army or via a countrywide street agitation, the ministers and its top leaders will have to face a storm of legal cases to be instituted by the people and civil society members or by suo moto actions of the courts.

Already The Don Quixote of PPP and tongue lashing lancer Babar Awan is in deep trouble for his unwarranted attempt of ridiculing the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court cannot stomach the disgrace hurled at it by a minion of the government who not long ago was the law minister of the predictably tottering incumbent government.

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