Thursday, July 26, 2018

Which Political Party is likely to Win the 2018 General Elections in Pakistan!

July 21, 2018
By Saeed Qureshi
The 13th General Elections are being held in Pakistan on 25 July 2018 to elect the members of the National Assembly for 342 seats and four Provincial Assemblies of Pakistan. It is being speculated that this time also the PMNL would win the elections. The PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf) is believed to emerge as the runner up and second in the row.  
So far 12 general elections for federal government have been held in Pakistan. After the birth of the new state of Pakistan in 1947, The first two elections were held in 1954 and 1962 which were indirect elections. In 1958 no direct elections were held. The PPP and PMNL each won four times. The 10th elections held in 2002 were won by PML(Q) and not PMNL.
The 2018 elections would be contested for 342 seats of the National Assembly and any party scoring 172 seats would emerge as the majority party. The paramount question is which party would emerge as the majority party and form the government at the center this time?
In 2013 general elections, the PMNL won 166 seats and this time needs only 6 seats to emerge as the winner party. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won 42 seats last time and now needs 130 seats to win the 2018 elections. In 2013 elections, The PTI led by Imran Khan won 35 seats and therefore needs 137 seats to win the ongoing elections. 
While it looks pretty easy for the PMLN to add 6 seats more to her 2103 tally, it might be a tall order and rather unattainable goal for the PTI or the PPP to win 172 seats for obvious reasons. The PPP doesn’t enjoy a good reputation because of Asif Ali Zardari who has several stigmas attached to his profile, known in Pakistan and abroad as well. The Current Chairman of the party, Bilawal Zardari Bhutto is still very young and is not a seasoned leader as his late mother Benazir Bhutto was and his illustrious grandfather Z.A. Bhutto had been.
It is not possible for young and inexperienced Bilawal to come on top beating other contenders who are in the domain of politics for a pretty long time. As such it may run as the third winner after the PMNL and the PTI. The PTI may well attain more votes than it did in 2013 elections. However, it might not be possible for a relatively younger party to take lead and come as the winner to form the government.
There are two potent factors that may help and spur or pave way for the PMNL to win the 2018 General Elections and form the government even for the fourth time. One most glaring and the paramount factor is the legal battle based upon his alleged financial corruption charges, laced with a visible bias of the judiciary against him and his party. The lodging of Main Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Mariam Nawaz in jail at this stage as a blessing in disguise and could prove as a boosting development for his party to win the elections. It is a general opinion that the superior judiciary has been in league with the PTI and the political opponents of Mian Nawaz Sharif. The judiciary seems to be exercising the judicial clout and powers to sideline Mian Nawaz Sharif clan and create conditions for his downfall and longish absence from the political arena of Pakistan. 
But in politics what matters are the policies and achievements of the political parties. Nawaz Sharif may have been meddling in financial corruption and making stockpiles of wealth through foul and fair means. But to sideline him just prior to elections connotes to the people that the judicial activism was aimed at sidetracking him and make his party lose elections. It is being speculated that the path is being paved for PTI and its aggressive and anti-Nawaz chief Imran Khan to win the elections and assume power. It is being expected that when in power, Imran Khan would wash Pakistan off the rampant corruption and punish those hoarding wealth offshore and whose names have been mentioned in the Panama Papers.
Yet the judicial propensity for cleansing the political arena in Pakistan from corruption and foul play doesn’t give an impression that it was across the board. On the contrary it looks as if it was solely focused on Mian Nawaz Sharif, his party and the family.
As such the judicial onslaught is not serving its pristine objective. It is generating sympathy and support for Sharif family specifically and his party PMLN generally for being targets of both the judiciary and the PTI chief. Nawaz Sharif and his daughter are in the prison. Yet their party PMNL is potent to drive ahead and may score good number of seats as this party has been doing in the past.
Imran Khan could have won the elections if his attention and endeavors were not solely focused on maligning and condemning Nawaz Sharif and his other family members including his two sons. Had he launched a crusade against the moral and financial corruption and innumerable wrong doings in Pakistan and not against an individual or party, he would have swayed the people in his favor. But sorrowfully he built his political philosophy, mission and mandate exclusively riveted against Nawaz Sharif and his family which is a narrow agenda and looks like a personal enmity of Imran Khan with Nawaz Sharif and his family. Imran Khan would have prevailed had he raised a hue and cry and lashed out all the known corrupt individuals and families in Pakistan. He would have raised slogan of a new Pakistan with specific strategy across the board. Thus, his chances of winning the 2018 elections would have brightened and his victory would have been ensured.
Secondly, he should have used civilized language and convincing demagogy with logic, poise and dignified pastures. The example of such civilized and dignified behavior could be taken from the conduct of the founder of Pakistan; Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Mr. Jinnah seldom used indecent adages or filthy expression against anyone during his political crusade for creation of the Republic of Pakistan. Its is not the bravado, abuses and blames that are helpful in political battles. Instead, the elections contenders ought to lay out a clear agenda and road map for rebuilding Pakistan and strengthening nation building institutions. Imran Khan’s aggressive foul-mouthing was zeroed in on Nawaz Sharif, his party and family, thus exhibiting a kind of personal bias and enmity.
Imran Khan is aggressive by temperament. He needs to scale down his exuberance, the level of lethal ridicule and compelling tendency to take thing for granted. He would have a brighter chance to win the next general elections in Pakistan, if such a fundamental and positive transformation comes about in his behavior, personality and outpourings. But by that time much water would have flowed down the rivers. However, in the meantime and till the next general elections, he can play a very productive and vigorous role as the leader of the opposition. That would be possible if PPP doesn’t emerge as the runner up party or majority opposition party in the July 25 elections in Pakistan.

None of the Fifteen Prime Ministers of Pakistan Completed Five Years’ Term

July 16,2018

By Saeed Qureshi

Recently one of my email interlocutors Mr. Shuja-ur-Rahman Khan sent me an interesting and revealing email. This email recapitulates the democratic and constitutional setback of the past 71 years of Pakistan existence as an independent state.

In Pakistan, the political culture based upon universal democratic system has remained unfulfilled, wholly or partially. There has been emphasis and even efforts on making Pakistan a theocratic state by the religious right and religious parties and groups. That is why Pakistan nomenclature was changed from to Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Let us go through the time tunnel since 1947 until the present period. The former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were arrested in Lahore on July 13 on their arrival from London after an accountability court found them guilty over his family's ownership of four luxury flats in London. The case is known as “Avenfield properties corruption reference”.  Nawaz Sharif was first disqualified from holding the portfolio of the prime minister by a superior court. Later he was sentenced by the accountability Court 11 years jail term along with his daughter Mariam Nawaz who is punished with 8 years in jail. They are already lodged in Rawalpindi Adiala jail.

Since Pakistan’ birth as new state in 1947 until this year (2018), there have been a total of 10 governments and 15 prime ministers in Pakistan. Out of these ten governments there were three military regimes. It should sound unbelievable to many of my readers that all the prime ministers couldn’t complete their constitutional tenure of five years in office.

The first government was in place from 1958 to 1971, the second from 1977 to 1988, the third from 1999 to 2008. The last and the 10th government including both the civilian and military phase was in place from 2008 to 2018. During the last phase, the PPP remained in power from 2008 to 2013. It was followed by PMNL (Pakistan Muslim league Nawaz) government whose tenure continued from June 2013 – July 2017 with Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister. Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the supreme court and is now in jail along with his daughter. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi replaced Nawaz Sharif and was in office from 1 August 2017 – 31 May 2018. Abbasi was succeeded by Nasirul Mulk as caretaker prime minister to oversee the general elections to be held this year on July 25.

Out of a total period of Pakistan’s existence for 71 years the share of army rule was for 23 years. Field Marshall Ayub Khan from 1958 to 1969, General Yahya Khan from March 1969 to Dec 1971 and the third phase was of general Ziaul Haq that remained in vogue from Sept. 1978 to August 1988.

 As a result of people’s agitation spearheaded by Zulfikar ali Bhutto, president Ayub Khan handed over the power to General Yahya Khan who remained in power saddle from March 1969 to December 1971. It was during his tenure that as a result of a civil war (March 1971-decmber 1971) the Eastern wing of Pakistan separated from West Pakistan. The third phase of military government was headed by general Ziaul Haq being both president and martial law administrator for 11 years (sept 1878 -August 1988).

Pakistan has been beset and rather afflicted by serious crises from toppling the civilian government, the palace intrigues for attainment of power through backdoors and unconstitutional shortcuts one of which was the establishment of military rule.

In comparison the kind of political anarchy has been almost non-existent or rare both in India and the formerly East Pakistan, separated from the Federation of Pakistan in March 1971 under the nomenclature pf Bangladesh.

The first prime minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan (1947-1951) was assassinated in Rawalpindi on October 16, 1951.The second prime minister Khaja Nazimuddin (1951-1953) was removed, the third prime minister Chaudhry Muhammad Ali (1955-1956) resigned. Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy (1956-1957) resigned. He was followed by A. R. Chundrigar (1957-1957) who also resigned from his office. The came Firoz Khan Noon (1957-1958) whose government was toppled. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto remained the prime minister from 1973 to 1977. He was not only toppled but hanged by his military successor General Ziaul Haq. Muhammad Khan Junejo was the eighth prime minister (1985-1988). On 29 May 1988, Prime Minister Junejo was dismissed by President Zia.  

The last two political phases are one by Benazir Bhutto who ruled from 1988 to 1990 and for the second time in 1993-1996. She was assassinated in Rawalpindi after addressing a public meeting. Prime minister Zafarullah Jamali was at the helm between 2000-2004 and was forced to resign. Yusuf Raza Gillani served as the prime minister from 2008 to 2012. He fell prey to a judicial disqualification.

Mian Nawaz Sharif had three stints as the prime minister of Pakistan. The first was from 1990-1993 during which period President Ghulam  Ishaq Khan dismissed Sharif on corruption charges in 1993. The second term was from 1997 to 1999 when he was ousted by the army and he went in self-deportation to Saudi Arabia.  

His third phase as the prime minister of Pakistan began in 2013 and ended with his judicial disqualification in July 2017 because of the so called “Avenfield Properties Corruption Reference”.

After his and his daughter Mariam Nawaz’ return from England, the Accountability Court on July 6 announced the verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to 11 years in jail. His daughter Maryam was given 7 years for abetment after she was found "instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father" Besides 1 year was added in her jail term for non-cooperation with the bureau.

In the meantime, jailed former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Mariam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain Muhammad Safdar today filed an appeal in the Islamabad High Court against the verdict in one of the corruption cases and seeking their release on bail,

Friday, July 13, 2018

Imran Khan Remains Untouchable and Immune

July 12, 2018

By Saeed Qureshi

By all indications, it is becoming evident that Imran Khan, the Chairman of the Pakistan Tehrik-e- Insaf (PTI)would have the singular exception and distinction not to be touched or troubled by the judiciary and coercive apparatus of either armed forces or the civilian set-up. The pre-elections (to be held on July 25 instant) campaigning and electioneering have been interjected and waylaid by the courts in case of PMNL, PWP and even PPP. The PTI leaders including Chairman Imran Khan are free to canvass and castigate their rivals to their hearts’ fill. 

Ever-since the formation of his own political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 1996, Imran Khan’s posture in the political arena of Pakistan has been condemnatory, abusive and aggressive. One can recall the Dharnas (sits in Islamabad) and barging into the PTV headquarters in Islamabad and various government offices by the charged workers of PTI, Imran Khan never looked back and kept advancing like a cavalier with a sword of invectives and abuses all along.

His onslaught has been lethal and personally accusative against the heads of the political parties with particular focus on Nawaz Sharif and his family members. The politics and agitation through “Dharnas” were later replaced with more sober style in which he would paint the founders and heads of the political parties as embodiment of all the vices and usurpers of the national wealth and who kept Pakistan poor and financially backward.

Initially Mr. Khan lacked the skill of public oration. Yet of late, he can be rated as one of the most aggressive speakers moving his listeners and audiences. His audience are mostly the young generation of Pakistan and are the hallmark and backbone of his political strength and the high level political popularity and hullabaloo.

Since the formation of the fourth PMNL government in 2013, Imran Khan can be rated as one of the most aggressive, ferocious and venomous political opponents of Mian Nawaz Sharif, his clan and cohorts. One may gauge that in the downfall of Nawaz Sharif and his disqualification as the prime minister of Pakistan and subsequent humiliations including judicial activism, can be partly or wholly attributed to the unstinted and diabolic onslaughts of Imran Khan.

The epitaphs, slangs and terms, that he has been using against Nawaz Sharif, can be termed as quite degrading and rather abusive. He seems to be the master of ridicule, jest and condemnation for his political contenders. But such most sleazy name name-calling and accusations have been reserved for Nawaz Sharif, his party associates and the family members.  

On the other side of the political spectrum of Pakistan, several legal cases of ill-gotten money and enhancement of wealth by dubious and questionable means is the most outstanding weapon of Mr. Khan against both Nawaz Sharif, Zardari, Maulana Fazal-Ur-Rahman and other targets.

Imran Khan himself came under the accusations of moral turpitude by a few females. Reham Khan, one of his former wives alleged that he was leading an immoral life with unethical sexual propensity on top. Reham Khan beside Gulalai, publicly accused him as a kind of sexual brute and devoid of basic etiquettes in pursuit of his sexual urges. She has written a book (published today and available) that has negatively impacted against Imran Khan.  

However, it cannot make a ruinous dent into his popularity level that he enjoys with his followers and sympathizers. Even the religious right, preachers and moralists who jump to condemnations and heap divine curse on immorality and immoral people are low lying and evasive.  

On the contrary his followers and supporters mostly, young population (both male and female) believe that he was the only political leader and icon who possesses the guts and character to rid Pakistan and its people of a culture of financial corruption, bad governance, poverty, and institutional breakdown.

It is a blatant question that stares in our faces that why PTI couldn’t produce miracles or overall uplift in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where it has its government since May 31, 2013 with Pervez Khattak as the chief minister. If PTI didn’t do well in public welfare, civic galore, infrastructure, roads, judicial system, education and societal peace, then how can it bridle, overcome and eliminate countless bottlenecks that keep the state of Pakistan dysfunctional, its people poor, backward and caught up in a gridlock of socio- civic, economic, institutional, educational problems, as well as provincial disparity.

The clich├ęs of Imran Khan are spicy for the people but degrading for the political contenders. No inquiry for his asserts or moral deviations have been taken up by the judiciary or filed by a political or social or public leader in the courts. The soumoto actions by the judiciary, JIT and NAB and the superior courts are for other politicians and not for Imran Khan. However, those leaders who have become the target of his sinister accusation, contemptuous and mocking portrayal, could have approached the courts and pursued legal actions against him as well for possessing a property and wealth of almost 15 million dollars ( Wikipedia)  It shows that these leaders don’t want to provoke him further for a more ferocious and degrading retaliation from him.

For instance, he demonstrated in his latest unsurpassed foul mouthing skill by saying that how a dacoit (Nawaz Sharif) can seek warm welcome. He called Nawaz Sharif a donkey and those Pakistanis and his party workers going at the airport for their leader’s reception as a whole lot of donkeys. It is a blatant vulgarity that cannot be condoned or justified by any stretch of imagination.


By Saeed Qureshi
Of late, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has directed the Interior Ministry to place names of Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, other seven account holders and 13 beneficiaries on the Exit Control List. The charges against them are that they all are involved in transferring Rs35 billions to 29 fake bank accounts.  
The verdict with dire sentences with regard to the mega financial corruption cases instituted by NAB against the president of the political party PMNL as well as the former prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law Captain Muhammad Safdar have already been announced.
The lone judges of Accountability Court-I Muhammad Bashir, under directive from supreme court, awarded 11-years rigorous imprisonment to Nawaz with £8 million fine. His daughter Maryam Nawaz has been awarded eight-year imprisonment with £2 million fine. Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law Captain (Retd) Muhammad Safdar was handed down two-year rigorous imprisonment.
All these rigorous jail terms have been awarded to them on manipulation of funds and stacking those overseas. The case is known “Avenfield Apartments Corruption Reference” and has been lingering on for quite some time. However, Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain Safdar have the legal option to file their appeals against this judgment in the high court. They have decided to challenge the Avenfield verdict against them in the Islamabad High Court on Monday.
The Court also disqualified all the three accused from holding any public office for 10 years or availing themselves of bank loans. Declaring their two sons Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, absconders the judge declared issuance of Non-bailable perpetual warrants for their arrest. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz who are in London would be arrested at the airport upon their return to Pakistan.
Hopefully, the legal and prompt actions and verdicts about these mega corruption cases would serve as the first step for the Accountability Courts to move against other similar felons whose number should be running in hundreds if not in thousands. If the inquiry and punishment stop at the Nawaz Sharif Family and Asif Ali Zardari and his sister, then an observer or a layman would have the genuine impression that it was a witch-hunt against these families for political or personal reasons. It could be a decision that might enormously benefit the rival political contenders in the general elections to be held on July 25 instant.
Third in the row could be Imran Khan. It may be imagined that the PTI (Pakistan Tehrik- e- Insaf) chief Imran Khan may also be interrogated either by FIA or NAB to Justify as to how he made a huge property in Bani-Gala near Islamabad the capitol of Pakistan. According to the press reports, Khan owns a 300 kanal mansion in Bani Gala, Islamabad worth ₨750 million (US$7.1 million). He has a house in Zaman Park, Lahore worth ₨29 million (US$270,000). Khan has also been an investor, investing more than ₨. 40 million (US$380,000) in various businesses. He owns furniture of ₨0.6 million (US$5,700) and four goats of ₨0.2 million (US$1,900). However, he has no vehicle registered in his name.
It is interesting to observe that the three mainstream parties are contesting and competing in the general lections scheduled for July 25 this year which means hence in two weeks’ time.
If Imran Khan is left without a Suo Moto action either by NAB and the Supreme Court under the inimitable and bold chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar, then there can be strong chances that he might fair very well in the elections and could be able to form the government at the center. The other possibility is that the nominees, (whosever they might be) of both PPP and PMNL may have tough contest from the PTI. The public meeting in Abbottabad addressed by Imran Khan was huge and unprecedented by virtue of its decorum and presence of the audience.
One may imagine that the arrest and legal action against the heads of both the leading parties namely Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, as a timely ploy to deter these leaders from being re-elected and assume the presidency of their respective parties as well becoming the prime minister of Pakistan.  

The judges of NAB (National Accountability Bureau) are human beings and not mistake-free angels. While handing out verdicts they can be swayed by their likes and dislikes, choice for the favorites and rejection of the non-favorites This kind of attitude has been profusely demonstrated in sentencing Mian Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law captain to a prolonged jail terms which in his case is 11 years, his daughter 7 years and his son in law captain (Retd) Muhammad Safdar for one year. Besides Nawaz Sharif has been fined 8 million pounds and his daughter 2 million pounds.  
The general impression of the observers and the politicians from other political parties is that this accountability action might be beneficial to PMLN to win more votes and thus assail in power arena once again. These views were expressed by no less political stalwarts as Asif Ali Zardari and PTI chief Imran Khan.
It is being speculated( right or wrong) in a section of the press that Mian Saqib Nisar the Chief Justice of Pakistan, in alliance with Pakistan's military establishment, gave stern verdicts against Pakistan Muslim League (N), as well as Nawaz Sharif and his government which was ousted in July 2017.
Nawaz Sharif remained the prime minister three times. The last term was from June5, 2013 to July28, 2017.He relinquished his post after his disqualification in Panama Papers’ case decision in July 2017. He was succeeded by one of his party members Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on 1 August 2017 who served as his successor until 31 May 2018. The caretaker prime minister is Nasirul Mulk( independent) who will hold the office till an elected prime minister replaces him