Head of PPP Media Cell
“Party will not be over” and, in fact, will remain in the saddle if the prime minister is pleased to accord favourable consideration to the Opposition’s only demand put forward recently. Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah, while addressing the joint press conference on behalf of the Opposition parties in Islamabad, has suggested the viable way out (resignation) to the prime minister to save the country from the probable horrendous aftermaths of the brewing political crisis. It will also ensure the continuity of the democratic system representing all the stakeholders and indeed win win situation. It is a fair demand under the circumstances to pre-empt ugly political turmoil that the country cannot withstand due to multiple challenges it is already confronted with. In case of inaction on his part, the resultant sharp political division — wrought with dangers to democracy and indeed to the federation — may not be averted. Unfortunately, the prime minister has decided to dig in heels and vowed not to resign no matter what. It means the stage is set for the long haul containing the potential of collective political redundancy during the unforeseeable future. This must not revisit Pakistan’s political horizon. The big political minds are expected to exhibit the spirit of statesmanship and stop well short of blundering into a disaster. The people of Pakistan are looking up to them. They must not be frustrated. They had enough of dictatorships and tyrannical rulers in the past those bequeathed nothing but inflicted numerous indignities and humiliations on the nation.
Democratic politics is politics of pluralism in essence. Insistence of imposition of self- righteousness is anathema to its spirit. In democracy and in its best democratic practices, the spirit of accommodation and tolerance are the underpinnings for its development on sustainable basis. It may be pointed out that the combined Opposition parties have convinced the PTI to climb down from its demand for immediate holding of elections. The PTI seemingly also agreed not to insist on the disqualification of host of Sharif family members and other stalwarts of the PML-N including the incumbent finance minister. This flexibility may be appreciated and reciprocated by the PML-N leadership in equal measure. The top leadership may review its decision and consider seriously reaching out to the Opposition parties to find a common ground to more forward positively and objectively. The misplaced concept of invincibility may give space to objectivity and rationality with a tinge of pragmatism.
Opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah deserves kudos for rallying around the rest of the opposition parties on the stated position of the PPP to deal with the political crisis that had surfaced after the submission of the JIT report in the Supreme Court. The PPP had taken the principled stand opposing the holding of snap elections because the party wanted the incumbent assemblies to complete their constitutional tenure and elections should be held in 2018. The rest of the Opposition parties also deserve appreciation for demonstrating sense of immense responsibility in formulating the collective demand of the resignation of the prime minister and refrain from insisting on other demands. It may be recalled the PPP’s leadership had already synchronized its stance before the meeting of Opposition parties on the same lines to ensure the continuity of democratic system as its only top most priority. It made sense because the incumbent prime minister had lost the locus standi after the joint investigation report of the (JIT) because the country’s chief executive’s constitutional office cannot bear the burden of the persona devoid of the moral and legal authority.
Unfortunately, the overt and covert hype created by the Muslim League-N ministers and leaders against the JIT was indicative of their belief of fighting the lost battle ‘the Party is over’, Their tirade against the members of JIT with lot of sound and fury signified nothing but their sheer trepidation anticipating the end of the road. The report submitted probing the allegations of money laundering trail, and the ownership of expensive London property, tax evasion and forgery by the family in particular seemed difficult to rebut in the face of evidences reportedly supported by forensic underpinnings. The loin had been caged in. It may be more dignified and befitting on his part if the writing on the wall is read correctly to face the consequences. He may watch and defend his case with grace in the court room instead of sitting in the Prime Minister House pacing back and forth.
Ironically, he is having the taste of his own medicine. The prime minister may recall his juggernaut in lawyer’s outfit when he filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the PPP government in Memogate scandal praying for the dismissal of the PPP government led by Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani. His move, notwithstanding his written commitment not to endeavour to destabilise the incumbent government as enshrined in the Charter of Democracy (COD) signed in May 2006, was mind blowing and indeed betrayal. It was his sheer political opportunism. Now, he is in a closed alley. He has to face the emerging situation upfront with requisite courage keeping in view the bitter ground realities those cannot be glossed over by adding more smoke or defiance.
The present state of affairs is not tenable and it has to settle down either way, but may not be in favour of the prime minister. It calls upon the ruling political leadership in particular to take bold political move to deflect the grim political scenario in the offing. His stepping down and replacing with his own Party leader may not affect the continuity of the political system and the state affairs will remain normal. A futuristic and pro-active thinking now on his part may mitigate the degree of umbrage inflicted by Panama Papers. It may also whether the storm without hurting the edifice of democratic dispensation to the utter frustration of those who are sitting on the fence with vengeance to enter in the corridors of power by hook and crook. Make no mistake. PML-N top leadership’s procrastination in taking the political initiative may create the space for those who otherwise do not see their prospects of grabbing the reign of the country in the face of nation’s consensus on democracy.
According to the majority of ‘views and news’ in the media, JIT report is a clear-cut indictment on the prime minister and his children that cannot be wished away. The prime minister’s moral authority has been bitterly bruised as a result, and it is extremely difficult for him to run the affairs of the state with his tarnished image. The other political forces of the country may also facilitate him in taking the right decision in the largest interest of the democracy and the country because the confrontation may draw the situation closer to repeating the chequered political history of the country.
They are supposed to be matured people after going through the bitter experiences in the past. The politicians should prove their worth as the master of knowing the art of possible. God forbid, their failure will be the failure of democracy, and the future of the country will be embroiled in deep trouble. In that grim case, they will also stand nowhere as the ground from beneath their feet may be cut off resultantly for the unforeseeable future.
The PPP will never compromise on democracy. It played a leading role in saving democracy from those who were desperately waiting for the “Third Umpire” during the sit-in politics to escort them to the corridors of power. PPP spearheaded the campaign to put cold water on their pernicious plans against democracy and the country. For PPP, democracy is everything. PPP is bound to play the role of saving democracy in case of dangers. Its unequivocal commitment to democracy — stemming from the martyrdoms of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto including its workers — is non-negotiable. PPP cannot afford to see the other side when dangers to democracy in various forms and manifestations are inching towards with tainted intentions. Its leadership is totally aware of the forces those tend to contemplate to drive from the rear and thus take the control of the driving seat. But, PPP is determined not only to resist and scuttle their perfidious designs but also expose their bare-knuckled world of politics.
Now, PPP considers that the stepping down of the prime minster is in the largest interest of the democracy. The PPP leadership has been urging the prime minister to lie low and nominate his substitute to get the air out of the sails of the anti-democratic forces those are active again to caste long shadow on the political future of the country and the federation. Those party leaders who have been advising the prime minister to hold his grounds no matter what may be loyal but they are surely not wise as they are paving the way to the political hell with good intentions. They are hostage of their poor judgment based on their state of denial of the currents and under-currents of the today’s politics. Even, Javed Hashmi, his ardent well-wisher, has given the right advice at the right time urging the prime minister to step aside. He has also suggested couple of names of his possible successor. PML-N has comfortable majority in the House and retaining the Party government will not be problem at all. But, inordinate delay in moving the right direction may prove fatal for the future of democracy in this country.
“The Party will be over” then without a shred of doubt.