STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan
Marcus Aurelius was the last Roman Emperor during a period known as “Pax Romana”, an age of relative peace and stability from 27BC to 180 AD. He was a successful ruler and recorded in history as a prominent stoic philosopher. His thoughts are valid even today. In his philosophical work The Meditations he writes “When a bunch of already corrupt people unite against one single man and spare no effort to ridicule him, throw blames at him, blackmail him, stress him in unknown ways, attempt to assassinate his character ..Blindly follow that one man!”
This is what is going on in our political scene these days. Two mainstream political opponents, PML (N) and PPP, who have been at each other’s throat for over three decades have joined forces. They are supported by modern day Machiavelli, Maulana Fazal, some opportunist allies and PTI renegades. They all have one point agenda – removal of Imran Khan. What is their motivation? It definitely is not the welfare of the common man. In reality the common man is suffering due to their wild plundering of national exchequer. During their destructive tenures they have indebted the nation to unsustainable levels.
What unites them is the fear of accountability; a Turkish bath in which all of them are naked. They have made over a dozen attempts previously which fizzled out. It is mainly due to their selfish and devious agendas. This time it appears to be different. They have seen chinks in the ruler’s armor; their international backers have opened floodgates of finances. They are heavily reliant on the neutrality of the Establishment. The D-Day is not far.
Another factor at play is weakness within PTI so aptly described by the stoic philosophers. According to them a ruler should be indifferent to status, power, and possessions. Their priority must be to display respect to their relationships. Unfortunately this aspect has been totally ignored. Personal relationships count for a lot in Parliamentary democracy. Yet PTI leadership throughout its tenure has failed to build bridges within the Party, allies and the opposition. PM IK is attempting to reach out at this stage; it may be too little too late.
PTI had always maintained an aggressive posture. It was required to break the stranglehold of two parties. After coming into power it should have been tempered down. Unfortunately during a recent visit to Islamabad to attend PTI Overseas Convention and interacting with some of the current leadership, I realized aggression has translated into arrogance. It has sidelined self respecting diehards not willing to be part of adulating hordes trampling over each other to be seen with the leadership.
This behavior has provided an opportunity to the opponents to chisel away support from within PTI ranks. It is leading upto a sad day for Pakistan. The biggest schism has happened in Pakistan’s bastion of power; Punjab. Saddled with incompetent leadership, this Province that was supposed to be power base of PTI is in total disarray. CM Buzdar has totally failed to deliver on any political front. This huge breach has hemorrhaged PTI support and created impediments towards holding onto the magic number of 172 parliamentarians.
“BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH” says the soothsayer in Shakespeare’s drama “Julius Caesar”. During March the full moon falls around middle of the month. It warns of deception from within. With every passing day the realities are coming to the fore. There still can be many a slip between the cup and the lip. Let us see.
What is likely to happen on the 28th of March? PM IK may be able to pull a rabbit out of his hat and survive this attempt. With his paper thin majority Oppositions attempts will continue for the balance of his term making him ineffective.
He can fall victim to this massive conspiracy and lose the vote of confidence. This may work out to be the best course for PTI. I have seen too often that lines blur between parliamentary support and the vote bank. A PM IK forced out of office by liars and manipulators may lead to his supporters getting rejuvenated; unwilling to accept the gang of fraudsters taking over the reins of power. A thief is a thief, in or out of power.
The recent public meetings in Punjab and KP are a clear indication that voters and supporters are willing to look past inflation and other missteps; they believe in their leader and will follow his lead. It is a positive indication for those who believe in reforms despite the current setback.
It will give PM IK an opportunity to reflect on what went wrong. Relying on “electables” is putting reliance on shifting sands. He needs to definitely revisit premises he relied upon to achieve power in the first round. He must draw on lessons from history like Emperor Akbar surrounding himself with “nau rattans” or the competence of Sher Shah Suri’s committed lieutenants. He needs to revive his committed cadre and give them the respect they deserve.
Pakistan needs an honest leader that can steer the ship in turbulent waters. We have taken a good start; yet much needs to be done. A second round may be in the offing. It requires a lot of homework, planning and reliance on the team that can execute without faltering. It won’t be easy but who said changing the fate of a nation would be an easy task?