STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

With a dust storm on the political horizon, conspiracy theorists and rumor mongers are having a field day. The dust will begin to settle soon. Watching a clip of my friend Hassan Nisar cleared my mind about what we are contending with. Both PPP and PML (N) are far from being political parties; they are private limited companies. Over decades they have perfected the art of snatching power. They grab power using money accumulated by looting, and then use their stint in power to accumulate further ill-gotten wealth. It is a vicious cycle that PM IK has dared to break.
He succeeded in 2018. Will he succeed now? What is the present ruckus about? It is a battle about succession. Nawaz Sharif and Zardari are in their seventies. One pretends to be sick; the other actually suffers from ill health. Biologically, at this age we are all on a downward trajectory. Hence the rush to install successors. A private limited company’s succession is not decided on competence or experience. It is determined by those who hold the stocks. The path is clear; Maryam has been anointed by the high priest and Bilawal is the prince royal.
Despite emulating Hitler’s oratory, front runner Shahbaz Sharif is at best a seat warmer till those offended by Nawaz Sharif are adequately defanged. He is a minor stockholder in this private limited company conveniently being strung along. NS is following the pattern established by patriarch Mian Sharif. He kept his brothers and the family intact till his sons could take over. This will be no different. As a minority shareholder, his son Hamza Shahbaz may be rewarded with CM Punjab eventually.
Let there be no confusion; whatever the pretensions for now, it is Nawaz Sharif coming back to power. It brings into focus the role of those who wield the levers of power. Institutions are known to have an elephant’s memory. Will all the vicious onslaughts by Nawaz Sharif and his lackeys suddenly become palatable? He has a history of locking horns with the Establishment in every tenure. This time it will be with a vengeance.
Have the relations with PM IK soured enough for the Establishment to ignore the consequences of this regime change? I sincerely hope not! Furthermore, is the pressure coming from unseen quarters entirely irresistible? Only time will tell. A big deal is being made about the allies or the unhappy PTI members. I am reminded of a fable in comic books. In a struggle between two factions, it was discovered that all the generals on one side had noses made of wax. There was no need to fight them. All that was needed was to twist their noses and they started to walk in a different direction. It has happened before, will it happen now?
Prior to this move, a malaise had set in the general public; battered by inflation, poor governance and shattered hopes of reforms promised by PTI. It was evident in election results in KP during recent local bodies’ polls. However, the present onslaught by the corrupt mafia has magically galvanized the nation. The national sentiment clearly demonstrates a shift in mood and perception. It is being strongly resented on social media. Thinking minds are clearly outraged. 20 to 30 individuals hold in balance the fate of 220 million people. Democracy has become the worst form of despotism. It is a travesty that should not go unchallenged by those who have the ability to cull it. Pakistanis here and abroad are on the edge of their seats.
OIC Foreign Ministers Conference ended successfully. Apart from Muslim countries there were observers from many nations. The Chinese Foreign Minister attended to express solidarity with the Muslim bloc. This event was fiercely, yet unsuccessfully, resisted by India. The joint communiqué included recognition of the plight of Kashmiris, Palestinians, Rohingas and other Muslims suffering under brutal regimes. The emphasis on economic co-operation and increased trade amongst the participants can set off alarm bells among those fighting to increase their market share.
This was yet another step by PTI to assert their independence breaking the shackles of our traditional masters. Tracing positions taken by PM IK since coming to power clearly demonstrate that Pakistan has abandoned its subservient role. It is no longer a nation that used to ask “how high” when ordered to jump. Now it responds with “absolutely not”.
How palatable is the current stance of Pakistani Government? I was intrigued by a recent comparison made by anchorperson Arshad Sharif between PM IK and Z. A. Bhutto. The similarities of words used by both are mind boggling. It is worth a watch. We all know the fate of Bhutto. Is the present attack on PM IK a precursor to cornering him? A question not to be taken lightly. While the realities on ground have evolved in the last four decades; the interests of the stakeholders have not changed.
The Nation, Establishment, Judiciary and the civil society should all join efforts to prevent these selfish greed driven forces from derailing Pakistan. We are at crossroads of reverting back to days of loot and plunder rather than following a path of a self-respecting nation. It is extremely important for PM IK to be pragmatic and not dogmatic. An Arabic idiom says it all. “A camel cannot see his own hump.” He needs to adopt a course correction, especially in Punjab and reflect on political mismanagement that has led to this day.

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