FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS – CHAOS OR ELECTIONS

STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

“Mera jhuga te bach gaya, baqi khair aay” said Mannah, a peasant farmer after a devastating flood. “My hut has survived, so all is fine”. That is the prevailing attitude in all the citadels of power and cushy fortified residences of the corrupt elite. They have buried their heads in the sand, as the fate of the nation hangs by a thin thread. It is selfdelusional. Nobody is safe when the ship sinks.

Pakistan is facing huge crises on economic, political, constitutional and security fronts. Each segment feeds off the others. It is snowballing with each passing day. Yet governance is dysfunctional and appears to be paralyzed. Their entire energies are fixated on demonizing Imran Khan and his removal from the political scene. PDM sees writing on the wall; the nations’ electorate is waiting to punish them through the ballot box. Their survival lies in pushing elections as far down the line as possible or block them entirely till they can figure a way to eliminate PTI’s footprint. PM Sharif and his coterie are obsessed by this fixation.

Saving their “jhuga” or selfish objective of dodging the bullet of accountability was their main motivation to bring about the regime change. They achieved this objective by amending the laws making corruption legal for all intents and purposes. It was done in connivance of the Establishment and their foreign masters. Now their biggest fear is IK coming back to power with a thumping majority to undo their misdeeds.

In this game of thrones, Zardari has emerged as a clear winner. He has put his previous arch nemeses and present partner PML (N) in a nowin situation where they have lost serious political ground. He has planned and orchestrated events in a manner that pitches PTI and Establishment on a possible collision course. He has penetrated the corridors of power and manipulated it to have his bespoken son as CM Punjab. For all practical purposes it is Zardari in power in the present interim set-up.

PM Sharif in the Center has aided and abetted CM Naqvi, despite Constitutional constraints on interim set-up of what they can or cannot do. The CM has unleashed wholesale transfers amongst the bureaucracy in violation of the Constitution; posting key officials antagonistic to PTI. It is coupled with large scale suppression of political opponents. Disgraceful behavior with Fawad Chaudhry and now Sheikh Rashid clearly demonstrates fascist tactics intended to intimidate.

Lists are circulating on social media of PTI leaders slated to be arrested. Groundwork is being laid to stack the decks against PTI and rig the elections. All state actors are banding together to prevent Punjab and KP electorate to express their free will. Wholesale arrests, humiliation and intimidation introduced by ZAB, carried forward by Zia and perfected by Sharifs; are meant to terrorize opponents. PTI workers and supporters have to stay firm and stand tall. Tsunami of popular will has to blunt these criminals in control.

A young friend belongs to a hardworking middle class family. He works more than one job to support his family,especially his father who is on dialysis. Sehat card introduced by PTI was a lifesaving intervention. Unfortunately that roof has been ripped by this ruthless regime. Maryam goes to great lengths in taking credit for highways and the orange train and cannot find anything good that PTI has done. Missy, here is a reality check;your seniors built these projects to earn hefty commissions. PTI built the same at a fraction of your cost. Sehat card, Ehsaas program and such efforts gave relief to suffering masses unlike your looting.

Nawaz Sharif affection for acting is well known. His younger brother is not far behind. He made a moving speech for Turkish relief efforts with a lot of emotion. One cannot help wonder why he gets so tongue tied recounting the sufferings and extreme distress of Pakistanis caused by his regime.

Despite humungous challenges of security, economic collapse and crushing inflation, PM Sharif’s Government is entirely focused on how to prevent elections. They have orchestrated a first in Pakistan’s political history. Security forces cannot provide security; Finance Ministry cannot provide funds and Judicial officials unable to perform election duties. It is a blatant admission of State Machinery’s failure to perform their constitutional duties.

Pakistan is not at war and economy has not collapsed. It can afford to hold NA by-elections, pay for 87 member cabinet, provide security to PDM VIPs; yet it is unable to hold provincial elections! Only this release valve can prevent the nation from degenerating into total chaos. It should not be taken lightly. Present backbreaking inflation will only worsen with the impending mini-budget. A clash is inevitable between the 2 to 5% elite and the teeming masses. People’s anger will not be controllable by political leaders, including IK.

A technocratic regime will not work unless it is backed by the army. So we are looking at some version of martial law. It has not worked before so, why take this convoluted route? Hold election in Punjab and KP as required by Constitution within 90 days. With the Establishment on silent mode while their bully boys are trying to create a “Kings Party”, the only respite available is through the Courts presently seized with these matters. Do we have another Justice Munir in the making or will the spirit of Justice Cornelius prevail? Future of Pakistan is at stake.

 

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