STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan
Filling gas balloons is a routine now-a-days for party events. Helium canisters are readily available. It was not so six decades ago. The balloon vendor would show up with his wooden cart and a gas tank and announce his arrival by ringing a bell. I along with my cousins and other youngsters would congregate forming a circle as spectators. The vendor, conscious of the audience, would fill each balloon with the flair of a showman and sell themfor one “anna” to the mesmerized onlookers. Every so often he would overfill a balloon that would burst with a bang, evoking all kinds of reactions and excitement.
There is similarity between getting the right quantity in a gas balloon and managing pent–up human emotions. If not managed right, both can blow up. That is the status prevailing on our political landscape. Since the ouster of PTI in April, PDM and its handlers have embarked on acruel and relentless journey of pushing the masses against a wall in a number of ways.
The biggest factor is crippling inflation; it has made life a living hell. It is a huge struggle just to put food on the table. Economic management is a total disaster. Thousands of factories employing millions are shutting down; either they are no longer financially viable or raw materials are unavailable. Unemployment has shot up.Exports have declined precipitously. Remittances have tanked. This criminal mafia changed legislation to legalize their unforgivable looting of the nation’s coffers over 30 years. Cases worth 1100 billion have evaporated into thin air. Ham fisted and brutal suppression of dissent has become the order of the day. Prime target is Imran Khan; to be eliminated physically or politically with no holds barred. 70 FIRs have been registered against him, with more to come.
On top of it all, constitutional violations are the order of the day. There is a huge dichotomy between the conduct of PTI and how PDM has handled itself; a point that has not been highlighted enough on the media. PDM has bent every rule and twisted the laws to harass opponents through violence and persecution. PTI has offered stiff resistance; yet gone that extra mile to stay within law and constitutional provisions. Generally it is the opposition that disrupts and those in power uphold the law; ironically water flows upstream in Pakistan.
A prime example is the dissolution of Punjab and KP Governments. According to conventional wisdom, PTI should have continued in power to combat the Federal Government by confining its writ to Islamabad. Thisstalemate would have continued till assemblies completedtheir tenures. IK took a bold decision to voluntarily give up power and trigger the process of holding fresh elections within 90 days; as mandated by the Constitution. This constitutional guarantee is being violated by those who are under oath to ensure free and fair elections – the ECP in cahoots with the Governors of both provinces. Federal Government is the puppeteer pulling their strings. In this age of social media facts cannot be concealed. This criminal behavior of not holding elections within stipulated time shall trigger the articles of Constitution dealing with willful treason. It is causing extreme frustration amongst the electorate who are being denied their right to express through ballot boxes.
NAB, FIA, anti-corruption department and intelligence agencies have been tasked to coerce PTI and its leadership in every which way. Bulldozing has peaked and reached a breaking point leading to the resignation of NABChairman, Aftab Sultan. He served as IB Chief both under PPP and PML (N). Whatever his political leanings, his competence was never in question. This stalwart from my hometown is a through-bred professional. He served with my late friend Javed Noor, who always valued his steadfastness. When Mr. Sultan says “enough is enough” it clearly establishes that things are rotten beyond redemption.
With this background, the levels of frustration and anger have begun to spill over. People have morphed behind Imran Khan as their credible and trustworthy leader. We saw this in the charged crowds that gathered when IK went to the High Court for his bail. As a veteran of rallies I could sense the pulse and mood of those present. Any mishandling would have triggered a situation that would be difficult to contain without bloodshed. These pent up emotions are brewing like lava ready to burst.
I don’t know whether IK realizes it or not; he has successfully channelized the masses anger from spilling over in a destructive manner. If IK is prevented from implementing his reform agenda through the ballot box,the consequences will be horrendous. It will turn into a clash between the haves and the have-nots as seen in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, PTI must thank its opponents for providing an opportunity to train its cadres and organize itself as a vibrant party. Serving jail time fortifies resolve and commitment of workers who can wear their badge of courage with pride.
Finally after much prevarication, the Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the rudderless ambivalence shown by ECP, Governors of Punjab and KP. Federal Government’s behind the scenes manipulation stands exposed. Constitution dictates elections in 90 days. Suo Moto questions hit the nail on its head. Who, when and how will elections be conducted? It is a silver lining in a very dark night. We hope these issues will be resolved soon to pave the way for a free and fair election.