STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

Pakistan has only one national anthem, however on occasions a particular song sinks into the psyche of the nation and takes on proportions larger than the anthem. During 1965 war Madam Nur Jehan’s rendering “meray dhol sipahia tano rab diya rakhan” was a tonic that galvanized the nation. It captured the feelings and motivated the entire nation to stand behind armed forces. The words are simple, it translates “my dear soldier may God be with you”; yet it electrified the whole country.

Those sentiments continued over decades despite transgressions by Generals Yahya, Zia and Musharraf. These all powerful dictators disrupted the democratic dispensation.  However, their personal conduct in financial matters was perceived as beyond reproach. That changed over the last decade starting with General Kiyani. Two viruses; the urge to acquire wealth and the urge to run affairs of the state by imposition of their will over elected rulers has severely tarnished and dented this image.

First Zardari and then the Sharifs actively connived and permitted this imposition because it fitted well with their own personal agendas of looting the nation. All this happened behind closed doors surreptitiously while everyone maintained their holier than thou posturing. This gimmickry ended for two reasons.  First social media evolved and penetrated sources of information and secondly a leader came to the forefront that was not willing to play ball. Imran Khan had been hammering the nation with a message of seeking accountability and justice for all since 1996. It started with listen but don’t vote in 1997 elections to eventually catching the imagination of the voters in 2018.

The then army Chief General Bajwa may have enabled the 3rd contender to come to the forefront riding a popular wave and breaking the Zardari Sharif stranglehold on power. However soon thereafter it became apparent that Imran Khan was restricted to a paper thin majority needing the crutches of smaller parties controlled by GHQ to form a government. After getting an extension actively supported by all political blocks, General Bajwa became far more assertive. He successfully blocked every effort to bring about accountability by controlling NAB. Corruption was not an issue for him as it has become evident that he himself was on the same journey of acquiring wealth.

Imran Khan in the meantime had gotten a handle on the economy and was charting a way on the international arena emerging as a fiercely independent leader. As his stature grew, it irked both the international powers abroad and the all powerful Bajwa at home. This inconvenience ended with ouster of IK in connivance with PDM parties sulking on the periphery for having lost power to loot and actually being held accountable.

In April 2022 the fall of PTI government actually turned out to be a blessing for IK. The Punjabi idiom about the hunchback benefitting from a kick that straightens his back goes “kubay no lat raas a gaye”. PTI was replaced by PDM comprising the corrupt old guard that was inducted by General Bajwa. They came in with a three point agenda; to dismantle accountability laws, getting rid of all cases that would have led to prolonged jail sentences and demolishing or eliminating IK from the political scene.  

PDM has already achieved the first two points and are working hard at the third. However their coming to power has unleashed another phenomenon never seen before on Pakistan’s political landscape. The people have renewed their vows with IK. PTI’s popularity was actually waning pre-April downfall. Inflation was an international reality after Covid; it was used by PML (N) media pundits to fuel discontent very effectively. Many uncommitted self serving members of IK’s party were spreading their wings to abort PTI.

Induction of the corrupt and incompetent regime triggered inflation unseen in Pakistan. Their criminal machinations and role of General Bajwa and his cohorts were completely exposed by the brave on all forms of media. The last twelve months have been a prolonged eclipse for the nation. It has led Pakistanis realize all the warts and bruises suffered by them through the connivance of corrupt mafia, the all powerful bureaucracy and Generals wielding the stick.

The nation has galvanized behind Imran Khan as never before. Their anger against this gross injustice and the anguish caused by the unrelenting pain of a runaway inflation has reached humungous proportions. It has channelized into political support for PTI that has completely destroyed the nerves of the corrupt mafia. PDM has faced defeat after defeat in elections in all four corners of the country. They want to run away from elections with active support of the establishment and their like-minded in judiciary.

Brutal tactics and Machiavellian schemes have been adopted to prevent the will of the people to prevail. PML (N) is resorting to desperate measures. Maryam Nawaz has decidedly gone bonkers. Her mad ravings before mini- crowds are frustrating this criminal mafia. Their unsuccessful murder attempt on IK is now replaced with new plots to eliminate IK.

I have repeatedly written about the silver lining that could emerge if the Judiciary comes forth to end the prevailing nightmare. PDM’s efforts to block elections through their partner ECP has been demolished by a judgment of Supreme Court’s majority decision. It will be remembered as a golden moment in our otherwise tarnished history. I will go on a limb by calling the three brave Justices as the saviors of democracy in Pakistan.                


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