Continuity of system: Nothing to write home about
Pakistani politics, despite many shortcomings and obstacles, loopholes and ambiguities, has a vibrant format. Politicians have been maligned, alleged and slandered, mostly for the guilt of their own, but they kept the system breathing. Democratic governments were overthrown; and elected representatives, on any good day, were sent home packing, or imprisoned, exiled, hanged or dispatched. But they struggled for democracy, fighting back and challenging the dictators. It is true that we are blessed with neither a Nelson Mandela nor some Mustafa Kamal but then we are not a revolutionary society. Partition of subcontinent has slackened defiant outlooks. Groundbreaking, earthshaking and momentous deeds are not in our good book. We wish abrupt changes but, by default, our DNAs are not coded for them. We wait and see, and then take a step that is barely less than better in the given circumstances.
Good things emanating from Elections 2018
Elections 2018 are an across-the-board example that people favor democracy; they trust their politicians and they express their will whenever they are given a chance. These elections have emanated many good things which are harbinger of a new chapter of our political history. They are irradiating glimmers of a new Pakistan that should be a normal state, believing in co-existence within the comity of nations, getting rid of isolationism of these times.
Some aspects are worth-mentioning:
- People, especially youngsters and women came out in large number to vote and to express their democratic rights.
- In some areas of the country, traditionally women were barred from political process. They were not allowed to vote in elections. But in these elections, ECP ensured that women must vote, and law must take action against any person or faction impeding them.
- People rejected religious parties across the land. MMA, TLP and MMI bit the dust. They will think now thousands times before jumping into the electoral arena again. They must realize that people elect public representative to serve them in assemblies, and ballot is not used to assign Divine Privilege.
- Elections were fair to a large extent. No evidence of rigging has been seen so far. Late result became an issue but people, by and large, believed, as told, that it was due to RTS system breakdown.
- A party, PTI is able to bag seats enough to form government in the center and KP without bothersome coalition. They are likely to make government in Punjab, the largest province of the country. Now, there will be no excuse of bad governance. They will have to perform, especially after raising expectations of the masses so high.
Imran Khan Politician vs Imran Khan Statesman
Imran Khan has been in politics for over two decades now. After making his fortunes in cricket, he tried to cut corners in political fields but it proved a long row to hoe until commentators began to dub him modern day Asghar Khan, whose Tehrik-e-Istiqlal failed to make its presence felt in political landscape of Pakistan. But October 2011 Lahore Jalsa took everyone by surprise. Youngsters, yearning for revolution, were at his elbow, his bandwagon began to swell, change was the battle cry. 2013 elections was a reality check. But he refused to admit his defeat. He called PML-N victory a result of mass rigging. He took to streets; he mounted on the container in Islamabad. Four month long protest showed the index of his political muscle power. Then Panama Leaks were a blot from the blue for his political rivals. The rest is history. Now, after bagging simple majority in 2018 elections, Imran Khan has new kind of journey before him. Now he is not merely firebrand leader of PTI, but PM of Pakistan… the country whose national treasure is empty, who is in FATF’s grey list, facing international isolation, and whose polity is tumbling under surging wave of radicalism. These challenges call for statesmanship of prime caliber. First 100 days will show the glimpse of his capacity to cope with these challenges.
Foreign Policy and Civil-Military Disequilibrium
Our geography is a ceaseless checkmate on us. We have Afghanistan and India to disarray our efforts to stand up. China is our all-weather friend, but it is a huge country. When you stand beside an elephant, you constantly look at its feet and trunk with caution, how friendly it may look. Iran is not happy with us, to say the least.
After Bhutto, our foreign policy is linked with our security; therefore civilians must not put their immature hands at the helm. It is the prerogative of security institutions to determine our international stance. So our foreign trade is constantly hostage to our security notions which have served us no good. In fact, civil-military relations will be a big challenge for Imran Khan if, as his preliminary speech indicates, he wants to make Pakistan a welfare state instead of a security state. Let’s hope so, but with moderate expectations.