It’s Clear The Plan Is To Get PPP. But Do We Have An Alternative Federal Party In Sindh?
Despite protests and multiple requests, the NAB proceedings against PPP leaders have been transferred to Rawalpindi accountability court. The latest development is the summoning of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah by NAB Rawalpindi next week on March 26 to inquire about Thatta Sugar Mills.
The PPP leaders, especially Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, has made a strong case against the shifting of the “Fake Accounts Cases” to Rawalpindi. The FIRs, investigations, evidence, accused, all are in Sindh then what is the point of transferring these cases to Rawalpindi, he has asked. If Sindh government couldn’t interfere during the entire period of probe and evidence gathering, why the trials couldn’t be conducted in Sindh, they have asked.
PPP leaders see “a method in this madness”. They believe that these coercive methods are being adopted to roll back 18th amendment and devise a new formula for the National Finance Commission the party has opposed.
“The message is clear. Fall in line or we remove your government in the province”, said a PPP leader requesting anonymity.
Given almost two-thirds majority and the protection provided by the 18th amendment with strong anti-floor crossing mechanisms and the Governor and the federal government made almost powerless, how could Sindh government be removed?
The PPP leaders think, the PTI government and the miltablishment are employing the death by a thousand cuts recipe by laying a siege around the Sindh government. The coercive actions by NAB have already arrested the Speaker of the Sindh Assembly who remains in the NAB custody.
“Summoning Murad Ali Shah is an important signal and attack on the federation”, said the PPP leader. “If the Chief Executive of the province has to run around out of his province to face investigations far away in Rawalpindi, then you can very well imagine how he will run the federating unit”, he said.
The PPP leadership thinks the efforts are afoot to make the party bow or its government would be decapitated by dragging the key figures of the Sindh government and creating a paralysis in the province, forcing them to switch loyalties.
These war bugles should be seen in the regional and international political context. The region remains unstable with proxy wars and destabilisation maneuvers by the rival states in full swing. This has worsened in the post Pulwama relations between India and Pakistan. The post-election situation has not brought political and economic stability in Pakistan either.
“This reminds me of the Colin Powell moment”, said an analyst who didn’t want to be identified. “Remember, he had told Bush before Iraq invasion that we are under Pottery shop obligation. If you break it, you buy it. They broke Iraq and its army and the area is still reeling from its aftermath”.
“Given the situation in troubled region, those harming Pakistan and its integrity, last thing we can do is create another vulnerability for us and a void with no healthy force to replace it”, he said. With Karachi far from settled, Balochistan still simmering with instability, Punjab unhappy after the beating of the PML-N in last elections and the possible fall out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of what happens next in Kabul, last we can do it upset Sindh.
Do we have a healthy party to replace the PPP in Sindh that believes in federalism now? The answer is a clear NO as no federal party, the PTI and the PML-N included, have made any effort to compete against the PPP in Sindh. Then why are we creating instability there? Who will benefit from it? These are important questions before we proceed further. It is time to stop, take a deep breath and ponder over it before we proceed further.
Murtaza Solangi is one of Pakistan’s top journalists, and former Director General of Radio Pakistan. He can be reached [email protected]