Reign Of Chaos In The State Of La La Land
The apex court of the country and its honorable judges are just the latest additions to the PTI adversaries’ club. This tendency to pass the buck every single time and never look inwards has led to a victimhood mentality in the ruling party and their boisterous supporters, writes Awais Saleem.
Another day, another self-inflicted crisis threatening to sweep the government off its feet, another dash for survival, another escape by a whisker, another attempt to find conspiracy theories behind the turn of events. Back to normal business momentarily. Repeat.
This perpetually chaotic and reactive style of governance has become the default mode of operations in Naya Pakistan. The drama played out in the apex court is just a fresh twist in the theater of the absurd. It can be safely predicted that it isn’t going to be the last either. After every bump on the road, any hopes of a course correction or acknowledgment of chinks in the armor quickly subside in the wake of scapegoating efforts masterminded by the ruling party’s top echelons and lapped up by the rank and file.
Who could have thought that PTI leadership and their sympathizers would have such an abrupt change of heart regarding Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, who had chaired the bench that convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and was hailed subsequently as a jurist of unparalleled excellence and integrity in Pakistan’s history by none other than Imran Khan? Almost a year on, Justice Khosa is the country’s chief justice, Imran Khan is the Prime Minister, and to say that their relationship is tense would be an understatement.
The fact that the SC decided to take up a case involving extension in the service term of army chief even brought out insinuations of CJP working on an alleged foreign agenda to undermine national interest. Prime Minister Imran Khan didn’t hold back his displeasure in a speech immediately after the wrapping-up of case in SC. He stressed that the petition was backed by the mafia who wanted to see the country destabilized and it was making enemy countries ecstatic.
There is no reason why we shouldn’t take the words of the worthy prime minister at face value. After all, he has promised the nation that he will never lie to them. He must have credible information to back up his claim, though he stopped short of sharing any such leads in the said speech. His frustration with the courts is pretty evident nonetheless, and the mercury is rising with each passing day. We all know that when PM Khan starts treading that path, restraint is not always his preferred option.
But who exactly is the mafia here? Did the same mafia influence the Prime Minister who issued a handwritten notification granting extension without realizing that it was in contravention of the rules? Did this mafia ask the government apparatus to move the summary for extension to the presidency while changing wording at each step? Was it the mafia who brainwashed advocate Riaz Rahi to file a petition challenging army chief’s extension? Was it the mafia who took on the avatar of CJP to hear the case? Was it the mafia who convinced the government’s legal wizards to admit procedural irregularities before the supreme court? Or was it the mafia that made this team submit incorrect amendment in rules to the bench? We don’t know any of these answers, and most likely we never will.
Should all this come as a surprise to anybody? Is it something that has transpired out of the blue or it follows a consistent pattern? There are enough indications pointing to the latter. Anytime a political opponent, civil society, media, or courts have questioned the PTI on anything, they are either a supporter of status-quo or a foreign agent. The trigger-happy tabdeeli crowd distributes these readily minted badges of dishonor left, right, and center at the slightest of provocations.
Dare questioning PTI’s pre-election rhetoric offering simplistic solutions to complex national problems, flag the tendency to swap principles for electables, point out backtracking on election promises after assuming power, inquire about a lack of direction when it comes to resolving economic issues, or merely mention the irony in one U-turn after the other, you are volunteering to put your head on the PTI chopping block. It is always somebody else’s fault in the state of la la land.
They started with blaming the previous government (with some merit) for the country’s problems. Almost a year and a half into the saddle, it has become their go-to strategy every time they find themselves under pressure owing of their inherent contradictions in thought and actions. Why is the government adding to the already inflated foreign debts? It’s the previous government. Why are the commodity prices skyrocketing? It’s the previous rulers. What about inflation? Because of house of Sharifs. Why is business sector under so much stress? Curse the last government.
Then was the turn of civil society. Oh, you talk about health and education accessibility for all? You didn’t do so in the last regime, so shut up. You mentioned minorities and equal rights? You must be a member of candle-light mafia. Media was next in the firing line. Dollar price was surging, and stock market was fluctuating only because some anchors were discussing these topics in their primetime shows. If they were questioning the steps for revival of economy instead of showering unbridled admiration on the PM and his team’s tweets, it only meant that they were either being fed lifafas by opposition or were on a foreign agenda against tabdeeli.
The same chorus is used to silence complaints about governance. If Punjab is being managed in a questionable manner or BRT in Peshawar has become a running joke, it is because the bureaucracy is not being cooperative. If the government is unable to keep a tab on the burning issues, it is because of the rotten eggs in the cabinet. The solution to all that mess is reshuffling important bureaucrats and cabinet portfolio every few months. Does playing musical chairs with such impunity to buy time solve the jigsaw puzzle in the longer run? Try reasoning that with the fan club at your own peril.
The apex court of the country and its honorable judges are just the latest additions to the PTI adversaries’ club. This tendency to pass the buck every single time and never look inwards has led to a victimhood mentality in the ruling party and their boisterous supporters. They are always innocent, always well-intentioned, yet always wronged by one mafia or the other. Hoping for these propensities to make way for some honest reflection anytime soon is perhaps asking for too much. The ramifications for the party and the country, going by the evidence of the last few months, could turn out to fatal.
Do they really think they can keep doing it and will keep getting away with it? It is not their shallow rhetoric and blame-game that is going to eventually save the day for them. It will always be their on-ground performance and their ability to co-exist with other key institutions and stakeholders. Good intentions (and handsomeness to boot) are praiseworthy in isolation but never enough in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps it is high time for them to realize that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It will be uncharacteristic for a party that is always perched atop the proverbial container, but it is the only pragmatic way forward. The sooner it dawns on them, the better.
Dr Awais Saleem is an Assistant Professor at Lamar University, Texas, USA. He has also worked in print and broadcast media in Pakistan.