Rule Of The Electable
The military boot performance in a TV talk-show by Minister Faisal Vawda appears to be the most emphatic indication of edginess within the ruling party, writes Muhammad Ziauddin.
None of the country’s three major mainstream political parties – PMLN, PTI and PPP – draw their political inspiration from any particular ideology.
In fact, if you go through the entire of gamut of their respective policies when in power, you will find it almost impossible to differentiate one from the other. No matter which of these parties are in power our foreign, economic and security policies, to name a few has remained almost identical.
None has a nation-wide network of political workers in any significant strength. All three are actually made up of electables with the Punjab-based PMLN having most of them. The PTI also based in Punjab has poached habitual lotas (who possess the uncanny foresight of sighting the winner just before every general election) from almost all leading political parties.
PTI’s own original handful of electables seem to have been pushed into the background by the incoming the horde of electables lotas. The PPP seems to have settled for the residual electables in the interior of Sindh.
Almost all these electables are beholden to the establishment for their electoral strength, and certainly not on how many voters vote for them or who has the largest group of political workers backing them.
In fact, each electable has his/her reserved vote bank. And the establishment decides which of these mainstream political parties (PMLN, PTI, PPP, PMLNQ) would suit its political agenda the most, at a particular time; but the final selection is normally done on the personal whims of the uniformed chief political arbitrator of the day.
Since the passage of the Army Act bills, with lightning speed, the national politics seems to have suddenly entered into a phase of intense inter and intra-party polarisation.
Rumours have it that for the first time PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has openly disagreed with his father Asif Ali Zardari who is also the Co-Chairman of the party on the issue of supporting the Army Act Bills unreservedly. Similar differences are reported to have emerged among the prominent electables of the PMLN.
Some of these electables are said to have openly criticised the decision of the London based top leadership of the party to extend unconditional support to the Army Act Bills. Some are said to have taken the decision to mean that the top leadership has compromised on its declared position on civil-military relations.
The ruling PTI too has seemingly started showing signs of jitteriness. The bail-outs of some of the most prominent victims of its political agenda which it was enforcing through the NAB, especially of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari plus the miraculous exit of the former PM from the ECL list and his and brother Shahbaz Sharif’ travel to the UK followed immediately by the PM announcing (rather seemingly presurised into) his change of mind on the NAB law, part of which he has already implemented through the NAB Ordinance, but which is likely to be amended more to suit the wishes of the opposition following the on-going talks between the government and opposition teams have gone into creating a kind of panic among the ruling party members.
Even the PM appears to have diverted his attention from governance which already was too scant to resume his diatribe against the former prime minister calling him and his party as a bunch of fraudias (frauds).
The party has used a recent photograph on social media showing Nawaz Sharif and family enjoying meals in a London restaurant as a proof that the former Prime Minister had escaped to UK ‘faking’ health problems. They are also quoting former Afghan President Karzai who after meeting Nawaz in his Avenfield apartment told the waiting media that he found the PMLN chief in good health, to demand that Nawaz return home forthwith to serve his remaining sentence in the two cases in which he has been held guilty and convicted.
The military boot performance in a TV talk-show by Faisal Vawda, Minister for Water Resources, appears to be the most emphatic indication of edginess within the ruling party. Perhaps the ruling party does not feel all that confident about the continued support of the military boots following what it perceives to be a grand reconciliation between the military boots and the opposition with the former promising to withdraw its witch-hunt against the latter as a trade of for the opposition’s unconditional support for the Army Act Bills.
What Vawda actually meant by his boot antics was, no one else but the PTI alone has the right to lick the boots.
Perhaps the ruling party is not too far from the truth.
The jitters within the ruling party have only increased with almost all its coalition partners starting to increase at this very moment their pressure on the government to carve out their own pound of flesh. The MQM has already left the federal cabinet protesting what it called the government’s continued refusal to attend to the problems of urban Sindh. Attempts by a team led by Asad Umar to appease the MQM-P did not succeed.
The GDA has already met the Sindh Governor and is expected to meet the team headed by Jahangir Tareen. The PMLQ which boycotted the last cabinet meeting has given the Tareen team one week’s time to do the needful, otherwise… It has through innuendos indicated that it wants the Punjab’s CM slot. The BNP (Mengal) has convened a meeting on January 20, to decide whether or not to continue sitting on the treasury benches.
So, the coming weeks appear to be pregnant with possibilities for both the ruling coalition and the opposition combine with the establishment now fully in control of national politics.
The author is a senior journalist and editor.