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‘Minus-One’ Formula Is Bad For Democracy Regardless Of Who Is At The Receiving End

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Barrister Awais Babar argues ‘minus-one’ formula is bad for democracy. He says Pakistan needs free and fair elections to meet the challenges that plague it today.

When a crime takes place in a town, usually it is the police in charge who is held responsible, and then in order to somehow diffuse the public outrage the public official is either suspended or transferred; hence, substituted. A situation is created which tells a story in which the moral is fixed — had the public official done this or that, this would not have happened. The real culprit, the man who has actually committed the crime and the society which makes that man a criminal is often gone unnoticed.

We see a glimpse of these phenomena every now and then when chief secretaries and IGs are transferred in the hope that the new one might just do some magic as well as their subordinates. Since such magic exists only in the abstract and has no real existence, the button is pressed again and again leading to a futile exercise. One such sword now seems to be hanging over the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan and the idea seems to be: “Why not change the whole thing?”

The respect Imran Khan gained over decades due to his charismatic personality and his achievements got severely tarnished since the day he became the PM. On one hand, ready were his opponents to come back at the man who would not let them govern when they were in power and was constantly busy maligning them.

On the other hand, were challenges, all of them Khan claimed to overcome. Let alone overcome, the challenges overflowed and the government made a really bad first impression and perhaps it became the last one too. And now, all the curses and blames are being laid on the PM’s door.

Although the PM categorically denied the possibility of any such action in his speech in the parliament; however, the fact that he had to deny it shows that someone has in fact muddied the water. What good would it do to anyway?

Suppose the extraction takes place smoothly and we have a new PM, so what?

What would it take for the establishment to understand that their choices will ultimately destroy the country to a point of no return which will ultimately and consequently also weaken the establishment? What would it take for them to understand that the power needs a constant synchronisation or else it ultimately eats itself and vanishes? An establishment can only establish itself when it has a strong mountain to sit on and that mountain is me and you. If I and you cannot choose who rules over us then what is the point of elections, election commissions, and political parties as well as the courts?

Personally, I have no sympathy for the PM of today as he had maligned the former prime ministers with utter disregard and still continues to do so. However, what is true is always true, the PM of Pakistan cannot always be blamed for everything. The PM does not have in his mind the ultimate welfare of the country but is rather entrenched in constant appeasement of his selectors. In the pursuit of perpetual appeasement, the deliverance of the incumbent government shows maximum possible appeasement and has also manifested the unintended consequences of this exercise in the form of extreme bad governance and injustice in the calculation of just allocation of resources to more than 200 million people.

Now, in almost every analysis journalists are propelling the idea that the establishment is disappointed in the PM and is afraid of being directly criticised for their selection. Even though I personally do not admire the PM in the tiniest of bits, but is this fair at all? Is it fair to always blame the PM? Though the PM Imran Khan’s inexperience paved way for the mafia to loot the country in the way it was never looted before nonetheless why blame this seat all the time?

Khan in his quest to conserve maximum power for himself made appointments of people based on their subservience rather than their worthiness for a certain post. The less worthy the man the more powerful seat they were gifted with, only because they are unable by default to realise their powers. This is exactly what establishment does: it wants a PM it can control and as usual mere control is neither working good for the country nor for the controllers. The other day I heard a beautiful phrase in a movie: “A woman that can be bought is not worth having”. Loosely and very lightly, “A PM that can be controlled is not a PM worth having.”

It would be useless to remove Khan from another perspective too; the majority of PTI supporters comprise of the people who only love Imran Khan and believe in the idea that he had no choice but to shake hands with the devil and that ultimately one day Khan will prevail against all. This philosophy is what keeps PTI surviving despite its blunders in conjunction with the umbrella that somehow pops up every time PTI gets into trouble. With Khan gone, things will become uncontrollable for the admins; in fact, Khan is needed more than ever and has become priceless. Replace him with whichever Shah or Tareen, the result will be worse.

Here is a bitter truth. Up until two years ago, many in this country did not even believe that there is something known as ‘the establishment ‘. The ones who knew would pronounce it in a way that the ones who do not know would not understand or at least it felt that way. Today, even a child knows what establishment is or at least has a rough idea and would give you a thousand arguments in its favour or against it depending on who their parents are. What has led to this day? The ultimate desire for unfettered power in the form of a controllable PM and a constant preparation of dummy substitutes.

The Chief of Army Staff is almost always held more authentic and honourable by the masses within and outside the country. This authenticity and honour resonate with the dishonour attached to the post of the PM because the ones who have held them have been known to destroy the country. But were they PMs at all? PM is not a man who gives a speech in the parliament but the one who is actually riding the horse and it is definitely not Imran Khan. Whoever climbs this horse in the future will hold the key to solutions of all the problems in this country and until it is climbed it will keep securing the same position.

So what is the solution then? The only solution is the installation of free and fair elections. That is the only way people can hold the ones governing over them responsible for their shortcomings and keep bringing in new leadership; the one which will aim for the appeasement of people because they would know that it is the people who have brought them to power.

But this is exactly what the establishment is postponing for as long as they can and the Imran Khan of today should not be surprised tomorrow if he too is held responsible for the destruction of this country alongside Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif and many others omitted in the list.

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