A trailer before the polls

March 22,2018

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When political archrivals surreptitiously converge to a point, agree to a specific agenda and don’t want to look at each other thereafter, people consider it to be a grand design that is taking shape.

The unexpected results of the Senate election have left the public dumbfounded. People have even questioned if it is a trailer before the main show – the 2018 general elections. However, Imran Khan’s bout of anger against some of his party MPs, who sold their votes to elect senators, came to naught. Instead of exposing their names and taking them to task, as he had vowed, Imran Khan preferred political exigency to bravado. He offered the Senate votes on a platter to the chief minister of Balochistan to elect the Senate chairman.

Imran Khan claimed that his decision was purely in the interest of the deprived province of Balochistan. Of course, noble phraseology had to be contrived to rationalise his decision to place PTI senators at the disposal of the Balochistan CM, whose own sudden rise from obscurity continues to confound people.

Balochistan Chief Minister Bizenjo has yet to get used to facing the media as he seems uneasy in the spotlight. The same is the case with Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. It is natural for people to feel that way when they are catapulted from anonymity and placed on a high pedestal in the country. Oh, where are you Raza Rabbani? We are already missing your intellectual discourses. Sadly, you’ve had to suffer because of your libertarianism.

It is often said that politics is the art of the possible. Asif Zardari and Imran Khan have proved it in its most glaring form when they joined hands to elect the Senate chairman. Asif Zardari is known for making clever moves on the political chessboard while smiling end-to-end and pronouncing that he has yet to start playing politics. Zardari can go to any extent to achieve his political objectives But what about Imran Khan’s highfalutin claims of principled politics?

In the aftermath of Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification on the iqama issue – while his ‘hundreds of billions’, according to Imran Khan, have remained hidden – the PML-N is likely to suffer some defections within the party. When party loyalists suddenly begin to talk about principles in politics – as some of them are doing – and find faults in the leadership of the party, it can be safely assumed that they are about to board a flight to greener pastures.

Even though Imran Khan has worked overtime to tarnish and dilute the progress made in Punjab, the fact remains that the province is undergoing remarkable changes for the better. Punjab’s road infrastructure has become the envy of other provinces. A friend from Canada who visited Lahore after a five years was genuinely surprised to see the development that had taken place in the province. Before moving to Canada, he lived in Karachi for many years – which has been reduced to heaps of rubbish everywhere.

But Punjab has left other provinces far behind in terms of progress. The good news is that Dera Ghazi Khan, a district that is considered to be the backwaters of the province, will soon have a cadet college at Fort Munro hill station. Credit for this mainly goes to Shahbaz Sharif who, believably, suffers from two problems, workaholism and insomnia, that drive him to conceive and complete huge development projects.

Nevertheless, now that the chief justice of Pakistan regularly devotes much of his precious time for the public good and the army high command supports the judiciary, the nation expects both institutions to initiate major development projects, such as the construction of large dams in the country.

The country is threatened by a drought-like situation fuelled by the depletion of ground water and an ever-increasing population. According to a report by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, people living in mega cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad will soon face a severe scarcity of potable water and an acute shortage of water for irrigation.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.

Email: pinecitygmail.com


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