PPP attacks judiciary to stall corruption cases?
ISLAMABAD: The PPP rumpus at the Parliament was quite predictable. We all expected the ‘jiyalas’ to make noise about the judicial stricture to hold the presidential elections on July 30 instead of August 6—the original date given by the otherwise sacred Election Commission that every politician loves to kick around these days.
All the usual manifestations of the protest were there. The PPP members wore black armbands, huffed and puffed against the “extreme sacrilege” and staged a walkout in the National Assembly. But you can trust Makhdoom Amin Fahim for being the worst rabble-rouser that the PPP may have produced. Makhdoom Saeen’s speech can make even the most raucous hordes doze into boredom. It sounded more as a lullaby than a fiery oration that could stir a political storm.
In contrast, the Senate opposition lived up to its reputation—both in form and fury. A rejuvenated Aitzaz Ahsan led the charge against the judiciary that, in his words: “I once helped restore to its rightful glory.” He made an astute legal argument that the Election Commission could not abdicate its constitutional duty of holding the election to the judiciary. Nor could the judiciary give its verdict on a case that did not violate any fundamental rights. But his colleagues were far more audacious, if not outright contemptuous against our worthy lordships.
Saeed Ghani dubbed the Election Commission and the courts incompetent, partial towards the PML-N and what not. It was a no-holds-barred shouting match that went on without being expunged by PPP’s very own Deputy Chairman Sabir Baloch.
So what is this fuss all about, one may ask. We all know that the PML-N had a winning hand from the start. The opposition could not match the ruling coalition in numbers whether there were two or three candidates. Basically, it’s all about who scored better on the moral and political domain.
On this count, the PPP seems as a bad loser. Yes, the Election Commission and the SC definitely seemed to be going overboard. But the PPP was not far behind in over-reaction by boycotting the elections. Behind all this sham brouhaha is, we suspect, a PPP strategy to stall the corruption cases coming its way.
Some members from the both sides of isle were also heard saying such things that the PPP was preparing to confront the institutions after the presidential immunity ends. They said that such allegations against the judiciary will be a routine matter in the coming days.
Come September, Asif Zardari’s Presidential immunity will be gone and he could face all those NRO cases. Many say that he could actually be arrested on September 6. No wonder he would like to stay abroad during that time or, as Faiz said, ‘Jo kuay yaar say nikley to suay daar chaley.’ The lesser Saeens — Amin Fahim, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Yousaf Raza and Co — confront even more lethal prospects.
So it made sense for the PPP to take on the Supreme Court when it was caught, let’s say, on the wrong foot. The PPP also hopes to revive the party while in opposition. Well, it may not be easy as people are not ready to forgive PPP as yet. More so when the party continues with its old ways: Tappi lords over Sindh while Adi Faryal pulls the strings here in Islamabad. It will take much more than the sudden resurrection of the capable Aitzaz-Raza duo from the dusty closets after five years. Neither was considered worthy to become the Law Minister, let alone the Senate Chairman, but they are now expected to breathe life into a dead horse PPP.
The PML-N does not come out of this as a victor either. It was sure to win the elections but could have played its card with a little panache. It was wrong to seek the election postponement on religious basis. Saeed Ghani aptly said that it would have been more befitting to have the all-important presidential election on the holy 27th Ramazan. Remember Pakistan was born on the 27th Ramazan!
The bigger fiasco was not just about going to the MQM headquarters. It was the way Ishaq Dar and his team were received—almost as a wedding procession. The images did not go well with the vitriolic verbal exchanges between the two in the past and all that PML-N jazz about, well, principles. It simply took out the air, if any, from Nawaz Sharif’s morality balloon.
The PML-N did not need the MQM votes. The beleaguered party might have voted for the PML-N candidate anyway as it did in the case of the Speaker’s election.
Politically, Nawaz Sharif strengthened the PTI by giving away his claims on anti-MQM votes in Karachi. It was also a big jolt for his prospects in rural Sindh where the Pir of Pagaro refused to even entertain the PML-N team.
The PML-N was simply found wanting in political maneuvering. It virtually fell into what was an avoidable controversy. It is sure to win the elections today but it may have lost political and moral ground in a big way.
The PPP might have been better off if the PTI had taken the bait of joining the boycott. It would have created a bigger impact if the entire mainstream had boycotted the presidential elections.
The PTI stands taller by sticking to its stance by not rubbing shoulders with the tainted PPP. More important, it can take the credit for strengthening the institutional democracy.
Tail piece: Trust Maulana Fazlur Rehman for keeping his cards open till the last. After having committed to vote for the PML-N candidate, he threw a feeler that he might change his mind if he was not obliged. Nawaz Sharif may have a few ‘goodies’ for him in the Centre but he could not make JUI part of the Balochistan government. The Baloch and Pashtun nationalists are unanimous to keep the JUI out of government—for once in the last 28 years. But the Maulana simply is not accustomed to live without power. We’ll see which way he will swing today—if you know what I mean.