A contentious path

May 15, 2022

Both national and international politics rest on smooth flow of money. Like all other political parties, the PTI is no exception in terms of foreign financial support. Politics in any case is a...

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Both national and international politics rest on smooth flow of money. Like all other political parties, the PTI is no exception in terms of foreign financial support. Politics in any case is a commercial phenomenon and has very high stakes.

The narrative generated by Imran Khan – of international intervention in local politics – is not new. But the PTI regime being ousted was a result of the weakness of its foreign policy and political instability. On the other hand, this narrative has badly damaged the foreign policy propagated by Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Imran as elected prime minister legitimately had a full term of five years, where the government had the authority and support of the armed forces, bureaucracy, courts, legislature, NAB, law enforcement – and above all 220 million people of Pakistan. Even if the joint opposition won the majority of the nation, what about the other institutions: why did the PTI government lose the confidence of everyone else?

The answer lies in the wrong administrative policies of the previous regime, which the leader of the House failed to acknowledge till his last ball. After the first version of Mian Nawaz Sharif of Mujhe Kyun Nikala, Khan himself proclaimed the second version – Mujhe Yun Nikala – with a self-generated excuse and least support from powerful institutions, bureaucracy, and apex courts. Mr Khan has now found himself stranded and helplessly rushing towards the people of this country once again. The same people who during the 3.5 years’ tenure of Mr Khan suffered the worst inflation ever in the last 70 years are now ready to gear up with the old setup.

The PTI government should realize the importance of being a true opposition once you are no more in power. Uncalled for roadshows and political concerts, which may appeal to some, neither reflect the true stature of a leader, nor change the opinion of the general public, who can be much more forcible within the four walls of a strong parliament.

In the absence of substantial evidence supporting the narrative of foreign intervention, the former premier of Pakistan in his March 27 speech reminds me of the Shakespeare’s celebrated speech of Mark Antony in Julius Caesar (Act III Scene 2):

“O masters, if I were disposed to stir, Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage, I should do Brutus wrong and Cassius wrong, Who you all know, are honourable men: I will not do them wrong, I rather choose to wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you, Then I will wrong such honourable men.

“But here’s a parchment with the seal of Caesar; I found it in his closet, its his will: Let but the Commons hear this testament, which Pardon me I do not mean to read – Any they would go and kiss dead Caesar’s wounds and dip their napkins in his sacred blood…”

Pakistan’s politics has seen so many noble Caesars, Brutus’ and Antonys who after taking oath to defend the constitution brutally violated it for reasons best known to them; they always labeled their predecessors for any wrong done to the country. The easiest yet most controversial is when international intervention is provoked in national politics – may it be the legitimate regimes of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Mian Nawaz Sharif or the military takeover of Gen Ziaul Haq, or the NRO-backed fall of Gen Musharraf. International penetration cannot be ruled out.

An already weak and threatened Imran Khan hiding himself behind the veils of international conspiracy could never be the choice of the people. The former prime minister, although under an oath of constitution, made every possible attempt to overthrow it; this was also confirmed by the then attorney general of Pakistan Mr Khalid Javed Khan who admitted in the Supreme Court that the ruling of the speaker was unjustified and unconstitutional. Again: forcing the speaker to resign before the start of the voting does not reflect the sportsman spirit of accepting defeat honourably within parliament.

The doctrine of separation of powers vis-a-vis the check and balance theory of jurisprudence was safeguarded by the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan by taking a unanimous view. The judgment may have practical reservations including non-involvement of the armed forces of Pakistan in the political scene and interference of the Supreme Court in the proceedings of parliament but overall it was justified in order to set a precedent as it is necessary for every institution to work within the boundaries set by the constitution of Pakistan.

Whether the government or the scattered PTI, let it be reminded to all that Pakistan comes first and the Pakistan armed forces are not only the symbol of state sovereignty but also the source of preserving it. No one should be allowed to play with the image of Pakistan’s armed forces or to create a rift within them.

Pakistan has witnessed such political adventures in the past, which have also created a deadlock of governance resulting in military takeovers. It is assumed and hoped that political pundits will not traverse the path of no return, forcing an intervention.

The writer is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

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