Friday September 29, 2023

Dangerous discourse

May 02, 2023

Intellectuals in a society possess a deep insight into the causes behind the challenges faced by a nation and have a clear vision about the course it must traverse in the future in regard to its ideological moorings and objectives. They play a pivotal role in promoting national integration, harmony and progress.

However, if they start selling their souls for promoting partisan views loaded with possibilities of triggering divisive tendencies in society it can ultimately lead to disastrous consequences for the country. Unfortunately, there is no death of such people in our country whose intellect is subservient to the vested interests they belong to or who are paid for their dishonest discourse.

They are feverishly engaged in portraying a distorted picture about the turn of political events in the country and the present impasse in line with the mandated narrative of their benefactors, neglecting their obligations towards society and the state. Their persistent line of propagation is that the permeating situation represents a battle between virtue and evil. In their view, Imran Khan is the flag bearer of virtue. They project him as the most conscientious leader enjoying unprecedented public support and popularity.

For them, the ruling coalition is a conglomeration of the most corrupt elements who have looted the country to build their own fortunes and are now trying every method to keep a stranglehold on political power by defying court verdicts and not fulfilling the constitutional obligation of holding the elections in Punjab within the stipulated period of 90 days. The conclusion of these ‘intellectuals’ is that the coalition is well on course to destroy the edifice of the state.

For the benefit of the public, I would like to discuss one by one the assertions being made by these hired intellectuals. But before I venture to do that, I think it pertinent to say a few words about myself. I am a CSS officer retired from a very senior position about fifteen years back. During my 32 years of service I served as a diplomat in three countries and also held very responsible positions in the government within the country. I am also a witness to the tragedies that unfolded and forced a detour from the objectives of independence. I think that should suffice to establish my credentials for dilating on the matters under discussion.

As to the contention that the present imbroglio constitutes a battle between virtue and evil, it is the most preposterous proposition. What is going on is an intense tug of war between PTI trying to regain political power and PDM striving to remain in saddle and knocking the former out of the political arena. It is power politics at its worst which is bereft of any respect for the constitution, norms of morality and internationally accepted democratic traditions.

Imran is widely believed to have been catapulted to the corridors of power through rigged elections and he enjoyed unqualified institutional support till the latter lost faith in him and withdrew its support that ultimately led to his ouster from power as a result of a no-confidence vote against him by the PDM and its allies. The way Imran’s government was formed is also an open secret: the methods employed to cajole, coerce and bribe different political groups and individuals to join his government. Would any honest and conscientious reformer ever choose such a sinister path to clinch power?

Though the no-confidence motion against Imran was ostensibly a constitutional move, somehow it gave an impression of a maneuvered exercise. I am on record to have opposed this effort of the PDM in my writings pleading that the incumbent government should be allowed to complete its mandated tenure and the tradition of destabilizing the sitting governments must be abandoned to strengthen democracy in the country.

Imran Khan tried to sabotage the no-confidence motion through unconstitutional means instead of letting the process be completed as per the constitutional provisions and then accepting the outcome large-heartedly in the best democratic traditions. But he did not and chose to foment political crisis in the country first by pulling out of the National Assembly and then through the dissolution of the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

My honest and anodyne opinion is that politicians on both sides are chips of the same old block, with myriad skeletons in their cupboards. People need to understand that. Unfortunately, the choice before them is slim. Both sides have an abundance of carpet baggers and political free-loaders who have built their fortunes by exploiting the avenues of corruption in-built in the present system of governance. Things are not going to change no matter how many elections are held under the present system of governance.

As regards the popularity of Imran Khan, there is no doubt he enjoys considerable support in the country – though for all the wrong reasons. I honestly feel that comparing him even with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto would be tantamount to showing a lamp to the sun. Those belonging to my age-group who witnessed the love for Bhutto would bear me out on the issue. Such was his impact that even after 43 years of his judicial murder the political landscape of the country continues to portray its contours.

Unfortunately, the apex court has also played a role in precipitating the political crisis through its opinion on Article 63-A that virtually amounted to re-writing the said article. The controversial verdict regarding the date of elections has aggravated the situation further because in doing so the verdict has usurped the powers of the ECP under the Election Act, 2017. The postponement of elections till October 8 by the ECP is legal in terms of Section 58 of the Election Act which also enjoys the protection of Article 254 of the constitution.

From the foregoing realities it can be safely conferred that politicians on both sides of the divide and others have all contributed to the present crisis. God forbid, if any harm comes to the country, they will all be responsible for it.

The writer is a freelancecontributor. He can be reached at: