Wednesday July 06, 2022

Is it democratic to shut down the capital?

By MAK Lodhi
October 27, 2016

Does Imran Khan want third force to offer governance like a cup of ice cream?

News Analysis

To protest against the ruling party is indeed a right of any opposition party or a coalition of parties but is shutting down the capital a norm of democracy? Does this happen in any other country practicing democratic dispensation? If democracy means the rule of people, can they be penalised in their own name? Can the business of the government halted? Can the embassies, courts, business houses and other institutions be locked to force a premier to step down?

Has any philosopher of democracy, past and present, theorised that the doors of democracy be shut down if it’s less than ideal? Is there any democratic polity in the world which can boast of being perfect? Are the Panama Leaks only about the prime minister of Pakistan or a worldwide problem? Is it an event of recent occurrence? Is the current dispensation of governance worse than the previous one? Is there any mass uprising against an unpopular government? Are people sick and tired of the sitting government?

If answers to these questions are in the negative, what kind of example Imran Khan is going to set?In his latest media interaction, Imran Khan has again talked about the third force. How can one commit a huge mistake himself and blame the other guy? Doesn’t Mr Khan know the consequences and repercussions of the third party intervention? Does he think he would be offered to run the country like someone is offered a cup of ice cream? Is he a darling of the establishment? Has any coup maker ever planted a civilian ruler? Does Mr Khan believe in democratic means and struggle to seek power? Is he tired of fighting a long-drawn democratic battle?

Having played cricket all his life, Imran Khan seems to have scant knowledge of the ways of an establishment regime. Does he know that the major responsibility of the ills facing the country falls upon those who seized power through the backdoor?

There can’t be a better example given than that of mushroom growth of jihadist/terrorists, nestled and brought up in the lap of establishment for policies based on short-sighted visions and for limited and tactical gains rather than deep strategic objectives. Two generations were spoiled by the mullah-establishment cliques. The present establishment, we now claim to be heroes for culling the bitter harvests, knows that it was the responsibility of no one else to uproot those nurseries which started posing problems for its own survival.

Imran Khan’s intentions look all the more devious and undemocratic for selecting a time for shutting down the capital when the civilian government intends to appoint a new army chief. He knows that the government will be on a weaker footing while facing with the most sensitive decision-making.

Is a news report leak something that should turn the tables and allow any third force to kick out an elected government? If Imran Khan is seeking a confluence of story leak, appointment of army chief and his call to lock down Islamabad, it is only a witches’ brew and witchcraft has long been an outmoded and outdated concoction. It is a move which few in the democratic world could appreciate. The world leadership would rather be looking smilingly to see how unwise we are. Political sagacity is trait few leaders in Pakistan know.

At the same time, a young and hyped electronic media is perhaps overplaying its hand a little bit. Some of my friends run away their emotions whenever they see a big gathering of people. It’s a feat that can be achieved by any two hoots party, though. I don’t want to mention a recent public meeting by the JI but the reference is apt.

On the other hand, the PTI is a political party whose graph rose dramatically in the last general elections. We, in the media, believe it should grow more and serve the nation as a government in shadow. Media is always supportive of the opposition parties. But unluckily, the PTI leadership hasn’t been playing its cards well and seeking shortcuts. It has faced a series of shocks in by-polls. Seemingly, its graph is going down and weighing on its patience. The PTI can indeed muster up a reasonable strength to block Islamabad. But does it want a stalemate of democratic forces? It seems it does. Not only that, it wants a third force to mediate.

People of Pakistan have seen political stalemates many a time. It is one of the main reasons Pakistan hasn’t progressed. It’s really sad to find that political leadership fails every time it starts functioning.

The newly-liberated electronic media, as well, seems hypersensitive. It projects small episodes as mega events. It is also pushing a hero to wear the robes of a villain. The army leadership should have a smooth change of leadership. The only criterion should be who can lead the war better against terrorism that is still plaguing the country. Men, however heroic their deeds may be, should have no precedence over institutional set-up. The Pakistan Army is a well-oiled machine. It only needs a new leader to further tame the ugly storms. The civilian leadership should just check out who is the next best professional. It holds the experience of picking a favourite, an unpopular general or a stooping one. None works better than a professional soldier.

People just hope that the civilian leadership makes the right choice. A wrong move won’t augur well for the long journey and recovery of the country from a den of hornets’ nests. Pakistan still needs to go miles and miles regarding elimination of its terrorists/ militants outfits of shades and hues, many of which have been uprooted, shaken and removed from its pockets but sprawled all over the country. Their complete elimination will consume tenures of many army chiefs.