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June 26, 2017

Go Nawaz go


June 26, 2017

Be gone, sooner than soon and without a trace. Pack, strap and leave. This country cannot afford to have you in the seat of political power – of which you have too much already.

Your party is in control of the local bodies in Punjab and in the capital. It has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly, an absolute majority in the largest province, its own president and it practically controls all house committees except in the Senate. Now in March next year you can lock out every bit of opposition from policy and legislative fray by controlling the Upper House as well.

This is bad for Pakistan. There must be a limit to one’s political advantage. There seems to be none on you. That you have amassed this concentration of power through votes is immaterial. The end result is what counts, and it is that you will be in an unassailable position to change anything and everything in the constitution by controlling the Senate.

Who knows what you are planning once you are in that position of absolute strength? What vile ideals reside in your head? What games have you thought of playing the moment you see the last horizon coming into your grasp? Even if your heart is clean and head is straight we still don’t want to take that risk.

From the way things stand today – and going purely by the results of the local bodies elections held over the past four years – it is clear that your party will win the next polls. It may not retain its current advantage but it will not be rocked out of power. This means that local bodies, Senate, the National Assembly, provincial assembly and presidency could all be under your control for another five years or more. That is terrible.

Yes, there is no constitutional bar on any party winning elections repeatedly. Nor is there any restriction on how many times the same person can be prime minister. But that is the theory of democracy; we don’t have to live by that theory. It is hard on the eyes to see the same face in the PM House and the same family in power for so long. It just does not look right. Very bad optics. One term is enough, and three times in the PM House is more than enough. Put these two things together and you will understand why we are saying enough is enough.

Also, others must too have a chance at getting their foot in the doors of the PM House. Imran Khan deserves to be there. Why? Why not? This place has seen Shujaat Hussain, Zafarullah Jamali, Shaukat Aziz, Yusuf Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. What’s wrong with Imran Khan? He is qualified. First, because he is Imran Khan. Second, because he says he is qualified. Third, because he’s been around for almost two decades. Fourth, because he’s got his act together now. He offers a mesmerising array of new-generation leadership which includes Firdous Ashaq Awan, probably Sheikh Rashid and even Babar Awan. What more does the nation want? Many others have joined him. These and others who have come to the PTI on special entry passes now present a formidable proposal for future government.

Even if the PTI doesn’t do well at the polls and the result is a weak coalition government at the centre, and in Punjab, that will be far better than one overly powerful party in control of government. Coalition governments have their advantages. They can be turned into governments of All Talent: all manner of national brilliance can be inducted into them; and you could not even appoint a foreign minister.

They are also more dependable because they are bendable. In a country like ours that has multiple challenges on all fronts and which has to do many things above the rules of political correctness, bendability is dependability. Flexibility is acceptability.

CPEC is a strategic project. The Chinese would not want everything to be held hostage to procedure and oversight. Too much is at stake to let process hinder movement of projects. Participation in the Saudi alliance is crucial for Pakistan’s long-term interests (which are too secret to be disclosed to anyone), and they make demands on us. How many windows of decision-making can there be when the king calls us out? How many, really? You don’t understand the sensitivities involved in these big-ticket schemes. You’re a failure. With you out of sight the strategic picture will become clearer in terms of following up on these important areas.

Your departure will also help us fight the war on terror better: at present we cannot explain the connection between your departure and our internal counterterror effort, but somehow we believe that your absence will be good on this front too.

The economy will also improve. Development projects will take off. We will pay back our debt and secure our borders against constant threats from Afghanistan, India, Washington, and now even Iran. Again, we cannot explain the connection between your departure and the arrival of national nirvana but it is generally understood that you are a bad omen and it is because of you that we are in a mess.

Minus you, our policies will be picture perfect. We will have everything under control. Take your long shadow with you. Even though there is little interference from your cabinet in national matters of utmost importance, the presence of this long shadow is too much. It must be cut down to size – nay, made to disappear.

Also, you are corrupt. It is no argument that General Musharraf could not prosecute on corruption charges or that his NAB (headed initially by the forbidding and formidable General Amjad) could not nail you down on shadowy money matters. It is immaterial that your name is not in the Panama list of offshore companies holders.

The general belief is that you are corrupt and you are dishonest. Asif Zardari says so. As do others, like Pervaiz Elahi. Even some media anchors say so. And some judges have found your statements contradictory. The JIT has accused your government of hindering the process of accountability. Judges have passed stern remarks about government officials. In every press conference by the opposition you are called corrupt. So you must be corrupt.

Throwing law and procedure, due process, fair investigation, bar of evidence against this legend of your corruption is irrelevant. This is not the case here. The case is that we believe you are corrupt and if you fail to change our belief you are bound to be corrupt. It is as simple as that.

Why don’t you get it? Why can’t you see the writing on the wall? Why don’t you understand that you are on your way out? We cannot have you around. The outcome of this entire exercise that earnestly started with the rigging charges in 2013 and got a new boost after the Panama leaks is most predictable, most obvious, most known to everyone except you. Very strange. Very odd. Why do you want to suffer the humiliation of a trial and formulation of charges when the whole world knows that this is the end of the road for you? Can’t you tell how predictable every step of the whole process is? And you not understanding this obvious situation is another reason why you should go. How can we have a prime minister who misses the obvious?

At any rate, you have learnt nothing from history – your own or the country’s. You don’t know that great things happen when civilian government heads are bundled out. The 1950s civilian circus folded up and the country became glorious. Bhutto was sent to the gallows and this land glistened and gleamed. You and Benazir Bhutto were chucked out and the country soared to the skies. With you gone, we will have the same dipped-in-rose-water history repeat itself.

So depart gracefully. Depart in peace. Leave. Resign. We haven’t yet figured out how to deal with your present majority in the National Assembly or your government in Punjab, or your party’s control of the local bodies or how to proceed with early elections – all of which remains even when you depart. But this complexity is for later. The same is the case with the other complexity of you defying what is already carved in stone. We will cross the bridge of your defiance when we come to it. We will figure something out. For now, our desire is to see you go. So go.   

The writer is former executive editor of The News and a senior journalist with Geo TV.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @TalatHussain12

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