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October 13, 2019

Political calculus

Opinion

October 13, 2019

File photo.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman is one of the shrewdest political brains in the country. Plus, he has the capacity to raise a protesting crowd. The fact remains that for the first time in decades, his share of the power pie is next to nothing. He is ambitious and senses an opportunity to uplift his popularity graph and be able to grab a larger share of the pie in the future.

Yes, he has already replaced Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari as the real face of the opposition. Their top-most priority is to get out of jail. I sense a certain feeling both within the PML-N and the PPP that things will begin to turn a bit more favourable post November 30. Sources within the PML-N and the PPP also confess their concerns of some sort of intervention if things go out of control.

Economic activity is slowing down faster than I had expected just a few months ago. A million are out of work and four million have been pushed below the line of poverty. Yes, economic pain is now spreading like wildfire. This weakness becomes Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s strength. Governance – especially in Punjab – is the other weakness. This weakness also becomes Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s strength.

The other weakness of the current government is an almost total focus on the rear-view mirror – the loot and plunder that took place in the past. Lo and behold, driving a car with a total focus on the rear-view mirror can result in a wreck.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s goals are both declared and concealed. The declared goals are: One, the PM should resign. Two, the National Assembly should be dissolved. Three, a new election should be held. All three declared goals have neither any legal nor any moral weight. The concealed goal is to uplift his personal popularity graph and be able to grab a large share of the power pie in the future. Yes, Maulana Fazlur Rehman has so far failed to allure a political ally to openly stand with him.

We are a country a where dozens of internal and external well financed centrifugal forces are hard at work. We are a country where our enemies are throwing dollars to exploit our internal fissures. We are a country where our enemies are throwing dollars to pitch powers within against each other. The eventual goal is to weaken our war-fighting capability. I consider the Pak Army as the most effective centripetal force in the country.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman knows his history well – and history is witness that dharnas and protest marches have never brought down a sitting government. These exercises only create chaos and spread anarchy. I am one hundred percent convinced that chaos and anarchy are the last things we need right now.

I am one hundred percent convinced that a dharna or a violent protest at this stage – and at this point in time – is not in the greater interest of Pakistan (both internally and externally). Maulana sahib, please reconsider.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @saleemfarrukh

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