By Dr Subhash Kapila
Pakistan General Elections July 2018 could have been a defining moment in Pakistan’s political history of a back-to-back democratic transfer of power through the ballot box. But all portents available a month prior to General Elections 2018 suggest that this would be a farcical exercise as Pakistan Army-Judiciary nexus has contrived a political vacuum facilitating Imran Khan to emerge as their preferred winner.
With just about three weeks remaining for the July 2018 General Elections to take place the Pakistan Army has set in motion the unrestrained levers of power at its disposal to ensure the political field in the General Elections is left open for PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s assured victory. This is in addition to the political disqualification of Former PM Nawaz and also ruling that all decisions taken by him while in power stood nullified.
Pakistan Army’s notorious intelligence agency the ISI has been pressed into proactive mode to coerce, intimidate and threaten PML-N politicians to desert the party and join PTI led by Imran Khan. The ISI also has gone around Pakistani media houses and threatened dire consequences against criticism of the Pakistani establishment. Therefore the question that comes to the forefront is whether Pakistan General Elections could throw up an honest political result as against the scripted outcome of the Army-Judiciary nexus preference for PTI Chairman Imran Khan?
Former PM Nawaz Sharif who won major election victories in the last two General Elections in Pakistan stands disqualified for life on specious grounds inflicted by Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice, Once again a Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court has colluded with the Pakistan military hierarchy to impede the emergence of purist PM Nawaz in Pakistan as against Pakistan Army’s persistent credo that Pakistan needs “Guided Democracy”.
Pakistan Chief Justices have traditionally endorsed Pakistan Army rule in the past with the exception of Chief Justice Iftekhar Chaudhary who defied General Musharraf when he was in power.
It is intriguing as to what motives impel Pakistan Chief Justice Nasir Saqib in his political crusade against Former PM Nawaz Sharif coincidental with the end-aim of Pakistan Army Generals? One read somewhere that Chief Justice Saqib in his years as a lawyer was on a retainer to pursue Nawaz Sharif’s legal cases in the past. What has now changed which forces Chief Justice Saqib to be on a virtual crucifixion of the Sharif family and their party Whatever it may be, the fact is that Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice Saqib has irretrievably harmed the emergence of purist democracy in Pakistan.
Political corruption in Pakistan is a national phenomenon and singling out Former PM Nawaz Sharif on by the Army-Judiciary nexus on corruption charges implying that Imran Khan and Zardari are the paragons of virtues is insulting the intelligence of the average Pakistan voter. PTI Chairman Imran Khan in an interview to a Pakistani TV channel conceded that there was enough corruption within his PTI Party.
What needs to be recalled at this stage is as to why the Pakistan Army which initiated and brought Former PM Nawaz Sharif into politics in the Nineties felt compelled to unseat PM Nawaz Sharif three times and never let him complete his tenures as PM? The answers to this brings home many lessons to the fore both for Pakistan’s political leaders and the Pakistan Army which in its arrogance perceives that is has an eternal blank cheque to meddle in Pakistan’s political dynamics in a manner which definitely impedes the evolution of comprehensive democracy and democratic norms.
The major lesson for political leaders arising from the above applies more to Pakistan Army’s favourite candidate PTI Chairman Imran Khan. If on July 25 2018 the Pakistan Army succeeds in installing Imran Khan as the latest Prime Minister of Pakistan then how does Imran Khan reconcile the aspirations of those sections of the Pakistani masses who today seem mesmerised by Imran Khan’s agenda of ‘Change Pakistan’?
‘Change Pakistan ‘would involve a total restructuring of Pakistan’s governance and its political dynamics. Will the Pakistan Army permit Imran Khan’s agenda of ‘Change Pakistan’ into effect? If not, then the only alternative for Imran Khan would be to remain an impotent poster boy of the Pakistan Army and subordinate all his so-called visionary promises for the betterment of Pakistan to the agenda of the Pakistan Army.
Intriguingly, what baffles political analysis is the reality check of Pakistan’s political dynamics is the fact that virtually the entire Pakistan Army General hail from Punjab and so does Former PM Nawaz Sharif who enjoys mass political support in Pakistan Heartland of Pakistan—Punjab. Are the Punjabi Generals not aware of this reality? Or alternatively that the Punjabi Generals of Pakistan Army are aware of this reality but are dancing to the tunes of external patrons which favour Pakistan Army or its political protégé in power to suit their national security interests?
Lastly, a major political imponderable over the political scene in Pakistan is the medical condition of Kulsoom Nawaz who is the wife of Nawaz Sharif. She has been for months in London in critical medical care and virtually on life-support systems. Allah forbid, if in the run-up to General Election 2018 Kulsoom Nawaz passes away then a massive wave of sympathy could rise in Pakistan Punjab adding to the existing sympathy wave of Former PM Nawaz Sharif being victimised by the Army-Judiciary nexus. This could unravel the scripted blueprint of the Army-Judiciary nexus.
Since Pakistan Army has reflexively over the last 70 years has subverted Pakistan’s General Elections and also imposed military rule for extended periods at intervals, the question that goes begging is what forces can put an end to this miserable cycle of subversion of Pakistan’s nascent democracy?
External patrons who matter in Pakistan’s governance like the United States and China would be disinclined to intervene to restore full democracy in Pakistan as it would not serve their national interests in the region.
That only leaves the Pakistani masses to indulge in a massive protest and disobedience political movement to break the shackles of Pakistan Army’s grip on Pakistan’s political dynamics. It has happened in the past with the Million Man March from Lahore to Islamabad to shake the Pakistan Army. And, who was the Pakistani political leader who generated and led this massive demonstration of political strength? It was PML-N leader Former PM Nawaz Sharif. Could there be a repeat in the wake of July 25 2018 General Elections? I feel it is highly likely.
In conclusion, political transformation of Pakistan can only be brought about by the Pakistani masses to send the Pakistan Army to the barracks and re-invent Pakistan into a moderate, progressive and democratic Islamic Republic. The Pakistani masses by girding up their loins will not only resurrect the real Pakistan but also in the bargain ensue that sustainable peace ensues in South Asia.