Note: A version of this article was published in the Friday Times.
Top leadership of the PMLN failed to convince Asif Ali Zardari to boycott the 2018 general elections together. Zardari was of the view they should not leave the political field open and uncontested. He cited PPPP’s boycott of elections in 1985 that they still regret.
The matter was brought to the leadership of the PDM, but tables couldn’t be turned, and consensus regarding not boycotting the elections prevailed.
After that PMLN had a huddle to discuss whether to boycott the elections or not in their individual capacity. They knew for sure they wouldn’t be allowed to win. They had cogent evidence neither the establishment nor the courts were ready to listen to them. They feared they were doomed. Despite all the odds and omens going against them, the ‘doves’ dominated the ‘hawks’ and PMLN agreed to contest the elections.
That was the decisive step that finally unleashed what was enacted before, during and after the 2018 general elections. The wholesale rigging in the elections and largescale tinkering with the results put the PMLN on the second number.
The PDM raised a hue and cry over the rigged elections. They protested. But again, they wasted another opportunity to bring to a halt the onslaught of the “Imran Project” juggernaut. They eagerly entered the national and provincial assemblies and sat there and created a false comfort in the shape of a parliamentary commission to inquire into the rigging in the elections. Not a single meeting of it ever held.
That is a scenario I had been imagining that would have failed the “Imran Project” from being operational and achieve its goals. However, political parties have their own axe to grind and their political ambitions and politics revolve around their focus to remain connected with the center of the state.
Then the juggernaut did what it could and that was its best. The roller flattened whatever came in its way. The economy ruined. The foreign relations suffered immeasurably. The media corrupted deeply. The fabric of the society broke. Hatred, revengefulness, persecution dominated. And finally, the three- and half-year rule of the “Imran Project” not only miserably collapsed under its own burden, since the PDM/opposition already lost its verve, it exposed the establishment and the higher courts of Pakistan to an unimaginable ignominy also.
It may safely be conjectured that its own internal discord forced the establishment to abandon the “Imran Project” half way (otherwise it would have continued for over a decade) and demonstrate a tactical retreat. The PDM was made aware of it. Thus, as they were in their complete desperation, this “news” reprieved them. They were all up as if they were waiting in the wings, and initiated a no-confidence-move against the Imran Khan government in the national assembly that succeeded after a tense interlude.
Thus, “Imran Project” stands discarded, but not left orphaned. Many fathers want it to continue, succeed and show positive results. Seems they are prepared to pay any price but they won’t allow the PMLN make a comeback.
It’s almost a year now but the PDM coalition government is yet on tenterhooks regarding its fate. Nothing good is coming out of it, nor for its own self. The economy is unstoppably tanking. That’s the end result of PDM’s and mostly PMLN’s and PPPP’s politics of complicity with the establishment. By boycotting, and instead of participating in the 2018 general elections, they deliberately did not make use of the opportunity to give a shock to the establishment. Had they and especially PMLN and the PPPP boycotted the 2018 elections, the system would not have been able to afford that massive a shock and come out intact.
Now as the brunt of the “Imran Project” and failing state economy and disintegrating state institutions has to be borne by the PMLN, as it has the largest share in the federal government, there is an opportunity for the PDM, or the PMLN and the PPPP to give a shock therapy to the system. Or the PMLN alone.
The shock therapy is: 1) Leave the federal/provincial governments: Prime and Chief Ministers and members of all the cabinets, advisors, etc, to resign. 2) Keep away from the politics for a certain period. 3) And allow the establishment and the courts to do what they want to do. Give them free reign. 4) Let this be recorded as a protest. This would serve a shock therapy to the system.
Sitting on the fence doesn’t mean you accepted the fate. Do an aggressive campaign to the effect that the system needs a reset, and you are all for that reset. Expose every department, every institution, and every individual, who helped rig the system.
Somehow it looks like the last opportunity within the box of the system to give it a reset from the inside. In case, the PDM, or the PMLN and the PPPP, or the PMLN alone, do not realize the urgency and the gravity and do not unite, or the PMLN too, do not decide to give the system a shock therapy, tomorrow may be too late.
A reset means going back to the basics, i.e., strict rule of the constitution and the law. Security of fundamental rights to each and every citizen. And an open economy so that people are allowed to improve their lives. Reduce the size of the government and curtail the spending by it. Is that asking for too much?