POLITICS AT THE DEAD END?

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Gen Mirza Aslam Beg

Sunday, August 24, 2014 – Politics can be suppressed and shamed as of now, yet it always finds a way-out and that is how our political parties and Parliamentarians are now trying to break the present political dead-lock, created by Imran Khan (IK) and Tahirul Qadri (TQ). Both IK and TQ were together in 2002 on General Musharraf’s band-wagon, alongwith Q League, Sheikh Rashid, Ahmed Raza Kasuri and others, now stand together, at the door-steps of the Parliament, wanting it to be dismissed. The Pakistani nation initially felt amused with their movement for freedom through revolution, but now it’s getting systolic and one is wondering what lies ahead, as the Army stands at the centre stage to arbitrate, in whose favour, no one knows. Both IK and TQ are adamant that, Nawaz Sharif must go and an interim government be formed to set up the stage for the general elections and form a new government, headed by Imran himself as declared by him. Is there a doubt in any body’s mind that, behind this façade, it is former President, General Musharraf, backed by foreign hands who have their own axe to grind?

Both IK and TQ are adamant in their demands and are not prepared for any thing less than Prime Minister’s resignation,dissolution of the Assemblies and formation of a caretaker government, to hold general elections. The factors causing thedeadlock are such that they cannot be easily unlocked. PM cannot resign because the government and the opposition all support him and if he does resign under pressure, that would set an un-Constitutional precedence, leaving democracy at the mercy of street-mob. On the other hand, if Imran Khan backs out, that would mean political suicide for him. He has already done enough damage to himself, by his unruly agitational politics. As for as Qadri is concerned, he is a political non-entity, amenable to comprise. He may well return to Canada, satisfied to please his masters that he has done his job well, by turning Pakistan’s democracy into a mobocracy.

That is the kind of mobocracy, if not checked, would prevail to tarnish the image of Pakistan; destabilize the government and weaken the resolve of the Armed Forces, facing diverse challenges. Therefore, an immediate corrective measure is needed to decide the issue of the care-taker government and tasking the Army, which is wrongly deployed, guarding buildings which is not their job. Once the decision is made, clear-cut orders, must be given to the Army: “Clear Islamabad of all protestors and mischief mongers, restore law and order, and send both Imran and Qadri packing home”. The caretaker government thus could break the deadlock and create space for politics, to operate and correct the course of democracy.

The political leadership must also accept the reality, that IK and TQ jingoism has established the need to take seriously the matter of rigging in the elections 2013, demanding a major change in the political system of governance, by ensuring fair and free elections, otherwise there will be no political stability. The Parliament, therefore, must rise to the occasion, to take the difficult decision of forming the Caretaker Government, with following tasks assigned to it: Restore law and order and bring political stability in the country; streamline electoral procedures, rules and appoint an independent Election Commissioner; hold census, as soon as possible; appoint a retired justice as head of the Supreme Judicial Council, to ensure an independent judiciary; hold local bodies’ elections; hold general elections and hand-over power to the party, winning maximum seats; and the above tasks must be completed within nine months time, including the elections.

The Army should be tasked to support and assist the care-taker government, to perform and accomplish the mission within the stipulated time-frame. Army’s role at this juncture is extremely essential and important, as it stands at the centre stage of the political quagmire, created by the so called politicians and revolutionaries, who want to create a ‘New Pakistan’, whereas they themselves have become a problem. Only through these means, i.e., using the instruments of state power, both political and military, a level playing field can be provided to all the stake-holders, establishing an exemplary civil-military working relationship.

These are very difficult decisions, our Parliament has to protect itself from the “simmering cauldron that will boil over on the question of rigging”, with greater intensity with each passing day. If the decision is delayed, a climate of uncertainty would prevail, providing space to other elements to intervene and upset the plan of reconciliation which is now possible. It is necessary therefore that ‘the present position of strength’ is maintained by the government to implement the plan of political rehabilitation and stability. That is possible, by taking decisions in time, as not to be overtaken by the events.

—The writer is a Ex-COAS, Pakistan.