Defections and desertions

Two seasons are currently running along side each other apparently in the country presently. One is of budget season which has been advanced in view of the fast approaching holy month of fasting Ramzanul Mubarik. Presentation of federal and provincial budgets for financial year 2018-19 has also been advanced as the constitutional five years tenure at the federal and provincial levels is expiring around end of May.
Incumbent ruling party PML (N) has already present its sixth budget on April 27 in somewhat controversial manner whether it should do that or let the next regime do so. Traditionally, the provincial budgets are presented few days after the federal budget but the provincial governments are still unable to do that as they are pondering whether to present budget for three months or for full year.
The other season is of general elections which are due to be held sometime in July 2018 and electioneering by the political and religion parties is also picking up pace and public meetings are being held quite frequently and contacting people campaigns are also being put in top gear with the passage time.
Side by side with these two seasons, another season of changing of political affiliations and loyalty is also in progress and almost every day, for last couple of weeks, political leaders both known and unknown are deserting and defecting their parties and joining the other one. It is rather least comprehensible that why the political leaders change their affiliations from one party to the other after remaining loyal to it for almost five years as the time for fresh elections approaches.
Apparently, they do so after their parent party leadership indicates to them that they will not be given tickets for contesting polls at the national and political and levels and they just jump out and join another party to try their luck there or being given assurance for a ticket only to attract more leaders of other parties to their fold or they see better chance of winning the national and provincial assemblies election from the party they are joining rather than the one for which they are loyal till the time for fresh election approached.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) and Pakistan Muslim League (PML) , MQM Pakistan and Pak Sarzameen Party are the main parties who are either suffering on account of their leaders deserting and defecting and jumping on the other parties band wagons or gaining strength with other parties leaders joining them.
In deserting and defecting their political parties, political leaders are mostly not following the normal moral obligations of first resigning from their parties with whom they are associated formally intimating to the party leadership they are quitting for reasons better known to them and then joining the other party. The wickets are falling every now and then and those running around from one to the other party are surely and certainly not all winning horses.
PML (N) supreme leader and disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is on record to have said that those who have deserted and defected the party are not among them.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has vowed to expose the forces behind PMN(N)’s desertions. PML President and former Prime Minister Ch Shujat Hussain has said that there is no kings party and political leaders are shifting their loyalties on their own as they are not small children drinking milk. PTI Chairman Imran Khan and PPP Chairman Bilawal B.Zardari are just welcoming political leaders into their fold saying their doors are open for everyone.
Political leaders are indulging in not so appreciable and welcome acts of switching over from one party to the other because they want to increase their winning chances as much as possible as they want to remain active in the political arena for as long as possible. Changing political affiliations and loyalties is not a new phenomenon however. This switching of political affairs overnight was also quite visible ahead of last general elections of 2013 which were won by PML(N) and Mian Nawaz Sharif had become the Prime Minister for the third time consequent to the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment earlier on.
To freshen the memories of the readers, it may be mentioned here that prior to 2013 general elections, PPP Patriots had joined the then ruling party PML (Quaid-i-Azam) in pretty good number not out of any commitment but for improving chances of their success in the polls in case they are considered worthy of a party ticket at all. The Patriots then had done this earlier also couple of years ago.
PPP Patriots had come into existence after a number of MNAs and MPAs who had contested and won the October 2002 elections on PPP Parliamentarian’s tickets, overnight changed their political affiliations and put their eggs in the basket of the PPP Patriots. The Patriots afterwards had got themselves officially registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan under name of PPP.
PPP which was originally founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto following his hanging on charges of abetment of father of a political adversary, Begum Nusrat Bhutto had taken over the reigns of the party but very soon she was overthrown by none else but daughter Benazir Bhutto who had become the party’s Life Chairperson. On her tragic demise, Asif Ali Zardari had taken over the party , knowing fully well only a Bhutto can keep the party intact, his son’s name was changed to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Both father and son accordingly are continuing as Co-Chairman and Chairman of the PPP.
During the time Benazir Bhutto was Life Chairman, PPP was got registered with the Election Commission as PPP Parliamentarians, which was headed by Makhdoom Amin Faheem. PPP Patriots leaders had deserted PPP Parliamentarians and then also deserted Patriots to join the ruling party PML-QA to improve their chances of their success in the general elections. They had deserted and defected as political turncoats twice at least in a short period of four years.
PML-QA was promoted and patronized by third military dictator General Pervez Musharraf and those join the PML-QA were sensible enough, despite being turn coats, they have better politicak survival chance under the umbrella of President/Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharaf, PML-QA President Ch Shujat Hussain and Punjab Chief Minister Ch Parvez Elahi and on switching over they had reposed an unwavering and unflinching faith in the leadership of the President/COAS and the Chaudhry Brothers from Gujrat. Cutting the long bitter switching political loyalties frequently story short, without mentioning the political turn coats then and now, political parties and their leadership as well as the political figures of any standing and worth do keep on trying left and right to strengthen the position of their party by wooing leaders and even office-bearers of other parties.
This is what has been going on in the country for several years particularly on the eve of the general election. One can go on quoting hundreds of instances of this nature as once a defector is always a defector and politician with wavering party affiliations. Though this not so commendable switching of political loyalties has been going on for years together and is in practice currently as well, this to earnest ly appeal to the electorate at large and the electronic and print media to ensure they do not vote for the political turncoats in the elections brushing aside all caste, region and other considerations and they are not given coverage in the print and electronic media at all. They owe this to develop and promote neat, clean and healthy political system in the country and strengthening the democratic system which somehow remains fragile because of these selfish and greedy elements.
—The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News) Radio Pakistan Islamabad and can be reached at [email protected]

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