THERE is so much corroborative and admitted evidence available to identify the forces who have been orchestrating regime changes and premature removal of elected leaders in Pakistan that people no more care to ask who did it and why. Former COAS General Mirza Aslam Baig in an article that he wrote during the sit-in by the duo of Imran Khan and Qadri said “The regime change through undemocratic means is nothing new for Pakistan. It has happened four times in the past through the manipulations of the nexus, called Four As – America, Army, Adliah and Allies (Political opportunists). The present day political agitation against the sitting government is aimed at regime change, through undemocratic means.” While identifying the forces behind such undemocratic and debilitating acts he also suggested that the movement by the duo was also a conspiracy to depose the elected government of Nawaz Sharif.
Though the first assault at the regime narrowly missed its target due to a variety of reasons but the consistency with which Imran Khan has been pursuing his objective and the way the things have panned out in the backdrop of Panama Leaks till the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif leave no doubt in the minds of the people (barring the supporters of the conspirators and political opponents of the government) that his exit was surely the culmination of the conspiracy that began with the sit-ins. The sudden reappearance of the Canadian based cleric and his announcement to orchestrate more sit-ins to seek justice for the model town victims, is also an ominous portent which reinforces the impression that the forces inimical to democracy could be thinking in terms of a final kill by rallying round all the disgruntled political elements, which is already quite evident by the activation of political elements like the Chaudhry’s of Gujrat for stiching together political alliances.
Whether the conglomeration of the disgruntled political elements, will succeed in achieving their objectives with the help of their string pullers or not still remains to be seen. The PML (N) notwithstanding the removal of Nawaz Sharif from power remains the most popular and strong political force in the country and if the ensuing elections are held without any interference from the praetorian powers, will undoubtedly be won by it. The outcome of NA-120 election will make the things crystal clear. The majority of the political analysts believe it will be won by the PML (N) and the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif will have no adverse impact on the fortunes of the party.
The ground realities strongly support this view. Imran Khan by indulging in politics of agitation underpinned by the syndrome of self-righteousness, abandoning his revolutionary political creed and opting for stuffing his party with turn coats and carpet baggers lost the appeal and charisma that helped him to barge onto the political landscape in the 2013 elections. Securing 32 seats was indeed an extremely good performance for a new entrant on the political scene. However his involvement in the extensively believed conspiracy to destabilize the political system also did not endear him well to the masses.
The result was that he lost all the by-elections, local body polls and the ballots in AJK. The indications are that he stands no chance even in the 2018 elections to win public franchise because he has come out as a traditional power grabber than a genuine political leader honestly wishing to change the exploitative political culture of the country. His entire focus has been on grabbing political power through hook or crook. That is the impression he has earned through the brand of politics that he has practiced over the last four years also egged on and supported by a political jester like Sheikh Rasheed.
The PPP, the other opposition party is also at the lowest ebb of its popularity. Due to its bad performance under Zardari, it was reduced to a regional party in the 2013 elections. It has no chance of staging a comeback in Punjab which determines who rules at the Centre. Even in Sindh it has a very dismal record of governance and some political observers are of the view that in the next elections it may not be able to maintain its majority even in the provincial legislative assembly. PML (N) on the other hand has a very strong claim to winning the next elections on the basis of its performance. It can rightly boast of checking the phenomenon of terrorism in its tracks; bringing normalcy in Karachi and Balochistan; initiating CPEC, termed as a game-changer by the entire world and orchestrating a turn-around in the economy ungrudgingly acknowledged by international lending and rating agencies. If party succeeds in completely eliminating the power crisis for which there is a strong possibility due to completion of power projects initiated under CPEC, its chances of winning the election would be further strengthened. The unceremonial exit of Nawaz Sharif from power will be an additional factor working in favour of PML (N).
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.