PDM ostensibly and in reality

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Muhammad Usman

THE eleven political parties including major opposition parties have vowed to launch Pakistan Democratic Movement to oust Imran Khan under {in-}famous Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The action plan encompasses country-wide public meetings, protest demonstrations/rallies and finally, a decisive long march in Jan 2021 towards Islamabad. Ostensibly, these parties want to force Imran Khan to resign, being a selected and incompetent PM to restore undiluted democracy and rid people of ever mounting economic woes caused by his utter incompetence and mishandling before these become irreversible. This altruism is considered artificial laced with a machination to salvage their sagging fortunes if assessed in real perspective.
Imran Khan came into power as a result of 2018 elections. These could be termed one of the honest elections in country for a host of reasons. There were relatively least number of petitions filed in election tribunals by all those parties which raise hullabaloo against these elections. They failed to present even a single concrete case of rigging. This make a din bereft of conviction. Besides, there was no noticeable disquiet among masses about their conduct. Probably these were the reasons that Opposition could only make it a stunt, not an issue despite its guile and craft.
Their clamouring for provision of economic relief to people is worst form of masquerading. It is a badly refreshed act because economic crunch, being faced by people is of their creation. They left country in dire straits with no outlet except compromising on national sovereignty completely or subjecting people to hard choices. The country was barely breathing under insurmountable mountain of debt and fiscal deficits of all kinds with no prospects of sustainable growth in any field. Its financial demise was just a breath away. Its revival was a task of Herculean proportions. Government was doing a good rescue work until coronavirus pandemic stepped in, throttling its process greatly. Admittedly, government of Imran Khan has not been able to provide economic relief as imagined though unrealistically nevertheless, some of it, is direly needed. Under 18th Amendment, provinces also share burden of responsibility for provision of relief in question and performance of Sindh government under PPP, is worst. It is rather, an accomplice to worsen Atta crisis by holding back a mammoth stock of wheat maliciously.
Sugar mills are averse to sell sugar at lower prices as being demanded by them and these mills are of their top leadership. To cap it all, Opposition was a huge part of the problem, now at hand. If it possesses even scintilla of guilt/remorse, it should help government to ride over economic tribulations so that it is able to provide dire reliefs. Instead, they have chosen an opposite path. Even possibility of coronavirus, making another round could not invoke feelings of patriotism and populism among them. Chemically, they have a cruel. It is no mudslinging. They have proved it repeatedly whenever in power. They have mercilessly plundered the country, destroyed national institutions and even vitiated constitution to serve their vested interests. 18th Amendment is its subtle example. After having lost all hopes of a NRO, now they are out with all knifes because they see extinguishment of their existence in two things. Logical conclusion of ongoing accountability of their misdeeds and success of Imran Khan.
They would fight with every tooth and nail they have in their arsenal however, it is a foregone conclusion that their campaign would remain void of popular support. They may have their vote bank intact but a movement rests on mass appeal which is conspicuously absent for them. For gathering crowd, they need Maulana thus, made him their head despite his miserable rout electorally in 2018 election. His crowd is of Madaris which is essentially an unrepresentative crowd, being marooned people. For potent political protest, one needs a sizeable spirited crowd with a representative look across the country. The crowd of Mualana everywhere almost remains the same. On top of this, goodwill with cause of protestors needs to exist in majority of households in the country. This is a defining deficiency which they would try to compensate with their art of sophistry, chicanery and venality. Main campaign would be run on media and its majority is hand in gloves with them. They would freely speak lies, twist words and distort facts on media screen without fear of being countered objectively. Even media may go one step ahead to serve their interests by discriminating for them and inversely for government. It is no fiction. They have done it in past and still they do it.
Our people could easily be preyed because of their gullibility, apathy, simple-mindedness and prevalent pessimism. Our short memory is another weakness which could be capitalized upon. Achilles heel of government is hoarding and soaring prices of essential commodities. Our ruling elite is in collaboration with mafias which control their availability. Possibly these people/Sindh government may disturb their supply chain to cause further shortages/price hike. With amalgamation of all above, opposition may be able to raise a storm of chaos, confusion, uncertainty and turmoil in the country. This may not bail them out because informed people know about their macabre scheme however, this could retard efforts to revive economy and other areas of immediate/pressing need. Notwithstanding formidable challenges involved in provision of essential commodities at affordable prices, remains an exclusive responsibility of government and so far its record is dismal on this score. It needs to put its act together. Contrarily, it could cost dearly. No one has unlimited luxury of time.
— The writer, a retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.