With disqualification of Nawaz Sharif in Panama case, a raft of conspiracies theories spawned and followed in breathless succession even overlapping each other. As usually, convenient villain was establishment with judiciary as a pawn in their hands to derail democracy in the country. Under superficial charge of Iqama, Nawaz Sharif was targeted because he was not the stuff to be cowed down. He is a staunch democrat and taking the country to newer heights at herculean speed. The derailment of Senate elections was also an alleged mischief because these were to give PML (N) a majority in upper house to strengthen its hands to pursue cause of democracy and prosperity more vigorously.
The Senate elections have been held strictly as per scheduled without any suspense or drama. It was as smooth sailing as was known to clear eyed people, much prior to their conduct. The doubts heaped on hapless/simpleminded people by miller of conspiracy theories were baseless, false and mischievous and proved so to the hilt in elections. Instead of feeling any pang of remorse or guilt by people like Ahsan Iqbal and Maryam Nawaz, hastened to term smooth conduct of elections, a defeat to conspirators and a batch of honor to their MPs for ushering a change in tradition; remaining loyal with Nawaz Sharif despite intimidation and buffet of pressures. This is far disconnected from reality. There was no change of any kind in traditions. It was all dirt. There was no change except in its intensity and range which were now far more. In words of a renowned journalist “dirt accumulated in Karachi city pales in comparison to dirt seen in Senate elections”.
The candidates thrown to aghast house were handpicked by powerful party heads to include cronies, absconders, known for notoriety and bootblacks. The Senate is a house known for sagacity, expertise and candid opinion because it is chemically free of public opinion. Precisely for this reason, constitutionally it is kept out of traditional electoral process which has its own limitations. Political machinations/horse trading was all pervasive, sky high and free for all. In former category, it was PML (N) which outmatched others. In latter category, it was Mr 100% who was at his Machiavellian best in Sind, Balochistan and KP. Independents were also no less behind in content and form. All this would render no service to democracy rather, impedes its nourishment to maturity.
In all this exercise, one thing was conspicuous; no meddling from outside. It was all between Election Commission and contesting parties/individuals albeit decision of Election Commission to declare candidates of PML (N) as independent was devoid of election rules and morality. It was a favor to contestants, not a punishment for asking and accepting candidature from a man who has been debarred by apex court. PML (N) is not big enough to take and accept things in right strides gracefully. In reality, it was no difficult task to disturb their hollow apple cart. It is no far-fetched idea because this is their history. They change the place if it offers pasture greener. PML (N) is not a party of crusaders. It is a party of sycophants. The Sharif brothers are also no exception. The anxiety of Muslim leaguers also peaks when they hear stories of both brothers running from pillar to post behind doors in search of an NRO.
Their deal with Musharraf for refuge in Saroor palace at Jeddah and recent unexplained visit of both to Saudi Arab, could not be conveniently overlooked. They could leave them midstream. Moreover, popularity of Sharif brothers is largely synthetic. It has been crookedly built around phony development and wrong done to Nawaz Sharif under state patronage. Its artificially inflated balloon could burst in general elections when PML (N) would be no more in government or when court decisions would come in corruption cases against Sharif family. These all appear to be open and shut cases and court decisions are just around the corner.
Notwithstanding their claims, PML (N) stands today as fragile as never before but there is no evidence of fishing by anyone in its trouble waters. Senate elections were yet another example. With uninterrupted conduct of Senate elections, one thing is clear that general elections would also take place on time. The chance of level playing field to all is also getting brighter with each passing moment which is an anathema to our ruling elite. They are only used to a playing field, heavily lopsided in their favour. They are crying full throttle to limit of antagonizing. The case in point is non-stop diatribe against Judiciary. There is no dearth of voices which accuse them of instigating roll back of system for sake of their own salvation. Latest voice is of Aitzaz Ahsan when he delivered his farewell address in Senate. It implies that Sharifs are creating space for a dictator to overthrow democratic setup however, dust kicked off on horizon is of truth on March in Pakistan.
— The writer, retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.