Naveed Aman Khan
General election 2018 is just a couple of days away. Pakistan is in the transformation phase. This election even before its conduct has become most controversial in the history of Pakistan. Pakistan Muslim League-N leader and three-time Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif is in jail along with his politically upcoming daughter Maryam Nawaz. Undoubtedly, Nawaz Sharif is the only heavy weight politician of Pakistan. That is why as a political phenomenon the voter is now either pro-Nawaz or anti-Nawaz. Previously, the voter had been pro-Bhutto or anti-Bhutto.
In the past, Shahbaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, Yusuf Raza Gilani, Makhdoom Javed Hashmi and many others were also sent to jail. Two-time Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had also been under house arrest. Former dictator Pervaiz Musharraf had been under house arrest for a few days. During last three decades we have seen serious political confrontation among Sharifs, Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir Bhutto, Pervaiz Musharraf and many others. These politicians have been practicing confrontational politics for their personal and political gains. They have been using atypical and immoral language against their political rivals. Pre poll controversy and manipulation has made outcome of the election unacceptable. Post election scenario looks torrential. Different politicians are using indecent language. These leaders have made youth of the nation uncivilized and violent.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf prominent genius Akbar S. Babar also rightly views that a project designed to create a fake perception about the inevitability of Imran Khan making it as Prime Minister to justify engineered Election Day results is being implemented at breath neck speed.
Most of the media houses for their own business interests are playing ball by only bringing bizarre and eccentric TV anchors and commentators who ‘Toe the Line’ on screen denying adequate media coverage to opponents of Imran Khan (killing of Syed Talat Hussein Lahore story about Return of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz on July 13 is just one example). Independent opinion has literally been eliminated from TV screens until after the election is over.
Despite the media gerrymandering, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leadership very close to Imran Khan in private conversation last night expressed their serious concern that recent political turn of events continues to erode PTI support base in Punjab at an alarming pace. Except for pockets of support in KP, they are convinced that Punjab is a lost cause. Besides the ‘Jeep Factor,’ the announcement by Pakistan People’s Party that Asif Ali Zardari would be their candidate for the premiership has sent shivers down the spine of mostly spineless Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leadership. They fear that once a fractured National Assembly is elected, PPP would only settle for a compromise candidate if PTI also settles for one – Or minus one one formula.
As Election Day nears, the widening gap between reality and the false perception being created by fake TV anchors and commentators proportionally increase the risk of ballot day stuffing. Comparisons between the 1970 and 2018 elections may be far fetched. The only similarity between the two elections may just be that the crisis before balloting only got worse after Election Day.
Nawaz Sharif might have politically gone behind the curtain because of his way of governance but pre-poll jail sentence will prove blessing in disguise for PML-N now. During last five years Maryam Nawaz proved herself as emerging prospect of PML-N. On return from London in the plane she was seen more cool and composed as compared to her father. This strength and temperament reflects her great grooming political future. Her eight-year long rigorous imprisonment will make her a very strong politician. This is an opportunity for her to learn lessons from the past and current circumstances and become a dynamic visionary leader of Pakistan. Pakistani nation does not need new Pakistan.
The nation already has it. Loyal and loving Pakistanis want to reform and strengthen it. This great nation should be made compatible to first level nations of the world. But who will make it? It is dilemma of the nation. It is true that politicians have never dealt this nation like a father. That is why they are seen using immoral and beneath dignity language in the presence of masses. Their diction has been filthy and indecent. Maryam Nawaz has the capability of bringing up of this nation on moral grounds. From jail she should maintain her contact with upcoming youth so that a spoiled youth could become useful future of Pakistan. This jail sentence will groom her as a decent leader and her statements from jail can bring socio-political change in the society. From jail statements of both father and the daughter can bring revolutionary changes in character building of the nation. Great politicians and leaders always bring revolution even from jail. Nation keeps monitoring these behaviours of the leaders. These are defining moments in the life of the country and the nation. These moments can make or break the nation. Being strong nerved leader Maryam Nawaz can do it.
Time never remains the same. Soon Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz will be among masses. From jail sentence they should learn lessons and not be revengeful. They should burry the differences for the sake of this country and the nation. These differences and immoralities have ruined Pakistan and our nation. This sentence and their way of politics can change course of our history. Both should pledge to make it. The nation is once again looking at them.
— The writer is political analyst based in Islamabad.