In the last 15 days, it was an actual possibility that the Government of Imran Khan and PTI might get into trouble. One after the other all the development indicated this as a real possibility. PMLQ and MQM both started making noises about their dissatisfaction with the government. TLP was on the street for reasons best known to them and PDM came out of the ventilator to continue their rhetorical outburst and even Asif Ali Zardari started making doomsday predictions. The sequence of development, the mood in the country, the body language of the opposition, not on one-page propaganda, super active cyber teams everything pointed that something just might happen. Pakistan’s political situation is turbulent and therefore causing direct harm to its economy.
What might happen or not happen is not known to anybody. This is power politics where everyone is looking after themselves including PTI. The only person who probably is thinking Pakistan might be Imran Khan but that’s hardly material. Thinking Pakistan never benefited anyone in Pakistan and history might repeat itself. Let’s take a hypothetical view of the circumstances and discuss what might happen if Imran Khan loses power. In a hypothetical scenario where Imran Khan is thrown out either by an in-house change or an early election what is likely to happen.
This is not the first time that such a thing will happen in Pakistan
Pakistan’s political history is full of situations like that. We have had Muhammad Khan Junejo climbing the podium to take oath as Prime Minister where everyone was like Junejo who? We had Zafarullah Jamali becoming the Prime Minister when he had hardly any backing. But these two were backed by dictators who wielded unlimited power. The Pakistani establishment has a record of manipulating matters overtly or covertly in the past. So, what’s not to say that they will be able to do it from behind the scenes and can do it again?
They can do an inhouse change with few people changing their votes and making the PTI government lose vote of confidence, very easily manageable with our lot of assembly members. In a scenario like that either a second person from PTI will become Prime Minister or one of the allies will get the mantle of leadership. The first scenario is most unlikely. PTI is Imran Khan and anyone going against Imran Khan to take the slot of Prime Minister will become a political orphan.
If the PTI is divided on the basis of who becomes the Prime Minister it will lead to a total rout of the PTI in the 2023 election. PTI core leaderships understand that they know that without the charismatic leadership of Imran Khan and the aura of financial honesty that he carries, PTI loses its central sales point and can face demolition. Under the circumstances and the extreme likelihood of disaster, nobody is going to take that chance from within the PTI.
Thus, the chances of in-house PTI change are likely to remain a pipe dream.
So, what can be the alternative? The other alternative is either a national government or take over PMLN (numerically possible) or take over by PPP (numerically impossible). Considering the rancor, the hatred, the polluted atmosphere in the country there is no way in the world that they can have a consensus national government and that too minus Imran Khan. So it comes down to a takeover by PPP or PMLN. PPP has too many numerical disadvantages and that cannot be bridged. The only way for PPP to have numerical strength is to have PTI or PMLN with them. PTI will never side with PPP and PMLN can do that but not without their pound of flesh which is the office of the Prime Minister. So, the choice narrows down to PMLN taking over.
In politics or societal evolution, certain thought processes are irreversible. Just about 100 year ago, good educated & enlightened people in the USA thought that African Americans were not human. Even in the 60s, they were violently against their children studying in the same school with them, traveling in the same bus, staying in the same neighborhood. There are many examples from all over the world. South Africa is another example. The advent of democracy and acceptance is another example.
The point is that time leads to certain thought changes that cannot be reversed. Sometimes though changes like that take place naturally or sometimes with some event or movement working as a catalyst. The catalyst only reduces the time period for the change, the change that is to take place is inevitable. The thought change that has taken place in Pakistan cannot be reversed. Yes, by use of force and coercion can be artificially imposed but a reversal is something that will never happen.
PMLN takeover means Maryam Safdar working as Prime Minister and eventually the mantle of leadership passing to Junaid Safdar, Hamza Shahbaz, or any other unborn children in the house of Sharif with Shahbaz Sharif playing a supporting role. The quantum of hatred created between the establishment and the house of Sharif does not seem bridgeable. Plus, the masses, even PMLN insiders and the party now know that the house of Sharif is corrupt. Moreover, their indiscretions and trading secrets for personal use make them untrustworthy.
Why opposition can’t be trusted?
The establishment has shown much flexibility in its endeavor to retain the pound of flesh but is the red line of tolerance and acceptability crossed in relation to PMLN? I believe it is. It’s been more than 10 years that the nation has been hearing about the corruption of Sharif and Zardaris ad nauseam from all sides. The nation now has that built-in their psyche and I don’t think that it can be reversed anymore. It’s strange that despite so many Martial Laws, even surrender in breaking off one part of the country Pakistan army has always been loved by the nation. Even the MRD movement in Sindh after the judicial murder of Bhutto was not enough to create hatred for the armed forces.
Reasons are manifold including the realization that our geo-political situation requires us to be defended by strong-armed forces otherwise we will simply be eaten by the neighbors. However, at the end of Pervez Musharraf’s tenure, people claim that army men were directed not to wear uniforms in public so as not to antagonize them. After those incidents, armed forces went through a long-time appeasement exercise to win back the trust and love of the nation. Can they afford to put that online by supporting an evidently corrupt Sharif family against spotless financial integrity of Imran Khan?
The biggest problem that the country is going to face is overseas Pakistanis and educated higher middle class brought into politics by Imran Khan. An exercise of mud-slinging can even besmirch the spotless Imran Khan if not politically than a la Sita White but overseas Pakistanis have embraced a dream of corruption-free Pakistan and not only the persona of Imran Khan. There is no way in the world for them to accept Sharifs and Zardari as corruption-free anymore. That’s a major chunk of votes as well as personnel. This will lead to a total break-off.
The biggest loss will accrue to Pakistan
Any cooperation that is needed from overseas Pakistanis will not be forthcoming. Believe me in terms of statistical strength that is overwhelming. Democratic governments always need the moral high ground to govern with strong authority. That’s what gives them legitimacy and that’s what all dictators want when they either go into election or send a proxy there. The loss of moral high ground can be devastating for any government and for a government running on a shoestring budget can be fatal.
This will also lead to embarrassing situations all over the world where the Pakistani government will face demonstrations and a hostile diaspora. The higher middle class educated and enlightened who came into politics for the first time in the history of Pakistan will retreat back into the shell and abandon politics. Good news for the mafia and criminals rife in politics but bad news for democracy.
The corruption-ridden society, the bribe infested government department, the power-drunk police, the colluding establishment, the sharifs, the Bhutto-Zardaris, the Bhutto-Chaudharys, the china cutting, another Altaf in Karachi, the thug lawyers, the urban daku raj, the ethnic division, the wheeling and dealing, the selling of Pakistan, the appeasement of India, the sycophancy of USA everything will come back. We have to understand that it’s not the responsibility of Imran Khan to stop it, he is but a person. The nation needs to decide what they want. It will be very easy now to distort history and make it a victory for democracy but remember history is very cruel and the nation might get dumped into the dustbin of history.
The author has worked for Unilever for 25 years. He is a professional translator/interpreter of five languages and is also a certified computer trainer. He is currently living in Virginia, USA. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.