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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Politics of brinkmanship: The making of new political legitimacy crisis in Pakistan?

PTI’s allies are ‘demanding’ even at the cost of an unexpected political legitimacy crisis in the country. There are various examples from the Middle East where legitimacy crisis destroyed both order and peace in society. Is Pakistan likely to experience serious legitimacy crisis because of politicians’ relentless struggle to become all-powerful?

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) continues to face ‘warnings’ and ‘extortion’ by its allies. Experts and academics in Pakistan believe that pressure on the government may prove counterproductive due to the existing economic, security and political challenges. More importantly, the regional security situation is deteriorating as India is perpetually turning from a secular state to a hyper-fascist Hindu regime with a political program to be achieved through military might.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) convener Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on Sunday announced that he was resigning from his post as Minister for Information Technology. He criticized the federal government for not performing and delivering up to the mark. However, Dr. Maqbool said that his party was not abandoning the PTI government despite its reservations. Political analysts believe that the MQM-P wanted to convey a strong message to the government, and that has successfully been done.

Pakistan Muslim League-Q’s (PML-Q) Tariq Bashir Cheema, Housing Minister, also indicated that he is parting ways with the cabinet by not attending its meeting on Tuesday.

Chief Minister of Punjab Usman Buzdar is meeting a delegation of the Q-League on Wednesday (today) to remove grievances of the PTI’s ally.

Read more: Will MQM-P get more ministries in PM Khan’s cabinet?

Moreover, Prime Minister Imran Khan has formed a committee of his party’s leaders, headed by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, to meet the ‘annoyed’ government allies — MQM, PML-Q and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) — to address their concerns. A meeting between the government team and BNP leaders is also taking place on Wednesday (today) in the federal capital.

There is a widely held perception that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s Fazlur Rehman was assured by the establishment that the government shall not complete its tenure. He was advised to “wait and see”. PML-Q shall demand ‘more’ or will withdraw its support, sources told GVS.

Read more: PTI led coalition government or PML-N+PPP coalition government?

Aitzaz Ahsan, former Senator, and prominent lawyer told Dr. Moeed Pirzada in a talk show, Hard Talk Pakistan, that “Imran Khan has only one ally and he can work until and unless he is at good terms with him”. Mr. Ahsan was alluding to the army chief who is considered to be the most powerful man in Pakistan. But when Dr. Pirzada asked “then why is Khan not feeling ‘safe’ or ‘certain’ about the future of his government,” Mr. Ahsan’s reply was witty. “’ He’ does not want Khan to be stable because if he does, Khan will start talking about how and why Sharifs went to London,” he said.

In a separate video blog, Dr. Pirzada maintained that those testing the government and putting pressure to gain their political interests must remember the capacity of the system. “A system functions if it has internal or external legitimacy. As far as Pakistan is concerned, I am convinced to note that there is little external legitimacy therefore we need internal legitimacy to let the system function,” he said. He quoted the example of Turkey where internal legitimacy gives the president enough confidence that he is able to single-handedly counter all the external anti-Turkey forces.  Dr. Pirzada also noted that those pressurizing the government must remember how far can they go? What will happen if the system collapses?

Dr. Mughees Ahmed, Assistant Professor at Department of Pakistan Studies, Government College University, Faisalabad, believes that “legitimacy means the popular perception on the part of large numbers of people that the government, its leaders, and its policies are valid, right, just and worthy of support. A political regime is legitimate when it is accepted by the majority of its citizens as of right and proper enough to be obeyed in most instances”.

An unexpected crisis of legitimacy may lead to political chaos and economic failure.

Political commentators warn political parties and the PTI’s government to be careful in a situation where India is under the complete control of BJP.  India’s new army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Saturday said that if the Indian parliament approves, the Indian army will move to claim Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), according to reports in the Indian media. Speaking to media in New Delhi, Gen Naravane claimed that a parliamentary resolution stated that the “entire erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir” — a reference to the region including AJK — is part of India.

Pakistan’s political elite is, therefore, expected to take into consideration all the factors before taking any step to gain personal political interests.