Who knows what tomorrow may herald
The Avenfield apartments, for which a Prime Minister was jailed, are a happening place right now. Former Premier Nawaz Sharif is there, getting tested and treated for his mysterious ailment. His opponents, who were demanding that a money trail be shown for the apartments, once in government, claimed that they will not let any of the former rulers leave the country under any deal.
Once Nawaz Sharif was given permission to leave the country by the judiciary, his opponents appeared baffled and bewildered. Two ministers branded the verdict ‘government’s victory’. A baffled cabinet had trouble echoing this narrative. Fawad Chaudhry even asked of the two aforementioned ministers, “How is this our victory?”
The Prime Minister reappeared after a two-day sojourn at home to inaugurate the Mansera Motorway, visibly angry at the turn of events. Calling out almost all opposition leaders by name, he ridiculed them, even going so far as to mimic Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Then he turned towards the judiciary, asking the incumbent Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and the incoming Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed to ensure that the poor and the rich are answerable to the same laws. In a sharply worded rebuke the very next day, CJ Khosa reminded the Prime Minister that the court had merely set the terms of the agreement; the government had already allowed Nawaz Sharif to leave the country.
Thus ended the attempt to bring the judiciary on the ‘same page’ as the powerful quarters. In fact, had the CJ not responded, even then Imran Khan was not setting a good precedent. Indeed, the executive and the judiciary are two pillars of the state but they must not become one. Any impression that the judiciary is on the ‘same page’ as the government will lead to harming the judiciary’s image.
Because it was that type of a week, Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Retired Justice Javed Iqbal also made a public appearance and threw in another spanner in the works. While addressing NAB officers, he heralded the ‘winds of change’ and said that NAB had been accused of being partisan, but the watchdog institute will now work to dispel that image. “No one should think that the ruling party is without blemish, we are about to start on another front,” he ominously said and then mentioned Peshawar BRT and the Pakistan Cricket Board in the same breath.
The winds of change are indeed blowing, and one proof of that came from Law Minister Farogh Naseem’s mouth. Granting amnesty to sick prisoners, he said that were Pakistan People’s Party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari to apply for permission for treatment abroad, it would be considered.
Pakistan Muslim League- Quaid (PML-Q) leader Pervez Elahi also read the signs well and said, in so many words, that change is on the horizon. Members of parliament of both the PML-Q and the PML-N are geared up to climb aboard the ship that is cursing towards power.
As for Maulana Fazlur Rehman, he has dumped plan B and is now onto plan C which involves holding rallies at the district level. He is being taunted with claims of having failed, but his confidence bellies that. Addressing his followers at the Indus Highway in Bannu, Maulana said that the government’s roots have been cut; its foundations are shaky. “Start counting down the days,” he thundered. “We did not go to Islamabad without reason, we have not come back from there without reason.”
Who, or what, gave the JUI-F chief this confidence? Time will tell, but meanwhile the economic conditions of the country are painting a bleak picture on their own. One report has said that about a million Pakistanis have become jobless in the past year, and the same number will be unemployed by the end of the current fiscal year. Inflation has wreaked havoc with 20% of the country’s poorest people. A stalled economy is impacting almost all strata of society equally.
Even if the winds of change do not blow, there is no denying that the populace is near breaking point. Desperation could lead to mass scale protests. If the opposition, quiet for now for their own benefits and reasons, does not start protesting, the people surely could. The world is witnessing multiple revolutions and protests that are being carried out without a leader in charge. What can one say except to warn the wise ones, learn before it is too late!
So what will happen in our political world in the coming few weeks? When the people became disappointed with the PPP’s performance, they voted in the PML-N. When PML-N buckled under the pressure of the Panama scandal and the directors of tabdeeli , the promise of change reigned supreme. And now that promise has soured, turned into a nightmare.
Were a new system be sworn in by hidden negotiations between the various centers of powers, no change will benefit the ordinary man. Proponents of compromise will also have to learn their lesson that their formulas just don’t work. Chaudhry Pervez Elahi’s recent interview pretty much laid bare the ugly truth about the ruling party: the captain who has accused others of riding onto powerful shoulders to the treasury benches is himself the chairman of a party that is equally tainted with the same brush.
Finally, former Chief of Army Staff and Dictator Pervez Musharaf might be handed a verdict by the Supreme Court on November 28. Far more interesting than the decision it will be the analysis given by those who were partners in crime with him. Interestingly, the government lawyer in the PTV attack case has, instead of opposing Imran Khan’s appeal to remove his name from the case, wholeheartedly supported it.
And thus, whosoever comes into power is interested only in finishing the cases that have been filed against him or her.
For anyone who still harbors hope with this government despite its performance, one can only say that they must believe the message as well as the messenger.
This article first appeared in Daily Dunya in Urdu.