Emerging vortices: Will Pakistan sail through in 2020?

By Rafiq Jan

There is hardly any country like Pakistan in recent times that has been ridden roughshod by the incessant domestic as well as diplomatic tumults. A country famous for being in the news for all the wrong reasons finds herself in the choppy waters yet again!

The debutant leadership in Islamabad had been doing its utmost to stonewall a multitude of daunting issues appearing back to back since its very inception but, unfortunately, that didn’t help much in mitigation of its predicaments. The space it finds in those respites has always been too short-lived for them to reflect.

The country has witnessed an unfortunate pattern of events in recent months. Increasing demands of PM Khan’s resignation by all the opposition parties have been gaining momentum since a low-profile dharna (sit-in) by religious zealot Maulana Fazal ur Rehman. Since then, the PPP and PMLN senior leadership, plausibly at the brink of extinction, is desperately trying to use all the available tactical warfare they can to regain a breathing space in an otherwise suffocating atmosphere created for them by the incumbents. They are justifiably concerned about their fate and the political survival which looks bleak under the prevailing scenario.

The most recent unexpected move by supreme court’s out-going chief justice dropped two bombshells on the PTI Government by:

Firstly, challenging the re-appointment of the Army Chief and raising questions on the authority and prerogatives of the country’s chief executive, the PM, and

Secondly, in a span of just two days released the verdict on Ex-Army Chief Pervaiz Musharraf’s criminal case which was phrased in harsh language.

Both those rulings were allegedly made to create a dent in an apparently strong and cordial professional relationship between the institutions. It was also meant to bolster the pride of crestfallen PPP and PMLN leadership who feel as if they’re being sidelined.

The government, now battle-hardened after successfully dodging many opposition attacks, seems to have handled this unprecedented issue tactfully. PM Khan, being able to think on his feet, has shown an incredible leadership resilience to avoid confrontation.

The stand-off between the country’s supreme judiciary and the government was unprecedented in the history of 70 years. This confrontation was ignited after almost 15 months of love and hate relationship between both, but it surfaced at an inopportune time when the whole nation needs to buck up its army in the wake of the tense border situation. This unscrupulous step by the highest judiciary was obviously the brainchild of a powerful opposition leader who had been waiting for a proper time to attack the government through the out-going Chief Justice and target the country’s legal system for personal gains and satisfaction.

The ongoing political and judicial crises will otherwise lead to lasting harm to institutions strategically important for the country.

Democracy cannot flourish when judiciary and military, the mainstays of a country, are at war with each other. It is by far a serious threat, like never before, to the federation of the state in its entire history. When a country’s government, judiciary and military are divided in opposing camps and everyone considers other an enemy instead of adversary the results are usually preordained. We are in the middle of extreme partisan politics and if this battle continues for some more time the losers will be none but the voters.

PM Khan, once a staunch supporter of an independent judiciary, looks in good spirits despite the latest spate of confrontation between his government and the Apex court. Amidst the jabs and counterpunches, his body language is in complete rhythm with what’s cooking in his mind.

However, the poisonous political atmosphere in Islamabad has overshadowed Pakistan’s diplomatic achievement of joining Turkey and Malaysia to form a new Muslim Bloc. Although it faces some temporary roadblocks relevant to our own weaknesses, nevertheless, this must become a reality with the willingness and support of all political parties and people of Pakistan to drive this initiative in the larger interest of the country.

The need of the hour for all the political parties is to find common ground if they’re all honest in deciding a progressive roadmap for a prosperous Pakistan. But common grounds involve compromises in which one can easily get exploited by extraneous factors. But it still takes a big heart and courage for politicians to compromise for the sake of moving the country forward even if it requires giving in on important issues.

Finally, it falls on PM khan to walk an extra mile in finding a shared sense of mission, and that gesture exacts the actions that are much deeper, courageous and complicated than looking for common grounds and compromises. For, he holds the reins of power in his hands it is incumbent upon him to start building bridges between political territories to save the federation, even if doing so may sound unpopular.

Rafiq Jan is a Qatar based freelance writer and blogger.

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