Politics, more politics

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A friend is visiting from London and our home has been witness to incessant discussions about what may or may not happen in the country through the coming days, weeks and months and, more particularly, PTI’s chances in any future dispensation in the wake of its impressive showing at the Lahore rally. Let me begin with one unanimous commonality that marked all these interactions among people from divergent backgrounds: PTI had arrived as a formidable player on the political chessboard that other outfits will have to contend with.

Seldom have I seen one single instance reshaping and redefining the course of politics like the PTI Lahore rally has done. Things have changed irreversibly since October 30. A party that was considered a mere presence has become a formidable political force and what was passed off as wishful idealism has suddenly assumed the status of tangible agenda everyone is interested in knowing more about. What a virtual political ‘outcast’ did on that eventful day has also become the yardstick to measure others’ performance. One’s mind races back to the sixties and the seventies and the enthusiasm of those times that, unfortunately, was never realised. There are also cynics who, while drawing comparisons with those heady days, don’t forget to cloud the prospects as being centred on the person of one individual.

But, while making the comparison, they forget that the individual they are talking about has never failed on his dreams and ideals, be it his cricketing career, or his cancer hospital, his forays into the education sector or his philanthropy. In the process, he has earned impeccable credibility that cannot be matched by any member of the corrupt political mafias that have ravaged this country for all of its sixty-four years.

War against corruption remains an integral component of the PTI drive for change. What is grotesque is the manner in which some of the major political players and their hired lieutenants are trying to trivialise this mother of all evils. Even the most corrupt of them have come out brazenly to support the PTI demand that all political leaders should declare their assets as an essential requirement for claiming eligibility to contest the polls claiming that they had already done so at the time of the last elections. But the fact that their declared assets may not even be a negligible fraction of their real assets causes no compunction as the heads of these political mafias continue to stake their claim to their ill-gotten right to lead this country. Apparently, this is no longer going to work as the media and PTI have raised the level of consciousness to a level where such false pretensions are bound to boomerang.

I also believe that there is a heightened level of desperation that is creeping into the manner most of the ruling mafias and their stalwarts are behaving in public. While they are reluctant to come up with straight answers to piercing questions, they don’t stop repeating stale arguments even when they have been adequately responded to. While it may not help these proponents to score any brownie points with the people, it may contribute to further perpetuating a crisis of credibility that has been building ever since the time the incumbent concoctions took charge at the centre and in all the provinces. Their lack of performance and delivery has rendered them toothless in terms of laying any claim on their right to rule. That is why there is this visible desperation that may eventually provoke recourse to undemocratic means and methods to prolong their hold on power and its various instruments.

But there are a lot of other things happening too, like the President promising the visiting US Congressmen that he would “eradicate the Haqqani network”. Measure this against the Joint Resolution of the All Parties Conference that had resolved that it was time to “give peace a chance”. Is it the NRO talking? On the one hand, the President does not tire of repeating the human and material losses that Pakistan has suffered through its espousal of the US-led ‘war-on-terror’ while, on the other hand, he does not shy away from reiterating his allegiance to his US masters. Where is the real President? Is he there somewhere at all? While the US is not relenting in its belligerent tirade against the Pakistan military and the ISI with someone or the other from their top political and military hierarchy pouring venom with monotonous frequency, it is the Pakistani President who is seen bending over backwards to cater to the ill-conceived perceptions and demands of the American leadership. Where does Pakistan come into this, or does it come in at all?

It is Pakistan that seems to be at the receiving end of a lot of bargaining that is being incessantly struck among the traditional beneficiaries of the status quo. While each beneficiary may differ with the other in terms of the nature and quantum of his or her share, there is a general consensus among all regarding the need to continue sponsoring and promoting a corrupt and degenerate system that is neither equipped nor geared to delivering anything other than what it has done through all the years that Pakistan has been there: crafting appropriate tools for a corrupt leadership to continue their loot spree. In the process, the institutions that provide the pillars on which the state edifice is built have crumbled. Imran and PTI stand for reversing that. That’s why there is this lurking fear among the beneficiaries of the system. That’s why there is this desperation for thwarting the prospect of the impending change.

The writer is a political analyst and a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. He can be reached at [email protected]