The gloves are coming off as the creeping coup is entering its final stage and is going for the kill. We have been told that the JIT is an extension of the Supreme Court. We already know that it’s also an extension of the premier intelligence agencies of the country that are part and parcel of the security establishment. These power connections explain the inquisition type authority of JIT, which it has used with a vengeance. But it is becoming obvious that the attack is not confined to the “corrupt” Prime Minister and his family. Its target is the entire system that has evolved over a decade or so.
Of particular concern for the forces of dictatorship is the 18th Constitutional Amendment that was aimed at cleansing the Constitution of distortions and deformations imposed on it by martial law regimes of General Zia and General Pervez Musharraf. The aforementioned forces have never reconciled with the federal democratic and parliamentary system enshrined in the 1973 Constitution. They have never hidden their love for a centralised and authoritarian presidential system. They abhor devolution of power to provinces as it is an obstacle in the way of establishing a dictatorial grip over the country. It is in this context that the recent remarks of Imran Khan (IK), as a main spokesperson of the creeping coup, should be understood. Reading out from the script IK is saying that elections under the present Election Commission will not be acceptable to his party. His party has pulled out of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral reforms which has already completed its work. Interestingly all the other opposition political parties are standing by these recommendations. But IK is hell bent upon creating the type of crises that would justify tempering with the system by the establishment.
It goes without saying that the PML-N government has also made a substantial contribution in creating the space for the interference of undemocratic forces by pushing the parliament to irrelevance during the last four years. That’s why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif isn’t able to go to Parliament and use the forum to challenge the forces that are ambushing the Constitutional system. The ruling party has so far failed to take its own rank and file into confidence, what to talk of taking opposition political parties on board. PM’s record in rallying forces of democracy is dismal to say the least. In 2014 when all political parties including the opposition parties united to defend the Constitution and democratic system the establishment changed its strategy. Starting from the MQM it tackled opposition political parties one by one and made sure that there is no one in the field for putting up a straight fight. The Panama Papers provided a golden opportunity to stage the drama of “crusade against corruption”. Judiciary, as we are informed by Mr. Javed Hashmi, the former Chairman of PTI, was already in the loop. Interestingly the Apex Court did not summon Mr. Javed Hashmi to look into the serious allegations that he has publicly leveled more than once.
The most remarkable thing during this political high drama has been the hijacking of political discourse. As we all know Pakistan is faced with serious challenges. When confronted with the question, every political leader and media network agree that terrorism poses an existential threat to Pakistan. Failure in implementing NAP is history by now. Pakistan is also regarded by many in the world as a source of spreading terrorism and there are significant moves in the US Congress for declaring it a state sponsoring terrorism. Pakistan’s relations with three out of its four neighbouring countries are in extremely bad shape. Non-inclusion of backward areas of the country in CPEC is creating heartburn and alienation in areas destroyed by terrorism. Bloodshed is continuing in Balochistan and backing out of the government from implementing FATA reforms is creating serious doubts in the minds of Pashtuns about their status in Pakistan. But all these serious issues have been totally sidelined and political discourse is monopolised by a single issue, the Panama Papers. This is the most vicious aspect of political engineering used by the establishment and exposes the real faces of the self-proclaimed super patriots.
Be that as it may, the real question in the present crises is who will rule Pakistan? The elected Parliament or the security establishment? Pakistan will have to go through a struggle to decide this question and who is better suited to raise this question than the authentic leader of the Punjabi bourgeoisie!
Writer: Afrasiab Khan Khattak
The writer is a regular contributor to THE PASHTUN TIMES. He is a retired senator and a leader of Awami National Party (ANP). He tweets @a_siab