Is the PTI Government settle in the saddle or…..?
The government, no matter how strongly it is settled in the saddle, cannot afford to open many fronts at the same time. And if it does, it means either it is losing ground or it lacks the wisdom to handle a deteriorating situation. Such is the scenario that the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) government is facing these days without a clue as to how could it surmount the pressure it is having from all sides.
The Opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is being re-activated with Mian Shehbaz Sharif now out of the prison and holding meetings after meetings with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) President has already approached the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his father Asif Ali Zardari to review their decision to quit the PDM. At the same time, he has contacted the leadership of the Awami National Party (ANP) to rejoin the political alliance.
The PML-N president’s efforts could not borrow fruits so far even though JUI chief Maulana Fazl has categorically stated the doors of the PDM were still opened provided the PPP and ANP meet the pre-conditions. The PPP point-blank refused on the pretext that it has not requested rejoining the PDM.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, undermining the PDM’s pressure, set aside any possibility of negotiation with the Opposition Alliance and interestingly alleged that his political foes were begging the security institutions to topple his government. He went on to say: “The corrupt mafia which calls itself a democratic force is seeking Army’s intervention to topple the government”.
Imran Khan has, since taking over the reins of the government, shouting at full throttle of his voice that he would hold previous rulers accountable for plundering the national wealth ruthlessly. “I will fill jails with these corrupt elements and would not give them any NRO.” In political circles, there is a general impression that the Prime Minister has been using the institution of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as a tool to keep the Opposition on the backfoot.
But the use of NAB to silence his opponents has failed to bring desired results because the prosecution has failed to prove any case against any of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader including Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz, Kh Asif, Kh Saad Rafiq, his brother Kh Salman, Rana Sanaullah, Javed Latif, Fawad Hassan Fawad, and Ahad Cheema.
The Pakistan People’s Party, the second-largest political entity, has also suffered at the hands of NAB by facing cases after cases with none of them proved in the courts. At least four attempts of the PTI have failed to deprive the PPP of ruling Sindh at the pretexts of prevailing law & order situation, loot & plunder, shortage of drinking water, removal of garbage from the city of Karachi, etc. These attempts also include a desire to impose the Governor’s Rule under Article 149 of the Constitution. The PTI also made an alliance with the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) to achieve a change of government within the Sindh Assembly.
The Opposition alleges that NAB Chairman was acting like a one-eyed Jack launching a witch hunt against the political opponents of the ruling party. Those sitting under the umbrella of the government are safe but even though there are criminal charges against them and references pending execution, NAB is not touching them. According to the Opposition, this was the Prime Minister’s double standard.
But the greatest of all pressure was the creation of a Jehangir Tareen-led group within the PTI that has 30 members of the Punjab Assembly and nearly a dozen of members of the National Assembly led by Raja Riaz. They had a power show both in Islamabad and Lahore hosting dinners and addressing press conferences using harsh language against the PTI’s top leadership and threatening to boycott the Federal Budget proceedings in the lower house.
One must compliment the Prime Minister who did not budge to the pressure and declared in categorical terms that he would not spare anyone who has looted the national wealth even if they belong to his party or have been very dear to him. With backdoor political activity including the invisible support from the security institutions, Imran Khan came out of this mess without losing his face. He was still handling this Tareen Group that another 15 members of the Punjab Assembly got together and expressed reservations over the performance of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and demanding Imran Khan to look into this matter urgently.
One is forced to believe that Imran Khan has handled such a precarious situation with courage and without budging from his oft-repeated claim that he would make looters and plunderers accountable even if his government collapses.
Is the political situation going to relax in the coming days or not is a hundred million dollars question? On the one hand, the PDM is flexing its muscles to re-launch its struggle to send the PTI regime packing while on the other hand, the establishment and the ruling elite are not on the same page as is often claimed.