Some overtures needing interpretation

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 05:43 PM, 24 Feb, 2021
Some overtures needing interpretation

A prominent anchorperson who also writes regular columns for an Urdu language newspaper wrote a few days ago that a ‘powerful person’ of the country phoned former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in London and asked about his health condition.

The ‘powerful person’ was not named although everyone in the country can speculate who it could be. 

The London-based leader, whose passport has already been revoked by the government and who has also been declared absconder by courts, was advised by the powerful person to focus on his health as everything else has no importance compared to life. 

According to the write-up the response from the other side was not enthusiastic. 

Probably the powerful person mentioned in the column is the same against whom Nawaz Sharif had declared a war a few months ago and held him responsible for his disqualification and ouster from power.

It is not clear whether the phone call was made just on humanitarian grounds or was aimed at improving ties with the former premier.

In another development dissident JUI leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmed claimed in a statement that powers that be have reached some understanding with PPP leader and former president Asif Ali Zardari.

A former spokesman to JUI Amir Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Hafiz Hussain is supposed to be an informed politician, especially now when he must have contacts with the quarters that can be helpful for him to carry forward his future plans. (Some important JUI leaders who also recently parted ways with Maulana Fazlur Rehman after levelling serious allegations against him are also working out their future course of action). 

Some people say that PML-N leaders’ attacks on the establishment are no longer intense as they used to be. 

Maryam Nawaz, the de facto head of the PML-N, said in a recent speech that the ‘selectors’ should be careful in future and should not bring to power a man incapable and ineligible like Imran Khan. 

The change in her tone and a hint to forget the bitterness of the past was very clear.

Punjab PML-N President Rana Sanaullah Khan, who loses control over his tongue while speaking against opponents, said in a recent statement that the establishment played ‘no’ role in the Daska by-election, a seat where poll became controversial because of the mysterious disappearance of the polling staff of 20 polling stations along with the vote bags. (Both the PTI and the PPP are claiming victory on the seat which had fallen vacant because of the death of a PML-N leader. However, the Election Commission of Pakistan is yet to announce whether polling will be held afresh in the entire constituency or in the 20 polling stations whose results could have been changed by vested interests during their disappearance). 

Former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said while talking to reporters that the establishment appears to be ‘neutral’ in the Senate elections, scheduled for March 3. Needless to recall that his party – PPP –calls Imran Khan a ‘selected’ prime minister and uses the euphemism of ‘selectors’ for the establishment. 

The sudden change in the tone of the opposition parties is very significant.  

There are many who think that Chief Election Commissioner’s stance in the Supreme Court that under the Constitution the Senate elections have to be held through secret ballot is very meaningful, especially when the PTI government is advocating open balloting for the sake of transparency. In our setup the ECP’s stance is always in line with the incumbent government’s policy.

All these developments are difficult to ignore. They may be indicative of some change on the political scene. However, since there is no final word in politics, the situation may take an unpredictable turn in the times ahead. 

Whatever may happen on the political horizon all political parties have established beyond doubt their incapability to hold free and fair elections.

Parties in the Pakistan Democratic Movement have been demanding fresh elections in the country as those staged in 2018, that brought Imran Khan to power, had been ‘rigged’.

But so far the parties in the opposition alliance have failed to identify electoral reforms needed to make the new elections acceptable to all parties. In fact the opposition and the ruling PTI are not even in contact with each other on this subject of vital importance. 

This means if by any miracle fresh elections are held without carrying out necessary reforms, they would be as controversial as were those held in the past. 

Not many people know that the incumbent CEC is the son-in-law of a bureaucrat who was deputy commissioner Lahore when Nawaz Sharif became the Punjab chief minister for the first time and was his principal secretary when he was the prime minister.

In our political culture such links play an important role in directing things.

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.