Beware IK and PTI, there is something fishy-fishy in the air!
Be that remarks of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmad regarding the presidential reference seeking apex court’s opinion in the context of open ballot in Senate elections, the Chief Election Commissioner’s decision ordering re-election in NA-75 Daska or the oft-repeated stance of the DG ISPR claiming that the Army is not involved in politics, the ground realities are fast-changing for both Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as the ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI).
This question is being asked in the political circles as well as in the TV talk shows and print media editorials, respectively. One of the analysts quipped saying: “Whenever a Pakistani ruler visits Sri Lanka something hilarious happens”. His apparent reference was the former army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf’s visit to this SAARC country and he was on his return journey to Pakistan, former premier Nawaz Sharif was ill-advised to sack him and instead installed badges of Chief of Army Staff to the then Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence, Gen Ziauddin Butt.
His argument was that the visit to Sri Lanka did not augur well with our rulers adding that until the Prime Minister boarded his flight to Colombo on Feb 23, all seemed well in the "State of Demark’. In less than 24 hours, events proved that many sensitive issues were shaped up in such a manner that the PTI started losing on many fronts. Does it mean that the PTI is being betrayed by the Establishment mainly because there has been a great deal of pressure generated by the 11-party Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) led by Maulana Fazalur Rehman?
But some are of the view that bad governance and sky-rocketing prices have played a major role in the change of the heart among those who were either called "selectors", who were accused of rigging the 2018 elections massively paving the way for Imran Khan to settle in the saddle of the premiership. There have been allegations of pre-poll rigging as well when a large number of elected representatives were forced to change their loyalties and join the PTI, courtesy Jahangir Tareen.
The process of shifting loyalties ended up having various power centres in the largest province of Punjab about which there is a proverbial saying: “Governing Punjab is governing two-third of Pakistan,” many because of its enormous resources and the size of its population. The people of this province remained calm on two counts. Firstly, they believed all the tall claims and slogans of Imran Khan making a New Pakistan converting it into a replica of Riasat-e-Madinah and secondly, they were not happy with the leadership of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the wake of the Panama scandal and the campaign spearheaded by Imran Khan holding massive rallies in major cities trumpeting the alleged corrupt practices of the PML-N regime.
The Senate elections in Punjab have raised several eyebrows with some terming it a ‘Muk Muka’ (deal) because all candidates of the archrival parties have won unopposed. The trickiest situation being is the election of Pakistan Muslim League (Q)’s candidate Kamil Ali Agha despite the fact that his party did not have the required number of votes.
Who managed this understanding among the PTI and the PML-N appears to be the power that be. One may term them as Establishment, third force or Khilai Makhlooq, the consequences of such a deal would be visible on March 3 at the time of contest between Yousaf Raza Gilani and the sitting Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh. Wait for five more days to see!
Another important issue is what next after the CEC has declared the Daska election null and void. The PTI that has been vouching to accept the CEC’s decision in letter and spirit is now talking of going to adopt a legal course, most likely to go in appeal against the verdict in Supreme Court.
In addition to declaring the polling illegal, the CEC has issued strict orders to transfer many senior officers depriving them of polling duty in the future and many have been suspended for being guilty of serious negligence to perform their duty.
For obvious reasons, the PML-N leadership was over the moon after the ECP short order. But they too have to put their house in order. What if the repolling results in the election of the PTI candidate? The PTI stalwarts including Usman Dar committed the violations, and the PML-N was not behind as well. PML-N leaders Ahsan Iqbal and Rana Sanaullah were also seen sitting at the polling stations.
The Prime Minister must be a very worrisome person since there are voices of dissent coming from within the PTI in Punjab, KP, Sindh and Balochistan be that defeat in Nowshera elections, the award of Senate tickets in Karachi and Quetta. He has to act fast before the divide gets deeper.