The 2018 Elections Disconnect - BY: General Mirza Aslam Beg

imageGeneral Mirza Aslam Beg
Former COAS Pakistan
friendscolumn@hotmail.com



There is a lot of hue and cry for rigging the fair and free elections, as confirmed by Saleem Safi, in his column “Eye Witness to Elections” of 1st August. Yet, the Election Commission as well as the institutions are being blamed for staging the ‘soft coup’, favouring Imran Khan, who led the agitation from D Chowk and the streets of Pakistan, creating the disconnect between the people and the Parliament – the political power base of democracy. The catchword “corruption” was repeated so vehemently, that it got ingrained into peoples’ psyche for change. It worked and Imran Khan now is heading the leading political party of Pakistan.

The opposition parties initially decided to give Imran the taste of his own recipe, by starting country wide agitation, similar to 1976 PNA agitation which brought down PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto government, but the Peoples Party and PML(N), advised caution, suggesting that the parliament was the right forum for agitation seeking change democratically without fear of the Soft Coups turning into a hard nut. No doubt this is a wise decision to correct the disconnect between the political dynamics and the democratic values of freedom for change, to occur from within the parliament. The defining feature of the change which now has occurred, is impacting national ideological identity and the democratic culture, presenting an interesting as well as a worrying picture.

The Democratic Culture
Our Democratic Culture, now has developed on the streets, spurred by the electronic media, in form and content, debasing politics as a way of life. Not only that the whole exercise was socially divisive, but also projected wrong images of our political culture. It has also thrown-up some hard line religious parties, which themselves could win only a few seats, but did upset the political balance in some important areas, making it easy for Imran Khan’s smooth sailing. Someone rightly said: “The Captain is holding a tainted trophy. All we know is that the crazy process of election related coincidences has created a royal mess, of the sort that will not get sorted out easily.”

Ideological and Cultural Change
The emerging democratic era is going to be unique, with a veiled first lady, known for her spirituality and predictions. She has had tremendous impact on Imran Khan’s electioneering, helping to build-up his spiritual support base. This phenomenon is described by a scholar, who has known the veiled first lady, too well:

“Bushra Khan’s prophecies about Pakistan’s general elections and Imran Khan becoming a Prime Minister have proved true. These sources claim that her prediction about Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party getting 116 seats made much before the elections, has also proved correct. She is very practical and advises her husband on religious, spiritual and political issues. She was instrumental in getting Pir of Siyal Sharif, Pirs of Sultan Bahoo and even Pirs of Manki Sharif accommodated in the PTI ranks. She also won over the blessings of the Diwan (caretaker of Baba Fareed Shrine) of Pakistan, Moudeed Masood. The would-be First Lady holds sway in Barelvi and spiritual circles. She sought some sort of seat arrangement with Tehreek-e-Labaik. It was through her advice and courtesy that Imran Khan had a three-hour marathon meeting with Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, Chairman of the Ruayat-e-Hilal Committee to clear the air with Ahle-Sunnat-wal-Jamaat. Her presence has had a very positive effect on Banigala. Now Imran Khan, the would-be Prime Minister, says his prayers regularly for five times and feels purity around in the company of the newly-attained spiritual power.”

No doubt, in the recent months, Imran Khan has undergone “a complex metamorphosis, dangerously accommodative of religious trends” of shrine and peer worship, with faith in Ganda and Taweez. These are the symptoms which appear to determine the shape of Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan. He is no more the same glamorous Captain of the victorious national cricket team. In fact his is in a state of complete transformation, seeking purity of the soul in the company of his new wife, who also has emerged as his political mentor.

Having won a respectable number of national assembly seats, Imran is clamouring to win majority by wooing odd and sorts parties and groups. He is ignoring the Peoples Party, which could give him clear majority. Distancing himself from the Peoples Party is his policy blunder, and perhaps having realized the mistake, they are now reaching-out Peoples Party. Now he will be facing a strong opposition in the Parliament, playing with a thin majority, as his biggest worry. He will be heading an unstable government, spending most of his time to retain his balance, while the Senate will retard his efforts to pass new laws.

An unstable government facing such myride problems, would be in real trouble, with a strong opposition in the house attempting to bring down the government, to prove the words that “democracy is the best revenge.” The opposition has rightly decided to play the game within the assembly. They would allow Imran Khan to gain a thin majority, to get himself installed as the Prime Minister and also form his government in Punjab. And then remaining out of the reach of the ‘Khalai Makhlook’ bring him down - the democratic coups de-grace. Thus it is going to be a different Ball Game from the one, Imran Khan’s laid out the pitch at D Chowk, whereas the opposition has its pitch inside the parliament, to play not a T-20 or an ODI but a full fledged five days test match, under the gaze of the nation and not waiting for the Umpires finger. Such is the fate of Imran for making a grave policy blunder, unless his charismatic wife, succeeds to cause divine intervention, as the saving grace.

Posted on Aug 02, 18 | 1:00 am