From the uproar and turmoil in Islamabad, a lot of good has surfaced. Whatever may have been said about the conspiracies and the “umpire”, the fact remains that there has been no military coup although after the 30th August attack on parliament’s premises and the later takeover of the PTV quarters, enough was on the ground to tempt the guardians to bring in another spell of military rule.
Despite Imran Khan’s stubborn resolve and unending harangues from the container-top, Nawaz Sharif remains at the helm and Shah Mahmood Qureshi was seen acknowledging the sanctity of the same parliament which Imran had repeatedly dubbed as jaali (fake). Again, as I write these lines, yet another round of talks between PTI and the opposing political parties are scheduled to be held.
Does Imran realise that he has already achieved quite a lot? Except for the Prime Ministers’ resignation, all his demands have been substantially met. A well represented parliamentary committee is already working to propose electoral reforms, thereby ensuring that the next elections will definitely be held, hopefully fairly and freely. PTI is a participant in the committee’s deliberations. A highest – level judicial commission is expected to probe into the allegations of rigging in the 2013 elections. Guarantees through various mechanisms are being worked out to ensure that there will be no interference on the part of the government in the process undertaken by the commission. Also that the assemblies will be resolved and new elections held if the charge of wide-spread rigging is substantially established.
With all these gains, Imran should have called off his “dharnas”.
A word about the damage Imran has suffered. He certainly overplayed his hand. Some of the bluster and language used by him has exposed a lack of responsibility and a sense of propriety befitting a mature politician. His party’s dubious mix-up with “Sheikh ul Islam” too, has not added to his stature.
Even if a quarter of the charges – open and veiled – leveled by his party president Javed Hashmi are correct, there is much for him to answer to. It is alleged that he is wont to side - line advice from his colleagues and is prone to be arbitrary in taking and announcing decisions. Hashmi says that he violated the consensus understanding arrived at in the Core Committee, not to march ahead towards the parliament and the Prime Minister’s house. Imran’s gleeful rush to meet the army chief and repeated references to the “umpire” have further lowered his standing.
There is much for Imran to review and redress. He has to learn to curb his impatience to grab power and follow the approach and procedures set by the constitution and democratic norms. He needs to resist the urge to immediately believe in whatever is dished out to him and which he finds useful to demonise his opponents and rivals. He needs to examine the difference between the circumstantial and the substantial evidence before he comes to a firm conclusion about the accuracy or otherwise of the charges leveled by him.
Imran certainly has emerged a formidable leader with the charisma, guts and strength to launch and sustain a movement. Chastened and seasoned, he would indeed be a great asset to his party and the country.
As things stand today, it is a safe bet that Pakistan will emerge from the current crisis, uplifted and to a considerable extent, strengthened.
It has been quite a surprise to see how vigorously almost all the political parties have stood with the Prime Minister and demonstrated determination to safeguard the Constitution. They not only came to the rescue of Nawaz Sharif but also resoundingly defended and safeguard the sanctity and sovereignty of the parliament.
Remarkable speeches were made on the floor of the house. Bizenjo and Achakzai emerged as stalwart guardians of parliamentary democracy. Ahsan Iqbal highlighted the stand taken by PML(N) and exposed the recklessness and follies of PTI and PAT. Tahir ul Qadri, he pointed out, talks of a “bloody revolution when he talks in Urdu medium and of peace and Constitution while speaking in the English medium.”
Aitzaz’s speech was a masterly performance. While upholding the supremacy of the parliament, he unhesitatingly denounced the weaknesses and defaults of the ruling party. It is worthwhile to quote Raza Rabhani from his eloquent address focusing on the battle for power between the institutions. Said Rabhani, “I do not agree with the remarks that were made on Wednesday that the parliament is victorious as I think that the battle is still continuing and those who think this was the first or last attack on the parliament are wrong; this is a war for the Federation… We will not compromise even if the government did.” He asked the politicians to “wake-up” and said that the “reality is that the balance of power is not in Islamabad but in Rawalpindi.”
In all this mayhem and hullabaloo, the worst sufferers are the PML(N) government in the Punjab and the Centre. The stupid brutal police operation has put the Sharif brothers in the dock. Shahbaz Sharif’s hard work and considerable achievements have been eclipsed and his image tarnished while his authority has been impaired. How can Nawaz Sharif explain his long absences from the National Assembly and the Senate? He has to examine his mindset and seek to drastically reform himself. Keeping important posts unfilled for months and delaying much-needed decisions reflect a lack of responsibility and incompetence. Hubris, complacency and myopia have been the fatal characteristics of the PML(N) ruling elite.
Thanks to Imran and Qadri, the two Sharif have been exposed and shaken. They have much to do to change their approach to politics and governance. Can they overcome and remedy these inadequacies?
The Imran–Qadri quake has succeeded in, more or less, upsetting and unsettling all major national actors.
The higher judiciary too finds itself involved and wants to make a contribution to redress imbalances and excesses.
Our media and definitely the TV channels, need to be educated and restrained. While they have over the years done much to impart public education to the masses, they have gone haywire and done considerable damage by, in many cases, distorting facts and confusing the viewers. (But for their excessive coverage of the Qadri – Imran evening shows, not much might have happened).
Democracy has yet to find its roots in this benighted country.
All over stakeholders; the politicians, the military, civil society, businessman, judiciary, the lawyers, civil servants, and last but not the least, the media, need to undertake an intensive exercise in introspection to shed misperceptions and take to healthy thinking and wholesome practices.

    The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and a freelance political and international relations analyst.