An aggressive political manoeuvring is currently underway in Pakistan following what was dubbed the ‘engineered elections’. Political parties are just busy in playing the typical numbers game to lead governments at the Centre and in various provinces. Since no political party could succeed in securing majority seats in the National Assembly and Punjab Assembly, none of the political parties is in a position to form government in Islamabad and Lahore alone. In this situation, a large number of independent candidates, who won their seats in their individual capacity, have become a decisive factor in making or breaking a ruling coalition. At present, both the so-called pro-change and status quo political parties are on this make-a-government spree. They are trying to buy the loyalty of these independent members at the ‘asking price’. Political parties are also making alliances and coalitions without bothering a least about their ideological orientations, election manifestos and previous affiliations. Ironically, a political party is also shamelessly criticising the other one despite the fact it is tarred with the same brush.
Noticeably, politics in Pakistan is devoid of the things like principles and morality. Politicos have never been united except to oppose or topple a serving elected government. Therefore, now, almost all opposition parties have joined hands against the PTI, a party which is likely to lead the federal government. It is only a peculiarly of our political system that political parties are criticising a government which is not even formed yet. Paradoxically, a few days ago during the recent elections campaign, these parties were just cursing PML(N). Similarly, these political parties also en bloc supported the Panamagate proceedings and post-Panama ‘legal actions’ taken by the apex court to render PML(N) a political non entity. These parties are now crying as they became a victim of the perceived political engineering in the country.
On the other side, PTI, the pro-change political party has also started employing the very tools to get into power which have been the hallmarks of the political status quo in Pakistan. According to a MOU recently signed between PTI and MQM in Karachi, both parties will be the coalition partners at the Centre. Both parties were each other’s worst political opponent and critic in the past. PTI has been holding MQM responsible for all the underlying woes of the Karachiites after labelling it an anti-state party. Even in the recent elections, both parties were the primary political competitors in Karachi. So PTI has been severely criticising MQM and its past politics during its elections campaign. It is a fact most of the people who voted for PTI in these elections wanted this party to put an end to MQM’s legacy and its politics in the city. Therefore, apparently, both parties have violated the mandate given by their voters in the recent elections through making this coalition.
This week, PTI formally nominated Imran Khan as party’s candidate for the premiership. However, Ik has already chosen to make a victory speech without being constitutionally elected, and even without being nominated by his party. This practice is apparently against the general democratic norms prevalent in the contemporary world. Many have criticised former PM Nawaz Sharif for prematurely declaring his party’s victory following the 2013 general elections. But regrettably, IK just made a full-fledged victory speech. It is believed that he had tried to influence numerous successful independent candidates in Punjab to conveniently form PTI’s government at the Centre and in Punjab through this speech.
Prime Minster-in-waiting Imran Khan, in his ‘victory speech’, announced not to stay at the official PM residence in Islamabad after being elected as prime minister. This move is part of his intended austerity measures. However, no official future residence for Imran Khan has yet been finalised by his party. In this respect, the Speaker National Assembly’s official residence situated in the Ministers’ Enclave and Punjab House in Islamabad were initially proposed. In fact, both of these buildings were neither built to house a prime minister nor are suitable for him for security reasons. Similarly, if official residence of prime minister at the Constitutional Avenue in Islamabad is vacated or abandoned, this building won’t be utilized for any other public purpose owing to its location in the high-security zone in Islamabad. At this stage, Imran khan shouldn’t indulge himself in unnecessary residence-related controversies. After being elected as PM, Imran Khan should move to his official residence as do the heads of states and governments all over the civilized world, including the countries like the US and the UK. Indeed, he can minimise the lavish and unnecessary spendings there through his personal efforts. IK and the future PTI government should focus on the grave economic challenges currently faced by Pakistan. Rather than being overly worried about the PM House expenses, they should try to devise a strategy to get rid of a large number of loss-making state-owned enterprises (SOEs), the white elephants which eat up hundreds of billions of rupees of this poor nation every year.
It is also quite strange that PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who has been a vocal critic of the so-called VIP culture in Pakistan, has started enjoying the security protocol reserved for a prime minister without being formally elected so. We also saw hundreds of personnel of the police and Pakistan Rangers performing security duties at Imran Khan’s Bani Gala residence in Islamabad even before the July 25. Now Capital Development Authority (CDA) is going to install a large number of floodlights in the area adjoining to this IK’s residence. Certainly, these developments are inconsistent with the PTI’s Naya Pakistan.
PTI has yet not finalised the name for a large number of important government slots, especially the CMs of KP and Punjab, and key federal ministries. It is being expected that PTI Chairman Imran Khan would alone nominate the individuals for these slots in the absence of a vibrant and functional decision-making body within the party. Earlier, he has been selecting and appointing important officeholders in PTI rather than periodically holding independent intra-party elections. Currently, PTI is more or less a bunch sycophants and flatterers who try to please and appease Kaptaan all the time. They hardly miss any opportunity to publically prove IK the greatest revolutionary, reformer and administrator who will alone set things right Pakistan. There have been many complaints that PTI preferred the so-called electables over the diehard party activists while awarding party tickets ahead of the recent polls. It is now also advisable that IK should take into consideration the individuals’ personal capacity and ability to deliver rather than his closeness and intimacy to them. IK has miserably failed in making PTI an institution. Let’s see whether or not he succeeds in building institutions to make a Naya Pakistan.
The writer is a lawyer and columnist based in Lahore.