Two seasons are currently running alongside each other in the country presently. One is of budget season which has been advanced in view of the fast approaching holy month of fasting Ramzanul Mubarik.

Presentation of federal and provincial budgets for financial year 2018-19 has also been advanced as the constitutional five years tenure at the federal and provincial levels is expiring around end of May. Incumbent ruling party PML(N) has already presented its sixth budget on April 27 in somewhat controversial manner whether. Traditionally, the provincial budgets are presented few days after the federal budget but the provincial governments are still unable to do that as they are pondering whether to present budget for three months or for full year.

The other season is of general elections which are due to be held sometime in July 2018 and electioneering by the political parties is also picking up pace and public meetings are being held quite frequently and campaigns are also being put in top gear with the passage time.

Side by side with these two seasons, another season of changing of political affiliations and loyalty is also in progress and almost every day, for last couple of weeks, political leaders both known and unknown are deserting and defecting their parties and joining the other ones.

It is rather incomprehensible that the political leaders change their affiliations from one party to the other after remaining loyal to it for years as the time for fresh elections approaches. Apparently, they do so after their parent party leadership indicates to them that they will not be given tickets for contesting polls at the national and provincial levels and they just jump ship and join another party to try their luck there.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League(Nawaz) (PML-N) and Pakistan Muslim League (PML) , Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) are the main parties who are either suffering on account of their leaders deserting and defecting and jumping on the other parties bandwagons or gaining strength with other parties leaders joining them.

PML(N) supreme leader and disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is on record to have said that those who have deserted and defected the party are not among them. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has vowed to expose the forces behind PMN-N’s desertions.

PML President and former Prime Minister Ch Shujat Hussain has said that there is no king’s party and political leaders are shifting their loyalties on their own as “they are not small children drinking milk.”

PTI Chairman Imran Khan and PPP Chairman Bilawal Zardari are just welcoming political leaders into their fold saying their doors are open for everyone.

Changing political affiliations and loyalties is not a new phenomenon however. This switching of political affairs overnight was also quite visible ahead of the last general election.

To freshen the memories of the readers , it may be mentioned here that prior to 2013 general elections, PPP Patriots had joined the then ruling party PML (Quaid) in pretty good numbers, not out of any commitment but for improving chances of their success in the polls in case they are considered worthy of a party ticket at all. The Patriots then had done the same couple of years ago.

PPP Patriots had come into existence after a number of MNAs and MPAs who had contested and won the October 2002 elections on PPP Parliamentarian’s tickets, overnight changed their political affiliations and put their eggs in the basket of the PPP Patriots. The Patriots afterwards had got themselves officially registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan.

During the time Benazir Bhutto was Life Chairman, PPP got registered with the Election Commission as PPP Parliamentarians which was headed by Makhdoom Amin Faheem.

PPP Patriots leaders had deserted PPP Parliamentarians and then also deserted Patriots to join the ruling party PML(Q) to improve their chances of their success in the general elections. They had deserted and defected as political turncoats twice at least in a short period of four years.

Cutting the long bitter switching political loyalties story short, this is what has been going on in the country for several years particularly on the eve of the general elections. One can go on quoting hundreds of instances of this nature. But he masses must remember; once a defector, always a defector and a politician with wavering party affiliations.

 

The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News) Radio Pakistan, Islamabad.

zahidriffat@gmail.com