LAHORE - The speech of PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri was very attractive, especially for the common man groaning under the burden of the daily problems. He addressed almost all problems hampering national development, and because of which the poor and the illiterate are unable to get their rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
As things stand, only a revolution can set the prevailing situation right, and bringing about a revolution is easier said than done. It involves preparing the oppressed and the exploited against the oppressors and exploiters. And the people Dr Qadri wants to work against are the mightiest, who will use all possible means to thwart his plans. Sustaining a movement till the accomplishment of the goal will be an uphill task.
The toughest resistance will come from the PML-N and the PPP, the two major political parties of the country. These parties pose to be rivals but in fact they are one and the same thing because of the commonality of their interests. They are determined to alternate each other in power, cover up each other’s corruption and work jointly against any third party that can interrupt their power cycle. (The failure of the PML-N government to take any action against Mr Zardari despite leveling all kinds of allegations against him in a derogatory language before the last year’s elections substantiates the point).
The Awami National Party and almost all religious forces will also work against the PAT because of its agenda. In fact, religious forces want to keep themselves away from Dr Qadri because of his political views.
The PML-Q, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the All Pakistan Muslim League of Gen Pervez Musharraf are likely to support Dr Qadri’s agenda, although they will also like to wait for the right time before making their positions public.
The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, another staunch opponent of Sharif-Zardari duo, also faces a similar situation. Although for the time being the Jamaat-i-Islami is its coalition partner in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it will be rather premature to say if they will work together for the programme announced by the former cricket star on Sunday.
Awami Muslim League President Sheikh Rashid can play an important role in bringing about new political alignments. He has personal contacts with many leaders and can persuade them to shun differences in the larger national interest.
If, because of Sheikh Rashid’s mediation or any other factor, the PAT and the PTI agree to join hands, then some other parties sympathetic to Imran Khan may decide to be counted out. For example, the Jamaat-i-Islami and the PAT are less likely to sit together, no matter how serious the situation.
Observers say the fate of the campaign launched by the PAT and the PTI, on a day when the prime minister was in Iran trying to strengthen bilateral ties, depends more on the mood of what are known as real rulers, who reportedly have strained relations with the government for a variety of reasons, regardless of the ‘same page’ claims by the official spokesmen. In case the institution being referred to supports the demands made by Dr Qadri and Imran Khan, a political change will become unavoidable.
Many believe that the process of change will get expedited after the next fiscal year’s budget is announced next month.
As for the system outlined by Dr Qadri, it can be implemented either by drastically changing the existing Constitution or scrapping it altogether. The direct election of the head of the system, as proposed by the PAT chief, means the change of the political system in practice at present.
Similarly, giving all divisional headquarters the status of provinces will not be possible without constitutional amendments. The division of subjects between the centre and the provinces to make the latter more powerful will also require drastic changes in the basic law.
And if his plan is to be implemented, then there will be no elections for some years. Those thinking that fresh elections are round the corner will have to review their assessment.
The PAT chief’s claim that arranging funds required to provide houses to the shelterless, subsidise food items, utility bills, education and healthcare of the poor would not be much of a problem appears to be oversimplification.
But before going into nitty-gritty of the new system, let’s wait for the reaction of the powers that be.