The people of Pakistan who are the real architects of a separate homeland for Muslims under the indomitable leadership of Jinnah; are the defenders of the ideological frontiers of this land of the pure and are its real saviours, regrettably continue to bear the brunt of an unending ordeal, courtesy the shenanigans of military dictators, the political elite and some invisible and visible forces inimical to democracy. While the military dictators made relentless efforts to shatter the dream and vision of the founders of Pakistan by destroying the state institutions, decimating the constitution and adopting a disdainful posture towards the political leadership and elected governments, the politicians also have shown criminal apathy towards improving governance and doing away with the archaic colonial system which is inherently anti-people and has in-built avenues of corruption. If this country has survived the self-inflicted crisis and tribulations that it has gone through including the dismemberment of the country, due to the treacherous machinations of the rulers, it is because of the resilience and determination of its people to hold the fort.

Quaid envisioned Pakistan as a democratic entity and did not envisage any role for the Khakis except to defend the frontiers of the country and showing unqualified respect for and subservience to the constitution. What really happened was just the opposite. Politicians whose rules interspersed between the military rules also miserably failed to prove their democratic credentials and genuine love for the ideals bequeathed by the father of the nation. The political wrangling between the ruling and opposition parties and their attempts to bring down governments either with the backing of the praetorian powers or through conspiracies woven by the anti-democratic forces, has also kept the country on the tenterhooks, to the chagrin of the masses. What I am saying is not a rocket science. These are irrefutable realities. For the country to move ahead and find its respectable place in the comity of nations, the process needs to be reversed now.

Democracy is the only prescription that can take Pakistan to the desired heights envisioned by Quaid-i-Azam. It is said that the worst democracy is better than the most benign dictatorship. There may be lot of flaws in democracy during the process of its evolution but the solution lies in more and more democracy. The only way to keep the Khakis and other anti-democratic forces at bay is for the politicians to learn their lessons and put up joint resistance against any move to derail democracy or weaken it with a view to gain ascendency. That resistance is best galvanised through strengthening of democratic institutions, improving governance and delivering to the masses.

Transfer of power through ballot in 2013, after an elected government completed its mandated tenure indeed was a welcome and rare happening in Pakistan that raised hopes of a change of course. But it is a reality that the elected government failed to come up to the expectations of the people, partially through its own incompetence and rampant corruption in its higher echelons and partially due to the judicial activism, more so because of the personal grudge that the CJ entertained against PPP who through his excessive indulgence in suo moto notices did not let the government function properly. Media and intelligentsia did hint about a conspiracy against the government.

The PML-N government which came into power due to the heavy mandate of the people, only after one and half year was confronted with the worst ever political sit-in and agitation by PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek led by Qadri who came all the way from Canada after a long slumber. Their agitation unfortunately had all the trappings of a conspiracy, which according to General (Retd) Aslam Baig, the former COAS was backed by some retired generals and some international forces. The most sordid aspect of that conspiracy was that the major role was played in it by a party who barged on the political landscape of the country as a third potent political force obtaining second highest number of popular votes. The 124 day ‘dharna’ not only did incalculable economic damage to the country but also weakened democracy. No wonder the premise on which that movement was based crashed down to earth as a result of the findings of the Judicial Commission and established the validity and authenticity of the mandate given by the people to PML-N.

Now again, the country is bracing for yet another round of confrontation between the government and PTI enjoying the support of the parties who sided with the PML-N during ‘dharna’ for the cause of democracy. In view of the continued deadlock on the issue of TORs for the proposed Judicial Commission for probing Panama Leaks and Imran Khan’s threats to take to the streets against the government after the month of Ramadan if the Commission was not formed, the prospects of emergence of an ambience of political confrontation in the country cannot be ruled out. My take on the whole situation is that the rigid stance taken by PTI on TORs and its insistence of acceptance of their version without showing any flexibility, was actually a ploy to prepare ground for agitation. The PTI and opposition parties whose leaders are also involved in owning off-shores companies, including Imran Khan and the corruption that they have been doing in the past, never wanted a real process of accountability, but a witch-hunt against the Prime Minister and his family.

In politics, it is hard to predict the course that the vents will take, but going by developments and it is my hunch that if at all the eventuality of agitation against the government resurfaces, probably the PTI will find itself on a solo-flight. Unless of course, the Canada based cleric who is returning home and planning a sit-in in Lahore on June 17 on the second anniversary of model town tragedy again throws his weight behind Imran and there is another conspiracy to have a second go at the PML-N government. His return at this moment has certainly raised many eyebrows.

PTI is indeed beset with internal feuds and most of its stalwarts are guilty of owning off shore companies as well as have the reputation of being ‘carpet baggers’ bereft of any ideological moorings. Five its MNAs have expressed mistrust in the KP Chief Minister and accused him of indulgence in corruption. The governance in KPK also has not been an enviable as Imran would have liked it. The PTI therefore lacks the street power and the moral high ground to lead a campaign against the government on the issue of corruption. The PML-N still is the most popular party and is likely to weather the storm. In any case if the agitation does take place it would surely harm democracy. That is not what the country needs at this juncture when it is faced with egregious challenges. It is advisable for all the political forces to have a futuristic approach and get together to reform the system, plug the avenues that breed corruption and ensure more and more democracy. The forum for such effort is the parliament.

             The writer is a freelance columnist.