“Past precedence [in Pakistan’s

political history] provides ample

evidence that elections are a tool to

access power and to perpetuate power under the hijab of democracy. It serves the monopoly of the family franchise.”

– Mowahid Hussain Shah, TheNation

Has the PPP co-chairperson, the skilful artisan and practitioner of Machiavellian politics (the prince does everything possible to save his rule), once again hijacked the agenda for political change in Pakistan? Has he politically deceived Dr Tahirul Qadri by the PPP government’s accord signed in Islamabad during the “long march” on the capital? Has he prevailed for the continuation of political status quo in this country? Has he marginalised Nawaz Sharif and forced him to play on the back foot for the ultimate future glory of the Machiavellian Prince? Has he made Dr Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan’s politics of change doctrine irrelevant in tomorrow’s Pakistan?

These are some vital questions that need not only be understood in the aftermath of the Dr Qadri-PPP agreement, but must also be answered and analysed in the context of the political probabilities that are likely to emerge out of Pakistan’s “realpolitik” dynamics. The traditional political actors in the corridors of power in this country are not likely to let their hold on national politics slip away so easily. Eventually, the forces of political status quo and the forces of political change have come face-to-face for a final showdown. It is going to be a messy business - full of the ruling elite’s Mafioso tactics and a battle of wits and determination by the advocates of the doctrine of political change.

Dr Qadri’s daring and enterprising movement for massive public mobilisation against an inefficient, corrupt, greatly mismanaged so-called democratic regime and political system came to an abrupt end when the prince’s forces, armed with diabolic intentions to counteract the Islamabad Declaration, decided to descend on the bulletproof custom-made container housing the movement’s leader.

It seems that an earlier government plan, publicly articulated by the Interior Minister to effectively terminate the revolutionary public movement and its leader by force, was clearly and admirably sabotaged by the ISI and the military establishment. I venture to guess (indeed, without any authentic information) that a timely call from the GHQ had warned the prince (at the time, running the presidency from his Karachi residence) that such a brutal course of political action would not be tolerated. My personal view on the matter is that it was put straight to the prince that any aggressive action against peaceful protestors was absolutely unacceptable - and indeed, the consequences would be serious. If this assumption is accurate, then the military establishment must be congratulated on its political wisdom and farsighted vision, as well as on its humanitarian concerns for public safety.

Hence, the prince moved on to his second option: the mantra of political reconciliation by dialogue, deliberation and consensus-building. Suddenly, a government delegation was at Dr Qadri’s door, seeking a political resolution and an agreement on the terms and conditions for the Islamabad Declaration.

Ironically, the government delegation to Dr Qadri’s container included even the Federal Information Minister, who had, only earlier in the day, ridiculed the esteemed Doctor and lambasted him. Even more strange, as well as precious in terms of decent human behaviour, was the moment when Dr Qadri embraced the said Minister and appreciated his efforts in the service of democracy. Perhaps, Dr Qadri was showing admirable personal courtesy, political wisdom and flexibility for the success of ongoing negotiations.

I suspect, as an observer of the traditional ruling elite’s political behaviour, that Pakistani Machiavellian princes of political status quo orientation, a whole lot of them together inclusive of PPP and its allies, have no intention of honouring the Islamabad Declaration in its true letter and spirit. It is almost certain that they are going to do everything and anything within the realm of possibilities and beyond to sabotage the intended outcomes of the said agreement - which are the change of guard at the helm of national affairs, the induction of middle class leadership at provincial and national levels, independent legislative assemblies, and a transformational change in the political culture of this country.

All these political dimensions in a would-be revolutionary Pakistan are death warrants to the established incumbent political forces; therefore, they are going to fight tooth and nail to prevail against any fundamental changes in the political structure of this country. They will have their cronies put up for elections with hidden financial and political support. They will cover up their ill-deeds with massive propaganda campaigns, character assassinations of their adversaries, and a selectively organised hostile media assault against the advocates of political change.

As a consequence, come March of this year, a more determined, united, sentimentally and politically expressive public mass movement will have to re-emerge to take control of the political events in Pakistan. Youth, young and old, men and women and people of all persuasions and backgrounds will have to join in to save Pakistan from the rotten political culture and system. Such has been the nature and history of political chaos in the annals of human existence. Pakistan cannot be an exception to this universal rule.

Indeed, neither Tahirul Qadri nor Imran Khan is going to be irrelevant to Pakistan’s future political landscape. In my opinion, as the status quo forces thrust forward with more harmful ammunition to sabotage the movement for political change, the more the revolutionary forces will strengthen their resolve for a fundamental political change in the country. I can clearly see at this moment a powerful and vibrant political alliance between Dr Qadri’s camp and Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaaf.

It seems both Qadri and Khan are marked to play a fundamental revolutionary part in the transformational politics of this nation. It is bound to happen.

A word to the princes of political demagogy and family oligarchies: change is inevitable now - read the writing on the wall - do not push the nation into a further economic, social and political abyss. Otherwise, you will be held responsible. There is going to be a day of political accountability and judgment soon.

The writer is UAE-based academic policy analyst, conflict resolution expert and the author of several books on Pakistan and foreign policy issues. He holds a doctorate and a masters degree from Columbia University in New York. Email:hl_mehdi@hotmail.com