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Changing Politics of Pakistan

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Muhammad Arif : Chairman Centre of Advisory Services for Islamic Banking and Finance (CAIF), Former Head of FSCD SBP, Former Head of Research ArifHabib Investments and Member IFSB Task Force for development of Islamic Money Market, Former Member of Access to Justice Fund Supreme Court of Pakistan

Pakistani politics is changing very fast but very few can predict who will continue as Prime Minister for the next three years. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan is confident that he is the one. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has given him the title of “ladla” (favorite), and we all know who he is alluding to.

PML-N Supremo Nawaz Sharif on 20th September, while addressing the much-hyped PPP-hosted multiparty conference in Islamabad, said that the opposition’s struggle was not against Prime Minister Imran Khan but those who brought him into power through the 2018 elections. We have made this country a joke in our own eyes and internationally as well.” He also repeated the opposition’s allegation that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), with the connivance of PTI, was carrying out only “selective accountability”.

In his remarks on the same meeting Zardari criticized the government over what he called were “tactics” to suppress the opposition and media. Bilawal and Shahbaz Sahrif urged the opposition to unite and launch a movement similar to the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in the past.”We are standing with the decision this forum takes and are willing to fight till our last breath.

Now a debate is on about meetings of COAS with opposition leaders. But in a country where Army has its deciding role in changes, this is a normal phenomenon. In fact everyone should have focused on people’s issues but they all are wasting time on non issues. Particularly Sh. Rasheed is hurting establishment through his statements and by declaring spokesman of the military. In response to Sh Rasheed allegation PML N has now instructed its members not to meet COAS without prior permission.

Mr. Shahbaz Sharif the main opposition leader has now been arrested. This is creating lot of space for the opposition as well to the government to move forward. But with inflation on peak, people suffering due to high level of unemployment and immense rise in prices the position of government is looking weak. This vacuum with arrests of many if properly used by the opposition can change the politics of Pakistan with a start of new chapter.

We all remember that after retiring from cricket, Imran Khan founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 1996 and became its national leader. He also spoke about his equation with the Former President General Pervez Musharraf. In 1999, he supported General Pervez Musharraf’s military coup, only to later turn against Musharraf ahead of the 2007 presidential election. Khan was subsequently placed under house arrest and even spent a few days in prison.

​By 2018, Khan’s PTI was among the favorites going into the general election. Campaigning on a populist platform, Khan pledged to break away from Pakistan’s corrupt legacy. His plans include a poverty reduction program similar to that seen in China. This would see the establishment of an “Islamic welfare state,” the creation of 10 million jobs and construction of 5 million homes for the poor.

He also revealed that he was first offered a ministerial position by the then President Muhammed Zia-ul-Haq in 1988. Imran Khan even said that Pervez Musharraf had himself personally offered him the post of prime minister if he had stood by him.

But like Nawaz Sahrif when Imran Khan was in opposition in one of his interviews has raised several eyebrows, including for the Army. In response to a very simple question on Geo: “Why is Nawaz Sharif using the word ‘Ladla for you’ He said, “I am not the ‘Ladla’, it was actually Nawaz Sharif who was always a ‘Ladla’ of the Army and judiciary”. He said that Nawaz Sharif rigged elections, with the help of the Army, in 1990, 1997 and in 2013, he added.

The question came that “Are you talking about the role of Army in 2013 elections as well?” Imran Khan again said yes. Then he took the name of Brigadier Muzaffar Ali Ranjha, who was head of Military Intelligence in Punjab during the 2013 elections. Ranjha was given a prize post by the PML-N government after his retirement from the Army — appointed head of the Anti-Corruption Agency in Punjab by then chief minister Shehbaz Sharif. Imran claimed that Ranjha had rigged the election for Nawaz Sharif in 2013. It was again asked, “Are you talking about some individuals or the whole institution?” Imran said he was fully aware what he was saying.

This interview had become a headline in the Pakistani media. So much so that Imran Khan’s several rivals have begun to smile at his public political blunder.

Than Imran started boastful claims in 2018 that Nawaz Sharif would soon go to jail. In a public meeting in Jhelum in response in 2018 Nawaz Sharif said that Imran Khan is like Porus ka haathi (the elephant of Raja Porus). Now Jhelum is where Porus fought and lost against Alexander the Great. It is said that there were 200 elephants in his army, but the elephants trampled his own soldiers which is how Alexander won the battle. Now Nawaz Sharif is hardly Alexander the Great but he seems sure that Imran Khan is like Porus’ elephant that would run over his own Army.

Many “electable” joined Imran Khan under the impression that he is the “Ladla” of the Army and he was able to form his government in 2018.

In the past Nawaz Sharif was speaking against 62(1) F, tomorrow Imran may become its victim. Let’s be clear, 62(1) F (electoral disqualification under Article 62(1) (f) of the Constitution of Pakistan) is not a bouncer. It was inserted into the Constitution by late Gen Zia-ul Haq as a Yorker against politicians. Many politicians, including Nawaz Sharif, were clean bowled on this Yorker. Imran Khan has been a good bowler but not a perfect batsman. He will face this Yorker again and again. History may be repeated and another Ladla will lose his middle stump.

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