Malik Muhammad Ashraf
There are strong portents to suggest that the political landscape of the country in 2017 will remain as muddled as during 2016. The two major opposition parties PPP and PTI are in an offensive mode against the government, though separately and with different political strategies. While the former which is desperately striving to revive its lost glory, has opted to have the presence of its top leadership in the parliament and act as a tough opposition within and outside the parliament refusing to be part of any street agitation, the latter is well poised to continue the course of street agitations and denigrating the state institutions which it relishes doing.The PTI chief has already announced that if the party did not get justice from SC on Panama Leaks, the party would take to the streets and he has also been very critical of the former Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali for not deciding the case under his own stewardship and leaving it to the new bench to decide the issue. That was a typical pressure tactic used by Imran Khan to influence the court. However he has expressed complete confidence in the new 5-member bench formed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar which will be head by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa saying that PTI would accept whatever verdict the court announced in the Panama case. Whether he accepts the court decision if it turns out to be against his expectations or not, remains to be seen. Analysts and political observers have their doubts regarding acceptance of the SC decision ungrudgingly by Imran Khan in case it does not endorse his allegations against the Prime Minister and his family members, citing his track record of somersaults on taken positions. Imran Khan had expressed similar faith in the judicial commission that was constituted to probe into the allegations of systematic rigging in the 2013 general elections and had even given a written commitment to the government that his party would not only accept the findings of the commission but in case of repudiation of the rigging allegations would also withdraw the allegations. But when the verdict negated his allegations of systematic rigging and validated the mandate of PML-N, he wriggled out of his commitment and continues to term the 2013 general elections as rigged from every convenient roof-top, notwithstanding the fact that after the report of the commission he is on record to have admitted that his allegations of 35 punctures was just a political talk. Somebody threw the feeler, it reached his ears and he made it a pivot of his anti-rigging campaign. That undoubtedly reflected his impulsive streak to hurl un-substantiated allegations on his political opponents and bringing state functionaries and institutions into disrepute. Reportedly Imran while expressing faith in the new SC bench, also chose to have a swipe at elections commission by saying â€œPrime Minister Nawaz Sharif is planning to hold next elections in a style similar to 2013 general elections. He has people of his own choice in the ECP. We are getting reports directly from the ECP and know which official is helping Nawaz Sharif to stay in power. This time we will not protest after the elections but before the electionsâ€ As if the tirade against ECP by Imran was not enough, the central information secretary of PTI Naeemu-ul-Haq also joined his leader to add to the litany of allegations against the national electoral body by alleging that the ECP had become a means of fulfillment of the sinister agenda of the PML-N as it was needlessly dragging the disqualification references against PTI leaders forwarded by the NA speaker with malicious intent. The ECP taking notice of the regrettable salvo hurled at it by Imran, through a press statement has rightly termed it highly irresponsible convulsions designed to undermine the integrity of the institution and a deliberate vilification campaign. It is pertinent to point out that in view of the persistent flak at the former Chief elections commissioner and the members of the ECP, the government through 22ndamendment in the constitution changed the mode of appoint of the ECP members that also paved the way for ECP members to be chosen from the former bureaucrats as well. The parliamentary committee which appoints the members of the commission was also reconstituted in consultation with the opposition leader. The new Chief Election commission was also appointed through consultations between the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition as per law. The Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retired) Sardar Muhammad Raza is a man of integrity enjoying impeccable reputation as a judge. Accusing the ECP of being impartial under such a person by Imran Khan is the most preposterous proposition, exhibiting his lack of faith in law, parliament and constitutional bodies. That is crass politics. Imran has wasted good three years in over-indulgence in negative politics and has failed to make any contribution to reforming the system of governance and other changes that are imperative to tackle other afflictions like corruption, for which the parliament is the proper forum and not the streets. This has not endeared him well to the masses. There is a permeating view that irrespective of his over-rated popularity, his brand of politics will not help him to reach the corridors of power through the ballot, which is the real test of the popularity of a leader. But he refuses to learn from his mistakes and is poised to repeat them even during 2017. According to Albert Einstein doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results is insanity. Imran is better advised to revisit his political philosophy and believe in the sanctity of the parliament which is the only forum in a democratic dispensation to get things right. If he honestly feels what he has said about the ECP, he should voice his concerns in the parliament and bring around the other political parties to his view point to effect the changes that in his view will make the ECP a non-partisan body. That cannot be done on the streets. Nevertheless, the political observers are of the considered view that the tirade against the ECP stems from his inner voice that tells him that the next elections are also going to be won by the PML-N and he was adopting these tactics to pre-empt the embarrassment that he is likely to face as a result of the verdict of the people. PML-Nâ€™s achievements are duly endorsed by the international community and rating agencies. A report in British journal â€˜Spectatorâ€™ says Pakistan has won its war on terror. Bloomberg in its report has termed the stock market in Pakistan as the fifth best market in the world.Though in politics nothing can be predicted with certainty because there are many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip, but there are credible signs on the horizon that the PML-N will emerge triumphant even in 2018 general elections on the basis of its performance in regards to tackling the phenomenon of terrorism, revival of the economy, headway made in tackling the energy crisis, restoring peace in Karachi through targeted operation and building avenues of normalcy in Balochistan.