The King’s Party

24 May

The Prime Minister addressed Parliament not too long ago. A long-awaited clarification was expected but, as rightfully stated by Khurshid Shah, the address confused more than it clarified. Instead of presenting complete and authentic documentation, the Prime Minister chose to submit a handful of pictures to the Parliament with some Arab men, supposedly showing a purchase being made. No documentation as to these purchases was ever provided or even mentioned.

Worse still, Nawaz Sharif assumed that Parliament was so naïve that he could present an excel sheet with the amount of tax he has paid, without providing any details as to total income or wealth to justify or corroborate the percentage of tax being paid. All in all, there was nothing even slightly impressive about the Prime Minister’s address and definitely no clarification.

The opposition, on the other hand, staged a walk-out which has its merits in that they made a strong statement loud and clear that they would not be validating the Prime Minister’s address. However, they also came out looking less ‘parliamentary’ than a man who barely ever attends Parliamentary sessions himself.

With all this politics being played, confusion and chaos were bound to ensue. To add to the feeling of helplessness and frustration, the Chief Justice refused to head a Judicial Commission without said commission being specifically authorized under a new legislative instrument. The fact, however, remains that this rejection of the Government’s initiative was expected by those sitting in the corridors of power to begin with. It was nothing more than a tactic to buy additional time, in the same manner that Nawaz Sharif’s address was a tactic aiming to do the same.

The PMLN Government has another two years to hold onto their power. Rarely has such an absolute majority and heavy mandate been given to a political party in Pakistan. Instead of strengthening the democratic system that brought them in, the PMLN has chosen to identify itself as the King’s party (of course forgetting what happened to King Musharraf’s party). In doing so, they have created a hurdle for themselves that they could have easily avoided by simply de-linking Maryam Nawaz and the Prime Minister’s sons from the party. Instead, the PMLN Government has chosen to go down with the Prime Minister and his family.

On the other hand, we have recently discovered that Imran Khan, leader of the PTI, has an offshore company of his own. Why he chose not to declare this fact before pointing fingers at the Prime Minister is beyond comprehension. If, as he keeps insisting, there was no wrong-doing on his part, then why did he wait to be outed rather than making this information public at the very beginning? Moreover, even in Mr. Khan’s case, there are certain facts that don’t add up. To avoid paying capital gains tax in the UK, why would someone hire an entire legal team to create an offshore company, which would cost them around the same amount, if not more, than they would be paying in tax?

This isn’t the cherry on top though. The irony of the entire situation is that Khurshid Shah and the PPP are taking a stance against corruption. One has always known that our politicians are ready to compromise national interest for self-interest, but must we remind the PPP that it changed two Prime Ministers just so that they didn’t have to write a letter to the Swiss authorities?

The million-dollar question that remains though is: what will come of this disaster? Will the PMLN continue to identify itself as Nawaz Sharif’s party and not the sitting government that owes its electorate certain obligations that it has been unable to fulfil? Will the PTI take to the streets on its own or will they be accompanied by the entire opposition? What role will the military establishment play in all this and how will it affect General Raheel Sharif’s extension?

One can only assume that the Government will drag on the circus for as long as it can get away with it while the PTI and PPP will try and keep up their alliance for as long as the PPP knows no concrete action will be taken against the corrupt as that would inevitably bring them down with the PMLN. There are, of course, some elements within the PPP hoping that the corrupt within their own party are finally removed from the political scene. Pakistan, as usual, will suffer – economically and politically. After democracy has only begun to take its roots in Pakistan, this instability will likely result in calls for the military establishment to take over as it has done in the past.

While all this chaos consumes us in the Federal Capital, the south of Pakistan is witnessing some alarming but familiar developments. Mustafa Kamal’s return and the emergence of his Paksarzameen party is a reminder of how Altaf Hussain and the MQM initially emerged on Pakistan’s political scene. The monsters we spend all our resources and time fighting are those we create, nurture and facilitate ourselves.

In the meantime, Nawaz Sharif faces immense pressure to come clean by the very same institution that nurtured him under Zia and then threw him out under Musharraf. Bit of a tight spot to be in – conceding space to the military is not a wise option but is the order of the day considering the fact that the PMLN Government has done nothing to reform the criminal justice system. Military courts may need to operate for a longer period than expected, despite the sunset clause within the 21st Constitutional Amendment. Still, the Sharif brothers will continue on fooling themselves with their laptop schemes and motorways not realizing that these cosmetic ‘gifts’ will not matter if there is no one alive, well and able to use them.

To call the status quo in Pakistan a circus is an understatement – and to look for a saviour is instinctive. Accountability must prevail but who will be the sacrificial lamb? If the PMLN wishes to hold on to its government, it might be best for them to extract Nawaz Sharif and his family from the scene and focus on the development of their party as a democratic entity rather than an hotchpotch of the falling King’s men.

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One Response to “The King’s Party”

  1. Saif May 24, 2016 at 6:29 am #

    master piece

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