For the last three weeks Pakistan has been in political turmoil. The turmoil has all but strangled Pakistan’s already precarious economic predicament. Official figures suggest Pakistan has lost over Rs 900 Billion since the start of this crisis.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran khan and Canadian based Cleric Dr Tahirul Qadri have effectively been holding the capital hostage since the mid of August with a few thousand supporters. Both Qadri and Imran came to Islamabad with an apparent agenda of political reform and change. Throughout the last weeks we have seen both Qadri and Imran make contradictory statements and both have changed the goalpost several times.
Imran’s demand of investigation into the alleged electoral fraud was whole heartedly accepted by the government before the departure of his long march towards Islamabad. PM Sharif, in an unprecedented move agreed on setting up a commission of supreme court judges to investigate the rigging claim. This was exactly what Imran had been demanding in the build up to the Long March. But, it appears, Mr Khan had other plans. Khan suddenly changed the agenda from investigation of electoral fraud to outright resignation of PM and dissolution of Assemblies. Both Mr Khan & Qadri also declared the parliament bogus several times after arriving in Islamabad. Ironically, Mr Khan still remains a part of the same parliament.
As days turned into weeks, and with Government not willing to bow down to their unconstitutional demands, both Imran and Qadri started to lose patience, this was reflected from their daily dose of schizophrenic statements and actions. Imran was extremely perturbed by the lack of public participation in his dharna and called for people to join him. On the contrary, Qadri continued to have a loyal base and his supporters stayed at the Dharna sight, day in and day out. All estimates, even the most Liberal ones suggest that the combined crowd that Qadri and Imran managed never exceeded 20,000 people. The crowd has continued to decrease with the passage of time. Finally Imran and Qadri lost patience and told their supporters to move towards the sensitive government buildings including the Prime Minister House, Parliament and PTV Headquarters. Both had earlier promised not to violate the sanctity of these state institutions.
In one of the darkest days in the history of Pakistan, the Headquarters of Pakistan State television was attacked by a violent PTI/PAT mob. The premises was ransacked and PTV staffers were threatened, manhandled and held hostage until the Army came to clear the building, but the symbolic damage had already been done as a major state institution had been attacked. Simultaneously the PAT/PTI workers also tried to enter the Parliament and PM House. It’s worth mentioning that the Government refrained from using force as a press statement from ISPR had earlier warned against use of force.
With the Government on the back foot, it seemed all had been lost, until a brave man popularly known as ‘Baaghi’ dropped a bombshell. Javed Hashmi, the President of PTI and a close confidant of PTI chief Imran khan disclosed the whole conspiracy after disagreeing with Imran on the issue of attacking state institutions.
Hashmi claimed, in an explosive Press conference that Imran was following a ‘Script’ to derail democracy in Pakistan. Hashmi also claimed that the long march and the anti democracy conspiracy, had been in the making since 2013. Hashmi also disclosed that Khan had told him and several other party members that PTI can’t work without the help from the military establishment. He made several other explosive and deeply damaging allegations, which will remain part of Pakistan’s political discourse for a long time to come.
This was a real revolution in the real sense. Democratic governments in the past have been sent home through similar conspiracies and schemes but for the first time the script writers and the chosen actors were caught ‘in the act.’ Hashmi’s allegations not only created a rift within Imran khan’s own party, several PTI MPs have since parted ways with Imran on the issue of resignations, the disclosures also emboldened and strengthened the Parliament of Pakistan.
Parliamentarians held an unprecedented joint parliamentary session after the disclosures of Mr Hashmi, and for the first time in the country’s tumultuous history, all political parties in the parliament, apart from PTI, reaffirmed their support for the democratically elected PM of the country and the constitution.
The opposition parties were critical of both Dr Tahir ul Qadri & Imran khan as well as the ‘script writers’ of this sordid affair. Fiery speeches in support of democracy and against anti-democracy forces were heard on the floor of the house. Language like this is unheard of in the Pakistan’s Parliament. The opposition in particular was extremely vocal about the whole ‘conspiracy’ and they openly expressed their reservations about the role of the ‘script writers’. This itself is nothing short of a revolution in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s image has been badly tarnished in the last few weeks due to the ongoing protests. Several heads of the states including an all important visit by Chinese President has been postponed. The economy continues to bleed, dollar continues to make an upward climb and the Karachi stock exchange has crashed as well. It’s time both Mr Qadri and Imran khan read the writing on the wall and accept the fact that democracy has won the day and their selfish desires have lost.
PTI as a party needs introspection as well. Senior PTI leaders must question the wayward, directionless and anarchic policies of Mr Khan and try to fix the party before it’s too late. The Government should also try everything in its disposal to solve the impasse as quickly as possible so that it can turn its focus on the issues of governance. PM Sharif should use this unprecedented vote of confidence from the parliament to improve governance as he might never get a better shot at it.