The marches may leave some bad memories!
Guest column by Barrister Ameer Abbas Khan | #AzadiMarch Analysis: What may happen
News flash on 15 August 1900 hours: Both PTI and PAT marches are in a 100+km range from Islamabad. They can enter Islamabad any time tomorrow (Saturday 16 August). PM Nawaz Sharif has called his close aides for consultation as the political temperature rises.
After the PM’s initiative to set up a commission of Supreme Court Judges to look into the issues of election rigging, is there any legal or moral justification left for the PTI to bent on going ahead with its “Tsunami March” which it later re-named to “Azadi March”?
This question is even more significant when up until just a month ago, Imran Khan would have accepted votes verification in just four constituencies and he also expressed his confidence in the Honorable Supreme Court under the command of Chief Justice Nasir-Ul-Mulk.
However, Khan outrightly rejected the PM’s initiative and questioned the independence of Supreme Court whilst Nawaz Sharif remains PM of the country.
But one cannot rule out that the real reason for Khan not accepting this Commission could be that the Commission would only be tasked to look into overall election rigging which may not serve Khan’s objectives as they can only and easily be achieved through votes verification in 4 constituencies.
This is because it is going to be very easy for Khan to establish rigging in just four individual constituencies and on the basis of which he can question the authenticity of the whole of election. But one must remember that there is a possibility that some elements of rigging may be found in each and every constituency, including one of Khan’s own, and therefore challenging whole election merely on the basis of four constituencies would be a bad precedent.
Some may question as to why government failed to carry out vote’s verification in 4 constituencies earlier and now it’s setting up a Commission is just a gimmick. The issue of vote’s verification had to be dealt with by Courts, and in particular election tribunals, under the Representative of People Act 1976. Whereas what government is doing is using its authority under Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act 1956 to set up a commission to determine whether or not such a massive and systematic rigging took place across the board that the 2013 election does not in fact truly represent the choice of people. And, for that purpose, PTI may not be able to produce sufficient evidence for the commission to give verdict as desired by it.
After PM’s speech, Imran Khan delivered a press conference in which he repeated his historical allegations, like PM made so much wealth and his flats in Mayfair London, but said nothing credible in refuting Supreme Court’s Commission to look into election rigging.
The question arises that all these historical allegations did exist when Nawaz Sharif became PM and why it is that Imran Khan accepted him as Prime Minister then. Is it a mark of a principled politician whom we are looking at and branding him as the only savior of Pakistan?
The irony is that PTI is not accepting the PM’s initiative claiming that it has got too late now without actually identifying the irreparable loss which has occurred due to PM not taking such step about a month ago.
Imran Khan and PTI would have achieved something, if not a lot, by accepting Supreme Court’s Commission and calling off their march. They would have been able to demonstrate that real power is with the people who can force government to take actions. They would have been to identify, through this commission, real issues which may help them in shaping the electoral reforms they have been advocating for. And this issue of election rigging was not going to die in the background of commission and in fact depending upon its finding PTI could have come harder on the government in a month or two.
Instead of accepting the commission, PTI is still adamant to do march along with Dr Tahir Ul Qadri, who not only contested the election but also doesn’t recognize any institution of Pakistan but the Army. And the movement of TUQ is broader than that of Imran Khan and therefore Imran Khan could be seen to be merging into TUQ rather than the other way round. For this Imran Khan may have to pay a price in times to come and he may not be forgiven like when he supported Pervez Musharraf in 2002 for which he himself admitted was a mistake.
So what are the options left for PTI and PAT? It appears that they are aiming to create so much chaos that either government itself decides to step down or is forced to do by a third force, namely the Army.
It would be far-fetched to believe that government would easily give way to their threats, particularly that of TUQ who doesn’t even believe in this system altogether, and therefore in reality it appears that both PTI and PAT are relying on the Army to play its part in some way.
In the given circumstances that Army is waging war at different fronts within Pakistan, soon starting of withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Pakistan troubling relations with Afghanistan and India, it may not be in the interest of Pakistan and Army to come and take over as it has done in the past.
But PTI has taken itself to such a point that it would need something to save its face value and for that Army’s role in a current situation cannot be ruled out and therefore PMLN may have to pay some price and it may include stepping down of Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister. If PMLN doesn’t have to pay a price in some major form then it would negate the people’s view that Imran Khan has the backing of Army and it would also result in a heavy blow to Imran Khan.
In such a political turmoil, the significance of recent Supreme Court order restraining institutions to act against the constitution cannot be ignored; and at the same time the legal procedures that Pervez Musharraf is going through would also play a decisive factor in Army’s role to resolve the political deadlock.
It may or may not happen but one thing is for sure that politicians, be it in power or in opposition, are their own enemies and have not learnt lessons from past and therefore they would still have to live with struggling democracy.
An Abdalian and Aitchisonian, Barrister Ameer Abbas Ali Khan, is a Solicitor-Advocate (UK), Advocte High Court. He has LLB (Hons) UK, LLM (LSE), Bar-at-Law from Lincoln Inn, and lives in London. His father has been an MP in Pakistan over several decades.
The opinions expressed in this guest post are the writer’s own and do not reflect the view of the walizahid.com blog.
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