Just after fourteen months of the first smooth democratic transition of our political history, which otherwise is marred with covert and overt undemocratic disruptions, we are at the brink of yet another breakdown. The familiar musical chair that we grew up with during intermission between two dictatorships is no more there, with BB having been violently taken out from the scene.
This time around, two new players with a strong sense of mission-to-be-fulfilled, nurtured for a long time, have been unleashed. Missionary zeal combined with institutional support and an aurora of success after hard work spanning over years has won them confidence of numbers large enough to control the game.
There are wheels within wheels. Sharif has already got power and wants to retain it for the full term. Regardless of the shameless rigging, he is the most legitimate player. Khan and Qadri have set the sails in the hope of spoils with Raheel and Zaheer closely monitoring their maneuvers. Supposing that the intention is not to cut Sharif to size only and he is completely knocked down at some stage, how the spoils will be distributed. Both Imran and Qadri want to replace him and if history is any guide, Raheel will not allow that unless some sort of arrangement has already been made and is subsequently honored.
Historically we have seen long marches, one at a time. But the interesting times we live in, have unfolded two long marches at the same time. Another dramatic feature of two marches is the containerized revolution. While the impressionable kids of PTI would laugh at the container of Qadri in his last stint on revolution, this time round, according to some media reports, Imran is also going to bring about the Azadi to the unfortunate nation in a customized container. So the battle on the roads of Islamabad is going to be Inqilabi and Azadi bulletproof containers versus ordinary containers. Given the incitement of violence from all sides, ordinary workers and security personnel will have bloodbath on both sides while Sharif, Khan and Qadri will command from bullet proof & bomb proof forts.
Interestingly, all players are claiming that their actions are for the strengthening of democracy and others actions are for its derailment. Possibility of a military take over is also being openly debated now, with its pre-fixed responsibility on the other side though.
Democracy being a consensus form of government of our times has been under constant threat both on ideological front from religious interpretations and on battle ground from the civil-military imbalance. Even when we have had democratic intervals, democracy has been sham one. So, in Pakistan, democracy could not take deep roots on the one hand and non-democracy could not get complete approval of overwhelming majority either. That has resulted in the hide and seek phenomenon in our polity causing political instability for the six and half decades of our existence.
While Sharifs have gone on backfoot, Qadri and Khan appear to be in high spirit. The courage they are showing is more like the dutch courage and overconfidence displayed has been pumped into them. When the tides turn in ones favor and all powers-that-be become benevolent, funds start flowing in, technical and other supports get arranged on auto mode, opportunists trying to cross lines in multitudes and, as a result of all that, popularity graphs start roaring, everyone becomes what Imran is now. Or, alternatively, when trained cadre built up over years on religio-spiritual lines, at the beck and call of the supremo, ready to sacrifice with everything at disposal for the revival of faith is reinforced with orchestrated revolution by the gamekeepers, one starts sounding like Qadri is doing today.
But the contradictions are also remarkably wide. Howsoever beautiful post-revolution scenarios may be, reality remains that Qureshis, Tareens, Rasheeds, Chaudharies and Mazaris are demanding power from Sharifs, Iqbals, Khawajas and Nisars and calling it Azadi and revolution. Imran claims that his “struggle” is within the confines of constitution but actually his demands are, by and large, unconstitutional. Qadri is reassuring us that his revolution is constitutional and will bring about true democracy but his revolutionary government with his own goodself commanding, of course, has no bearing with the constitutional framework. Raheel chairing core commanders meeting says that the political situation has to be dealt by the political government, but the political explosion reveals all the signatures of careful script writing from behind. General Aslam Baig who remained a constant pain in the neck of PM Benazir and was also involved in forming IJI has been warning in no minced words that history of Egypt can be repeated here in Pakistan because institutions are being disgraced. Trial of Musharraf has already disgraced the institutions much.
As power is the ultimate goal in politics, it has to be acquired, come what may. And the best combination is you must be an expert in demagogy so far as your words are concerned but you must be a Machiavellian realist in practice. Although many a politicians has started with loads of idealism but everyone, yes almost everyone, has ended up completely dipped into Machiavellian tradition if not in nothingness. What will come out of these two marches? Nothing can be said with certainty, because man proposes and God disposes. But what can be said with certainty is that those, whose decisions ultimately matter, have already decided.
The writer is a lawyer and founder of Aam Aadmi Party Pakistan.