Nawaz Sharif is finally smiling again and making regular appearances in Pakistan’s National Assembly. If all continues to go well for him, he will emerge as a survivor and still lead the national government in Pakistan. The massive sit-ins, that must have been giving sleepless nights to Sharif for the past three weeks, seem to be losing steam now after Javed Hashmi’s startling public disclosures.
Javed Hashmi, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) dissident president, has alleged that a large-scale conspiracy had been hatched to derail the democratic process in Pakistan. The much respected, elderly politician had parted ways with the PTI after refusing to stand by Imran Khan’s decision to march toward the Prime Minister’s House. He has further claimed that the current political crisis was scripted and a soft coup by the military, and judiciary, was planned to purge corrupt elements from Pakistan’s mainstream political stage. The PTI and PAT leadership has, of course, denied these allegations and termed those baseless. As legislators rally behind the government, the two parties have declared that the status quo has once again come together to thwart attempts by the masses to get rid of a corrupt and self-serving system.
In view of these allegations, some questions remain to be answered. Should Hashmi be believed? Was there really a conspiracy to hijack Pakistan’s democratic process? In case there were indeed such mischievous intentions; who was likely to benefit the most from arising situation? Had Sharif been crumbled under pressure, it would have set a poor precedent in Pakistan’s politics and caused enormous harm to the democratic process in the country. In future, any party or mob with strong street power would have been able to overthrow a legitimate government if its demands were not met. It is encouraging to note that, despite their differences, most major political parties have resolved to abide by democratic norms and decide the fate of any future governments only through a no-confidence vote in the Parliament.
The world has also been closely watching the tense situation in Islamabad unfold, as political stability in Pakistan is key for the emerging geopolitical scenario as the US prepares to withdraw from the region. According to South Asia Democracy Watch (SADEW), a US-based group, there was widespread concern about the moves by Imran Khan’s PTI and Qadri’s PAT to overthrow the Sharif-led government through protests. Their demand to seek resignation from Sharif was declared unconstitutional and unlawful as it breached the sanctity of a democratically elected government.
While there is no doubt that Pakistan’s nascent and rather fragile democratic system leaves much to be desired, it continues to make baby steps toward strengthening its roots. Last year, the previous PPP government of Asif Zardari survived against all odds to complete its term and achieved a milestone by transferring power to another elected government. This landmark in the country’s journey of democracy was achieved through a process of reconciliation and developing consensus on matters of national interest. All political parties need to show the same willingness to help the system evolve so that it may have a real chance of serving the people of Pakistan.
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