Change set rolling

Courtesy:- MALIK MUHAMMAD ASHRAF

The events of the last week in Islamabad including the blocking of prison vans by PTI workers and MNAs at the court premises, securing the release of PTI workers from police custody forcefully by Imran Khan, and the spate of threats hurled at the government by both leaders to bring about a bloody revolution in the country, are indicative of the frustration and disappointment that they feel at the failure of their attempt to find a shortcut to the corridors of power through unconstitutional means. By prolonging their sit-ins and continuing their lacklustre blustering, they are in fact reinforcing their failures.

Both gentlemen are fond of giving examples of western democracies to discredit the government for its alleged aversion to basic liberties. But I am afraid what they have been doing and continue to do, is outside the pale of fundamental rights. Had they resorted to such antics in Canada and Britain, they would have found themselves behind bars for the greater part of their lives. There is no concept of unbridled liberties any where in the world. Every right has a corresponding duty towards the state.
It seems that whoever wrote the script of their campaigns was terribly out of touch with new realities and did not have a plan B in case of Plan A’s failure. In view of the developments that have taken place since the launch of their marches and the revelations made by Javed Hashmi and others, it is now crystal clear that the coming together of Imran and Qadri was indeed part of a conspiracy to oust Nawaz from power, weaved by its authors around the false impression of the third force intervening to bring about the drop scene of the proposed plan. That has not happened as the praetorian powers who were, according to the written script, supposed to raise the finger have categorically distanced themselves from their campaigns and expressed their unqualified support to democracy and upholding the sanctity of the constitution.
Under the circumstances, the advisable course for them is to abandon their sit-ins and join the other political forces in consolidating the gains of democracy and change that has already been set rolling, and to make their own contributions to this transformation if they really intend to change the fate of the masses. They must stop entertaining the illusion that a positive change was possible by any means other than that prescribed in the Constitution. People do not need a “Naya Pakistan.” They need Quaid’s Pakistan, where democracy and constitutional rule act as a catalyst for evolutionary change.
Speaking of change, it is hard to contest the view that things have improved, as compared to the crass politics of the 90s and the military adventurism that disrupted the process of the consolidation of democracy. The country, for the first time, has witnessed a transition of power from one government to another through the ballot. The 18th, 19th and 20th amendments have been adopted through consensus amongst all political parties aimed at removing the distortions in the Constitution and ensuring provincial autonomy besides resolving other contentious issues. The adoption of the 7th NFC Award again through consensus and the spirit of accommodation shown by political parties, also represents a monumental change in the distribution of resources from the divisible pool.
For the first time, in the face of the threat posed to democracy by Imran and Qadri, all the political parties, parliament, civil society, lawyers’ community, media representative bodies and judiciary are standing united to defend the Constitution. Even the Army has expressed unqualified support for democracy and the Constitution. That is the biggest ever change in the political culture of this country; a development which augurs well for the future of democracy and constitutional rule as prescribed and envisioned by the founding father. There is already growing demand across the country for reforms in the system of governance and the way we elect our representatives.
The campaigns by Imran and Qadri have failed to realize their main objective but by default have brought the issue of changing the system into sharp focus. Almost all political forces represented in Parliament readily agree to the proposition. The government has already conceded five demands of the PTI including the formation of a judicial commission to probe allegations of rigging and the Constitution of a parliamentary committee on electoral reforms. The government has also tried to resolve the impasse by holding talks with the PAT. Most political analysts and media commentators consider these developments a constructive and positive change. They also provide a face saving exit to both Imran and Qadri, who by claiming them as successes of their campaigns should call off their sit-ins.
Imran Khan who is a public leader in his own right, must not squander away the political gains that his party has made in previous elections and must remain part of the reforms’ process while sitting in Parliament. The lure of becoming Prime Minister of the country without further loss of time through unconstitutional means, an illusion which haunts him like an obsession, must give way to sanity. It is simply not possible in view of new realities and the changes that have already occurred. He should wait for the next elections under a reformed system, which will evolve with the consensus of all political forces. The only way he can fulfil his dreams is through winning the public franchise.
Qadri who does not even qualify for being a member of Parliament and as per the decision of the Supreme Court of 14th February 2013, does not have the right to express no-confidence in the Parliament of Pakistan, also needs to revisit his conduct. If he is so appalled by the plight of the poor people, he should renounce his Canadian citizenship, join the political mainstream and participate in coming elections to prove his support amongst the masses. The days of night raids on power are over, and the sooner Imran and Qadri get this realisation into their heads, the better.

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