By: |Abdul Moiz Malik|
Political landscape in Pakistan seldom has a quite day. It never fails to bemuse you. The developments are so rapid that you can’t keep track of them and the balance keeps shifting. The dominance is always on a see saw; at one moment someone appears powerful and the next moment some else is making the calls.
It’s only been 22 days into the election years and the tide already seems to be shifting. Many contemplated that Panama Papers and the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif will be a robust jolt from which PMLN won’t be able to recover. The 5 – 0 decision was considered to be the commencement of Nawaz Sharif and PMLN’s demise.
They path for Imran Khan to become Prime Minister was – as perceived – clear. It was jubilation for PTI. They managed to side their most fierce nemesis. The prophecy was, by the time next general elections will arrive PMLN will disintegrate into many splinter groups thus making it easy for PTI to sweep polls. Everything appeared to be falling in line for PTI. They were ecstatic as they considered it a reward for their perseverant hard work.
For PMLN, it was all conspired and written somewhere else. They were skeptical.
They went down, but decided that they won’t stay down, and will rise with more ferociousness. In the first step, they reinstated Nawaz Sharif as the party head through legislation passed – fiendishly – in both houses. By the time this dupe divulged on the opposition, it was too late.
Nawaz Sharif was back. The ‘N’ in PMLN is back and this time he was more powerful.
This is when the things began to go awry. The script was no longer followed.
There weren’t immediate signs of this conundrum. PTI although managed to hold PMLN off in the by elections in NA 120, the seat vacated by Nawaz Sharif and contested by his wife. Although PMLN won, the actual victory was for PTI. They cut down PMLN’s lead sizably.
It was all going really well.
PTI was constantly mounting pressure on PMLN and was anticipating cracks within PMLN after the installation of a new head of state.
They thought that the court cases against Nawaz’s family will be unbearable and will definitely indict him and his daughter and his sons, resulting in sinking their ship. However, the heir apparent to the throne, Shehbaz Sharif will be taken care of in the Hudaibiya Case. In this way, the party will no longer remain consolidated, and with such a formidable force out, PTI will finally ascend to power.
But, all didn’t go as per plan.
The graft proceedings against Nawaz Sharif didn’t pose much trouble. Hudaibiya case was never reopened. Let alone cracks, not even a hint of defiance appeared in PMLN. ‘’Mujhe kyon nikala’’ garnered more support than expected and was starting to reverberate more than the adversaries imagined. The cogency of Panama Verdict started to deplete by time and people began questioning it to a point that judiciary had to revert to providing clarifications.
What once was a popular decision is now met with skeptical observations. Nawaz’s holistic campaign began to pay off. This coupled with fulminating pressers mobilized support that was supposed to go against him.
Keeping the Balochistan debacle aside, Nawaz Sharif and PMLN managed to fend off every crisis with aplomb. Every passing impediment increased the resolve of Nawaz Sharif. The government in centre has circumvented the tough period and is now firmly placed. They party’s dominance in its impregnable citadel i.e. Punjab, is intact. Opposition is facing tough time and the decision of Jehangir Tareen’s disqualification must have provided half hearted respite to Sharifs.
The recent flop show that was put on display by the combination of three opposition parties, where there were hoard of empty seats, has given PMLN the much needed impetus after the fall of Balochistan government.
The fact that Nawaz Sharif is drawing crowds in his jalsas and the opposition is unable to draw people must be an apprehension for those who were certain of PMLN’s downfall.
Opposition, especially PTI is frustrated and it is apparent.
Nawaz Sharif played the ‘victim card’ with relative success and pursued his voters that it was a sazish to oust him.
People believe in him, atleast it looks like it and the litmus test for it being the two by-elections that were held in recent times; both won by PMLN.
If going by what was expected to happen, PMLN should have been scattered by now, against it, it remained intact and apparently grew stronger.
There should have been curtains on Nawaz’s political career, rather he came back for what seems like an encore.
A unanimous verdict should have reduced the popularity en masse of the ruling party, it didn’t happen.
Nawaz and Shehbaz should have been entrenched in the labyrinth of their cases, but, they are free.
The loss of PMLN should have been the gain of others, it also never happened.
The allegations of embezzlement of Rs. 300 bn. should be gaining more voices, but, the theory that got more popularity was the ladla.
Judiciary apparently gave a popular verdict, but, now there are digressing from it in order to remove the cloud of doubts from it and to prove it being constitutional and not vindictive.
So who should breathe more easily at the moment?
Certainly not the opposition.
They not only have to scratch their heads and worry about their grim situation, they also have to ponder how they let such an advantageous position slip off. Why mass are hearing to Nawaz and why they’re speaking to empty chairs.
Increasing their worries is the fact that even if PMLN is getting fewer votes, there is no solace in it for them as they’re not gaining anything from it. The displaced votes are going to religious parties that are ominously gaining popularity and the trend appears to be rising.
If early elections are called, PMLN will be the most benefitted party. They can deflate the opposition parties if they can catch them by surprise, but their futile and extra ordinary interest in Senate elections might harm them. If – as they say – there is a conspiracy being hatched to bring them down, why provide those with more time? Why not call elections and win when things are going your way?
All being said, PMLN got unexpected advantage and upended the adverse to their favour. For oppositions, they should inspect other options to bring the brand ‘Nawaz Sharif’ down.
It can’t get more idiosyncratically Pakistani. They politics never fail to bemuse you. You’re winning one day and losing on the other. It can only happen in Pakistan.