Mixing the old with old?
This is a cross post from Weekly Pulse
Amir Dogar pulled no punches about being supported by PTI- scion of a family that has supported PPP for three generations, himself having served as the PPP South Punjab general secretary, his win over Javed Hashmi may be viewed by some as maintenance of the status quo rather than promotion of a break from it. But wait, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
What exactly is happening in Pakistan today?
On the ‘dharna politics front’ huge crowds attracted by PTI earlier have been petering thin. They have been huge; no question about that. They are exuberant people who want to see a change. The red and green supporters look for dynamism in leadership, end to corruption, and ease in the lives of millions of Pakistanis. This is the ‘Naya Pakistan’ they are looking eagerly forward to. PTI failed to strike a deal with the beleaguered Federal Government on any front; the well organized crowds notwithstanding. It was not successful in bringing the government to its knees and bringing about its ouster. Tahir-ul-Qadri having thrown in his lot with PTI- following the Model Town tragedy brought out students from Minhaj-ul-Quran International. He with is supporters was part of a ‘dharna’ since August 2014, camping outside of Pakistan’s Parliament building having recently announced taking the ‘dharna’ to different cities of Pakistan.
However, PTI is determined to stay put at the Constitution Avenue until the PM quits office. Khan’s party has already held huge rallies in Multan, Lahore as well as in Karachi. The steam has however obviously let off….. the steak is no longer sizzling. The aroma has escaped the dish, which has turned cold.
The government was in a classic catch 22 situation. Upon PTI demanding investigating alleged irregularities in four constituencies, PML N turned around and demanded investigation of same number of constituencies where seats were won by PTI. Had PML N agreed without this clause to PTI’s demand and had irregularities showed up, this would have brought the entire election process in question. Therefore, they did the predictable; they did nothing. Imran needs to realize something in his act has to change in order to get some mileage from the long drawn out campaign. The Model Town PAT workers’ killings had placed both PTI and PAT on the same boat. However, the present following of different policies by both parties will strengthen the hand of the present political dispensation.
Looking beyond the dharna politics, once again we see that MQM has fallen out with PPP. May one dare add; once again? Bilawal, tipped to be the new face of his party, in a rally in Karachi, recently, organized to launch him, he stood atop a bus at the spot his mother; Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. To his credit, young Bhutto did not mince words when he condemned harshly not only the Pakistan Taliban but also similar other outfits. The 26 year old scion of the Bhutto family according to a leading English daily, “warned Altaf Hussain to control his “Namaloom Afraad,” saying that “Uncle Altaf if my workers get a scratch, forget London police I (Bilawal) will make your life miserable.” According to the Economic Times, “The PPP, claimed that nearly one million people showed up for the rally the figures given by the security agencies and Sindh police differed drastically. The Sindh police put the attendance at 120,000 while the security agencies and home department put the figure at 100,000.The rally is also seen as significant as for years now the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) which represents the Urdu speaking population has held massive rallies that other parties have not been able to match in numbers.” (October 18, 2014)
MQM reacted as it was expected to react under the given circumstances. MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi in a press conference along with other members of the Rabitta Committee said, “ “MQM considers Bilawal’s statement a preplanned policy, as PPP patron-in-chief was reading his written speech.” (October 06, 2014) The advisors and ministers of MQM who had joined the PPP coalition government at the provincial level; resigned. Apparently Bilawal’s comment was not the only thing that led to this development, it was also Khursheed Shah’s comment that in his opinion the term ‘Mohajir’ is an insult. Action begets reaction. A report in a daily says, “But the choice of words Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui used while announcing his party’s decision to quit the provincial government tends to suggest that from now on their mismatching political aspirations are going to escalate and acquire ideological struggles. For one, instead of division of Sindh into ‘administrative units’, earlier proposed by MQM chief Atlaf Hussain and sharply contested by the PPP leadership – Bilawal had reacted to it by asserting ‘marvesoon marvesoon Sindh na desoon’ – he further upped the ante asking for more provinces for ‘better administration and more resources’.” Though Shah withdrew his comment, MQM’s reaction to Bilawal’s comment needs a closer look. Is this because MQM feels it should join PTI on a common platform? PTI’s popularity wave across the country may have warranted such a turn. Is there a smell of elections in the next year? Imran has created some momentum in his favor –the wind is giving him a push, if the elections are held sooner, he can surprise many but if held on schedule his party may not be able to gain dividends from the present momentum. The wind may well be taken out of its sails. Also, PTI’s performance at Khyber Paktoonkhwa will be brought sharply in focus in case of elections held per schedule.
MQM has held sway over Hyderabad ad Karachi for decades now. Antagonizing MQM at a juncture where not only political parties have joined hands to overthrow the coalition government with the future of the parties in power, tenuous at the best in the next elections is not exactly great timing. Further, many feel, that Bilawal’s assertion of ‘marvesoon marvesoon Sindh na desoon’ was too local, his speech revolved more around Sindh, Karachi and MQM. PPP however has always been a national party and more focus should have been awarded to national issues. What is however clear is that the PPP’s young Chairman’s speech is a sharp turn-around from the politics of reconciliation pursued by PPP. Or, was the speech meant to jolt the Pakistani political world? It certainly got the attention with a reaction that was unexpected. If this was the reason, it has set off a chain of reaction that may not be either ell timed or welcome for PPP. The fact that Nahid Abbasi with Dr Safdar Abbasi has launched a new PPP faction is not welcome news for PPP. Mr Abbasi elected President of the new faction is reported to have said, “Since the PPP had stopped following the vision of Z.A Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, it lost the last election badlly.” Sajida Mir, Sardar Hur Bokkhari, Gen (retired) Ahsan Ahmed, Nasir Khatak, Waqas Ahmed, Ibn-e-Rizvi and Fayaz Khan also spoke. A large number of workers from Kashmir and Gilgit Biltistan also attended the convention.” (The Dawn October 23, 2014)
The political cauldron is cooking. Time will tell which hand holds the till.
The writer is a political analyst and Author of, “A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.” She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets at: @yasmeen_9