Political Dissent: Dharnas in Islamabad

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Dharnas, islamabad, PAT, PML-N, Political Dissent, PTI

The argument starts with some critical questions which need investigative and deliberative answers. It is highly likely that some answers of the questions could not be answered as the political dissent with the political discourse in Pakistan is widening. The political crowd under the banner of PTI and PAT gathered in Islamabad came with two demands. PTI views 11 May 2013 election rigged and their mandate is stolen by the ruling party PLMN in a systematic way with the help of some key actors from Election Commission, Judiciary, Media and Caretaking government. Model Town massacre forced PAT for political agitation. Finally, their demands ultimately resided on the resignation of the Prime Minister and Chief Minister of Punjab—the two Sharifs in power. Now, the political dissent is on the peak for three weeks and the dharnas have almost completed the first month.

A close look at the proceedings and the marathon media coverage of the dharnas in Islamabad germinate some key questions regarding the output of the political sit-in on the Constitutional Avenue.  What is there for the messes in the dharnas? Does the existing system needs reforms—political and electoral? Finally, the key question, is there any roam for unconstitutional intervention in the current political system from any institution? These are some of the pinching questions in the current political discourse in Pakistan.

Numbers does matter in any science, likewise numbers also matter in the success of any street protest or march. Although, figures claimed by PTI and PAT was skyrocketing; but, as the time passed, the participation of the two protests can be count on fingers. However, the media coverage was so large that the message they carried was echo in the every street, even in the power corridors. From a political angel, it seems the charges laid against the ruling government get endorsement in the silent corners of the society. People from all corners of life are discussing the deteriorating political situation in the capital. It seems that the lower, middle and upper middle class are very much interested in the contemporary dynamic political discourse. However, we must be very careful that the language used for political sledge hammering and mud sledging by dissenting parties is setting the future trends. Although, the political leadership is already serving their vested political interests, but they must be aware of this fact that when violence is introduced in the politics, the whole political process get on the slippery road where the end seems disastrous. In addition to this, the leaders must acknowledge that the state need proper governance in its true letter and spirit. But, it seems that governance is not in their business as far as PTI and PMLN is concerned. I think the common man is in favour of political activism in the country but not of the cost of compromising their basic rights and facilities, which only come thorough good governance.

PTI claimed that last year elections involved systematic rigging to steal their mandate in Punjab. In fact, every losing party in Punjab made similar kind of allegations. But, if we just make a review of the existing laws in the electoral system it seem that these law are stringent enough to stop pre and post-election rigging. I am not an expert of law, but the allegation by PTI make to read the existing laws of election commission.  I would consider PTI political slogans that it is quite plausible that a systematic rigging  has been done, but once again, no one has the authority to make allegations and give his verdict in one breath, which is not political possible. Similarly, actors from Election Commission, Judiciary, and Media are name by Imran Khan, however, the irregularities in the existing laws are not mentioned anywhere, which make PTI political vulnerable. Moreover, I think there is a very small roam for any electoral reforms since PTI lack overwhelm majority in the parliament to amend the laws. Therefore, the only way to make reforms is thorough the negotiating table which consent from all stakeholders in the parliament under the umbrella of the constitution of Pakistan.

The political crisis got heat up when the most prestigious institution of Pakistan, the Pak Army was sucked in the crisis. The political pundits were whispering about the possible military coup and still they are. But my question to them, is there any roam for them to rule Pakistan once again, since the army is battling against terrorists in NWA? Conspiracies were hatch that the mighty institutions is behind this political manoeuvring against the government. But, the till today, it turned out to be none other than a hoax. However, the demands of the protestors are still not adequately addressed by the government, no one predict what’s next for the political actors? For those who still believe that the Army is a political actor and its generals are politically motivated are living in the heaven of fools. I think the period of hatching the conspiracies against Pakistan army is now towards its logical end.

In conclusion, three things must be on the top of the agenda of every political parties of Pakistan. First, the internal and external security situation of the state is on the perilous road and it need countermeasures to address it. Secondly, the people of Pakistan need relief in the form of curbing economic inflammation. Last but not the least, the acceptation of the rule of law wholeheartedly. The political discourse can be matured and growth when the political dissent emerge, but it should be in a positive manner.

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studied from National Defence University and is a Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Islamabad. He tweets @ahmadkhan000

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