Mission accomplished for Pakistan’s invisible forces…

March 13, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , Pakistan , POLITICS

Reuters photo



Imad Zafar



But the fight for democracy and civilian supremacy is not in any way lost 



Finally the mission has been accomplished. Sadiq Sanjrani, an establishment-backed candidate from the independent group instrumental in toppling the PML-N government in Baluchistan is being elected as chairman of the Senate. A dark day for democracy where not only the invisible forces managed to install puppets as chairman and deputy chairman in the Senate, but also a progressive political party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, joined the ranks of undemocratic forces.


The alliance of Asif Ali Zardari and Imran Khan would not have been deemed undemocratic had there been no involvement of the establishment. Imran Khan is a pawn and irrelevant on the political horizon without the support of the establishment but Asif Zardari has damaged the credibility and sacrifices given by the PPP for democracy. Zardari may have saved the day for the PPP as joining hands with the establishment means he and his party will get a good share of the cake in the next general election.


The way things are going, it seems that Nawaz Sharif will not be allowed to take anything from the coming general election. After hijacking the Senate the plan of the establishment is to put Sharif and his daughter behind bars and impose a ban on Sharif’s speeches stopping him from running the election campaign of his party, something which can be sought through the courts. The real test for Sharif and his party begins now and he has to prove his mettle by keeping his party intact until the coming elections.


The plan is simple and clear, while the Senate is being controlled through the puppets, the target now is to make an alliance of Imran and Asif Zardari in Punjab so they can defeat Sharif and his party. As per the plan electables from Sharif’s PML-N will be brought to both PPP and PTI, and instead of joining hands formally, both Zardari and Imran will make seat adjustments in the coming elections.


There is another dimension to the plan, the amendment or repelling of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution which has given autonomy to the provinces. In a surprising move the Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa invited selected journalists and during his off the record conversation told them he is of the view that the 18th amendment should be amended. He further stated that the current government is responsible for the failure of Pakistan’s National Action Plan which was devised to counter terrorism, the Army Chief blaming ex finance minister Ishaq Dar for the inclusion of Pakistan’s name in the FATF grey list. He also told selected journalists that the Army will stand with the judiciary, giving a clear signal that if Sharif is thinking of a campaign or agitation against the judiciary, the Army will not allow it.


If this information leaked in the press is correct and the Army Chief said exactly the same words, then Sharif and his party have very tough days ahead. On the other hand it further raises the question as to which capacity General Bajwa, a servant of the Federal Government, can blame his own bosses for the failure of the policies which were never actually in the hands of the civilian governments. It also creates further suspicion and doubts on the possible nexus of the military and judiciary and strengthens the narrative of Sharif and his party.


As far as the Senate election is concerned, the defeat of Sharif and his party is not a concern, as the battle for civilian supremacy and democracy is nerve wracking and a temporary victory and defeats cannot decide the final outcome of this battle. In fact it does not matter whether Sharif and his allies come to power again or not as the real point to win the battle is the narrative of democracy getting stronger. Sharif and his allies can strengthen the pro-democracy and progressive narrative even sitting in the opposition. It is the narrative and its popularity that has dented the establishment heavily and the damage is now beyond their control. The masses are gradually learning that the actual power does not lie with the elected representative and they are starting to question the forces who are pulling the strings from behind.


The senator from Baluchistan, including the chairman and deputy chairman, are termed as “Askari senators” (Military senators) by a segment of the masses, even the diehard supporters of the PTI and PPP finding it difficult to justify their parties aligning with the establishment. The masses have begun raising the question on social media and in private conversations as to why the courts cannot take up cases of DHA and Bahria Town, why Adnan Kayani and the generals involved in NCL scams cannot be brought to the court of law.


The role of the establishment in undermining elected governments and democracy is being discussed everywhere in the country and this is a big achievement. This is a sign that the narrative of democratic and progressive forces is winning and if Sharif and his party are sincere with the democracy and progressive narrative then they should not be worried to grab power or survive in the corridors of power. The anti-establishment path and fight for civilian supremacy is not easy and demands sacrifices. Sharif can only expect the masses to sacrifice if he is ready to face the music and not be afraid of losing power. There will be a lot of difficulties throughout and attempts will be made to eliminate his party from the political horizon, but if he can sustain the pressure and survives this hard time, he will surely emerge as victor.


If Sharif does not win, even then the democratic and progressive forces will not lose, as the ideologies, unlike the mandate, can never be hijacked nor can they be killed through guns. If you ask any of the great leaders in the world they will tell you that battles are not won by the might they are always won by the ideologies; as long as an ideology exists it is never defeated. For Sharif he needs to press even harder and needs more and more public gatherings to strengthen support for his narrative.


But Sharif has to now decide once and for all, is he still willing to go all out and challenge the establishment wholeheartedly without seeking a deal or an accord from behind the channel through his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif or the global players. Though Sharif seems to be in no mood for compromise there are still suspicions and doubts on his younger brother Shehbaz who does not like the anti-establishment narrative. If Sharif is true to his cause, then he should not refrain from naming the forces who are controlling the political proceedings from behind the curtain, and who are thought to be on the back of controversial judicial decisions. So far Sharif has been strengthening the democratic narrative but has not been vocal about the establishment. He only criticises the judiciary, while the fact remains it is the establishment that is pulling the strings.


While the PPP and PTI may get short term benefits, they have actually played a role in undermining democracy. The way they both supported the establishment and played a role in the ‘horse trading’ will always remain a black stain on their political parties. The only way both Mr Khan and Zardari can win Punjab in the next elections is if Sharif’s PML-N is dismantled and Sharif is not allowed to run the election campaign. Any election without the largest political party and the most popular leader of the country will never have credibility nor the support of the masses. Even if we assume that elections will be held the same way as the Senate elections were held, only a hung parliament will emerge and again the next PM will be another pawn chosen by the establishment; it will not be Mr Khan nor any of Zardari’s men.


Whose narrative will prevail, only time will tell, but the hegemony of the invisible forces over state affairs and their status of “Holy Cow” is already being questioned and criticized. This is a step towards a democratic society and the people challenging the hegemony of the faith merchants over the religious interpretations and the use of contempt laws for their own gain is also a positive sign for the progressive segment of societies. All is not lost and as long as sanity prevails and the democratic and progressive narrative is alive it will one day prevail over the undemocratic forces and faith merchants. A tactical retreat or minor defeat does not determine the outcome of the battle. The puppets can never earn respect nor can they legitimize the undermining of democracy and progress of society.





Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar is a journalist based in Lahore. He is a regular Columnist/Commentator in newspapers. He is associated with TV channels, radio, newspapers, news agencies, political, policies and media related think tanks.


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1 Comment

  1. Abdul wahab March 13, at 18:32

    Great analysis Imad sb. Sharif should go all out to defend democracy.


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