Naya Pakistan: Created by the architects of the Establishment

August 6, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , Pakistan , POLITICS

Reuters photo

 

By

Imad Zafar

 

 

The general elections in Pakistan are over. Finally the puppet of the establishment Imran Khan has emerged the winner. All major political parties in Pakistan have categorically refused to accept the results of the general elections, raising serious objections on the results. The main reason for this is due to the unusual delay in announcing the results of the constituencies, in addition to discrepancies in making and issuing the form 45. Almost all political parties, other than PTI, are levelling allegations of mass rigging.

 

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has actually given the opportunity to political parties to raise the rigging issue, its result management system not proving efficient, nor were its staff in the polling booths quick to get the votes cast in a timely manner. As a result, the polling process initially took so long and then strangely the results were held until the next night. This seriously raises the question as to who was instructing the Returning Officers (RO) and District Returning Officers (DRO) to hold the results. When the election management system collapsed or was not used by the majority of the ROs, why did the ROs not immediately send the results to DROs and instead wait for so long?

 

After the allegation of the pre-poll rigging, the ECP could have allowed the polling agents to carry their mobile phones into the polling stations so that real-time videos could be uploaded and if anyone is making false claims of rigging the opponent polling agent could prove him wrong. Contrary to that, in most of the polling stations polling agents complained they were not even allowed to remain in the room while the counting of ballots was in progress. Many complained that incomplete form 45s were given to them. There is some recorded evidence in this regard where the videos were made by hidden mobile phones.

 

It is pertinent to note also that the result of Shah Mehmood Qureshi‘s Multan constituency was announced within a few hours whereas the result of Bilawal Bhutto‘s constituency and other constituencies in Karachi and Lahore were held for more than 30 hours. One wonders why it took the ECP so much time, even if the results were coming by road, they would have made it in 15 to 16 hours.

 

In any case, as a result of the elections, the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has won around 115 seats in the National Assembly while Sharif’s PML-N managed to win 64. It was expected that to rule from behind the curtain, the establishment will bring in a new puppet. The encouraging thing however, is that in the province of Punjab Sharif’s PML-N has emerged as the single largest party and will likely be making a government in Punjab depending on the approval of the military establishment.

 

The Khan-led PTI will from the federal government and the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and if an obedient Shehbaz Sharif is no longer required by the military establishment then the PTI will also form a provincial government in the province of Punjab, while the PPP will form a government in the province of Sindh. Finally, the architects of “Naya Pakistan“, with the help of a suspicious delay in electoral results and massive pre-poll rigging, have created the New Pakistan.

 

Imran Khan is the new face of the invisible rulers of the country who have ruled since the era of General Ayub Khan. As long as Sharif’s PML-N is concerned it was doomed the moment Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz took charge of the electoral campaign. Shehbaz, while in a bid to appease the establishment, undermined the narrative of his elder brother and in his efforts to appease, lost the tempo set by Sharif and Maryam Nawaz.

 

Elsewhere, the Asif Ali Zardari-led PPP managed to retain the seats from the province of Sindh. They may be complaining about rigging and worried about losing Karachi but they still know they got the share of the cake, so will be more than happy to work with the establishment. More than any political player it is the military establishment that will be feeling happier and relaxed as it achieved the desired target. A coalition government of PTI in the center and in the province of Punjab is an ideal situation for them as both the ruling PTI and Shehbaz-led PML-N in opposition will easily be dictated.

 

However, all is not good as the war of narratives is not won by the establishment as Sharif’s narrative of ‘respect my vote’ is pretty much alive and a sizeable chunk of the population of Punjab still believe in Sharif’s narrative. If Sharif could have empowered the genuine anti-establishment political leaders like Mushahid Ullah Khan, Pervaiz Rashid or Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, things would have been different for him. By choosing an anti-establishment path the mistake Sharif made was relying on his brother Shehbaz Sharif, who does not want to challenge the status quo. As Sharif is a new entrant to anti-establishment politics, time will probably teach him that this path needs a team that is clear in vision and not afraid to take on the powers that be.

 

For the PTI, they have won and it does not matter that victory was handed to them by the invisible forces. How Imran Khan should act from now onwards will determine the future course of the country and the PTI. With the military establishment behind him Imran Khan will find it easy to start a dialogue with India and to devise a new foreign policy regarding China and Afghanistan dictated by the military establishment.

 

If Imran Khan can somehow deliver on the economic front and initiate some mega development projects in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, he might be able to get out of the shadow of the military establishment. As long as the military establishment is in power and controlling proceedings from behind the curtain, no politician will be able to address the basic flaw in the system of Pakistan. One hope is that Imran Khan will not meet the same fate like all previously elected Prime Ministers of Pakistan.

 

Whether the Election Commission of Pakistan was helpless or intentionally aligned with the actual “architects” of the Naya Pakistan still remains a question and if the ECP wants to avoid controversies in future, it needs to restructure its policies and change their approach on polling day as by not allowing the media into the polling stations and asking Army personnel to stand inside the booths, they has damaged the credibility of the institution itself.

 

The tweet from DG ISPR was also a very unwise decision in which he quoted a Quranic ayat to send the message that it is God who gives respect to the people and takes it away. It gave the message that even the Army was favoring a specific political party and this tweet acted as salt in the wounds of the other political party supporters.

 

Since the Naya Pakistan has been created we hope the architects will not now declare the current ruling leadership as traitors or Modi ka yaar, nor that the blasphemy card will be played against the current ruling party. The cost to build Naya Pakistan seems pretty high as in the process many state institutions including the ECP have lost their credibility. The road to civilian and democratic supremacy still remains a dream for many in the Jinnah’s Pakistan.

 

Finally, Naya Pakistan, conceived by the retired General Shuja Pasha, has been created and all its architects should be congratulated. Will a Naya Pakistan established by the establishment at the cost of compromising the credibility of the institutions be worth it, only time will tell. For now the Old Pakistan is being offloaded until someone like Shuja Pasha one day finds that the elected representatives of the Naya Pakistan are asserting authorities on foreign and domestic fronts; let’s upload the Old Pakistan always.

 

 

 

 

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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