Po­lit­i­cal sce­nario

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

The Se­nate chair­man's elec­tion came as a set­back to the rul­ing PML-N. Although the largest party in the Se­nate, PMLN could not man­age enough votes and was beaten by an un­likely com­bi­na­tion of PPP and PTI backed by small po­lit­i­cal groups. Some PML-N mem­bers also chimed in and played a role in the op­po­si­tion's sur­prise win. It was yet an­other re­verse that PML-N has suf­fered on both le­gal and po­lit­i­cal fronts in re­cent months. What hap­pened in the course of Se­nate chair­man's elec­tions was a cul­mi­na­tion of the po­lit­i­cal move ini­ti­ated by Asif Zar­dari in Balochis­tan as a re­sult of which the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment of Sar­dar Sanaullah Zehri was over­thrown.

The PPP-PTI part­ner­ship thwarted the PML-N's at­tempt to es­tab­lish con­trol over both houses of par­lia­ment. Win­ning the Se­nate elec­tion was par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for the rul­ing party to be able to change the laws in or­der to re­move the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of the for­mer prime min­is­ter. The Se­nate elec­tion had also as­sumed greater sig­nif­i­cance be­cause of ris­ing po­lit­i­cal po­lar­i­sa­tion and the ap­proach of the gen­eral elec­tions. Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif who has un­leashed a se­ries of vir­u­lent at­tacks on the ju­di­ciary had made no se­cret of his plans to bring in new leg­is­la­tion to cur­tail the pow­ers of the ju­di­ciary. Win­ning the Se­nate's top slot would have been a step to­wards that. So, the bat­tle was not just about the con­trol of the up­per house of par­lia­ment. The larger aim was to kill any pos­si­bil­ity of po­lit­i­cal re­vival of a twice dis­graced Nawaz Sharif. Se­nate chair­man­ship would have given a mas­sive moral and po­lit­i­cal boost to the PML-N Guide for Life.

Some ob­servers have in­ter­preted the Se­nate elec­tion re­sults as an in­di­ca­tor of the shape of things to come. The PML-N can­di­date not only lost but lost by a big mar­gin. The out­come was the re­sult of arch po­lit­i­cal ri­vals PPP and PTI co­a­lesc­ing into a mar­riage of con­ve­nience. An­a­lysts have ar­gued that although PPP and PTI are po­lit­i­cally and ide­o­log­i­cally far apart, the pos­si­bil­ity of seat ad­just­ment in the com­ing elec­tions and stray elec­toral al­liances against PM-N, the com­mon en­emy, can­not be ruled, es­pe­cially in the cru­cial prov­ince of Pun­jab. From an­other per­spec­tive, the out­come of the Se­nate chair­man elec­tion has fur­ther em­bit­tered the PML-N and deep­ened its an­i­mus against the Es­tab­lish­ment.

What fate now awaits Nawaz Sharif? His shrill speeches in pub­lic not­with­stand­ing, he is a pic­ture of a man sink­ing deeper into po­lit­i­cal de­pres­sion with each pass­ing day. The big­gest chal­lenge for him is to main­tain unity in PML-N ranks in the af­ter­math of the lat­est set­back. He is no longer of­fi­cial head of the party and with cor­rup­tion cases against him com­ing to a con­clud­ing stage, he seems to be fast los­ing his grip over the party ma­chine. In these cir­cum­stances de­fec­tions from the party are bound to grow in the com­ing days. The party is now di­vided be­tween Sharif loy­al­ists headed by Maryam Nawaz and sup­port­ers of Shah­baz Sharif who are in favour of evolv­ing an un­der­stand­ing with the Es­tab­lish­ment.

Sup­port for this line of ac­tion has gained trac­tion af­ter the lat­est warn­ing by the top military lead­er­ship that it stands with the ju­di­ciary in its ef­forts to bring the cor­rupt to ac­count and im­prove gov­er­nance for the so­lu­tion of peo­ple's ba­sic prob­lems of daily life. The grow­ing ju­di­cial ac­tivism is a di­rect re­sult of the fail­ure of the demo­cratic sys­tem to de­liver. The fact is that democ­racy in Pak­istan has over the years be­come a smoke­screen for rule by a small group of Sharif fam­ily mem­bers, which weak­ened civil­ian in­sti­tu­tions and par­lia­ment, cre­at­ing a vac­uum to be filled by non-po­lit­i­cal forces.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.