The party is not over yet

The war on who rules Islamabad continues with Khan winning the first battle. Dismissal of the no-trust-move as per Article-5 and dissolution of the National Assembly under Article-58 of the Constitution respectively not only saved Khan from being disgracefully unseated as PM but also invited the Supreme Court on a Sunday to clear the air on a couple of legal and constitutional clauses. Simultaneously, the development tasked the joint opposition to go back to the drawing board, fight the constitutional battle and try bringing a couple of rabbits out of its pocket. The whole country was firstly stunned before going numb in experiencing the most unexpected anti-climax in the contemporary political history of Pakistan.
Politicians, political analysts, legal experts and tv anchors were seen completely bamboozled, taken aback and in some cases, check-mated. The flurry of important developments including the sacking of the Governor of Punjab and the inability of a province to elect the new Chief Minister looked unreal, unbelievable and suspenseful amidst applauds and dismay. Meanwhile, hopes of a favourable decision by the Apex Court and re-visiting Article-6 of the Constitution kept the hyped-up political atmosphere colorfully tense.
Khan chose to concede to the opposition’s demand of holding early general election. However, he wanted to do it in his own peculiarly determined manner. Honour and bravery took over all other considerations and defeating the opponents in the face of an imminent defeat became the paramount consideration. Losing was not an option for him. Perhaps, he belongs to that rare category of people who either win or learn but never defeated. Availing of the opportunity, through public gatherings and several addresses to the nation, he gained additional political space, paving the way to win the next election with greater numbers. In the process of averting the most serious challenge to his Government, he sacrificed a couple of advanced pawns like the Chief Minister and Governor of the ‘most valued province’; finally showed flexibility in reaching out to dissidents and allies; and learned a couple of important lessons of political science such as choosing the right candidates for his party.
Khan might also have learned the art of dealing with the ‘x’ factor if he were to retain the coveted post of the Chief Executive in any future Governmental set-up.
The un-natural alliance of opposition parties lost a golden chance to oust Khan, rule the country and fine-tune the next election’s plans for their respective parties. The establishment seemed indifferent to what the nation was experiencing in politics. The fears of a head-on collision between the ruling party and the opposition proved to be a diversion plan. From full attendance in the Assembly to the Speaker’s well written ruling to the dispatch of the Prime Minister’s advice to the President dissolving the Assembly and its quick approval to the opposition’s approaching the Supreme Court for an extra-ordinary session to interpret the ruling and subsequent developments. Every chip fell in place within minutes. It looked like a well-designed ‘plan’ rather than a ‘surprise’ raising doubts and a few eyebrows in Islamabad. Could Khan have envisaged such a flawless plan entirely on his own when reportedly even his Cabinet members were caught unaware of its details?
If the hatching of a regime-change plan was true, one feels sorry for smart and suave strategists in Washington. If the contents of Pak Ambassador’s containing a ‘threat’ to Khan’s Government were true and the National Security Council actually believed so, one feels sorry for the sole superpower of the world that must be ruing over a ‘grave miscalculation’. Washington must be feeling extremely embarrassed over yet another policy failure in South Asia if at all it opened the dollar-bag to buy certain PTI dissidents’ loyalties. If the idea was to have an ‘amenable’ Governmental set-up in Islamabad that could take the country out of China’s lap and place it in India’s safe hands, the US must be as shocked as every Pakistani over Khan’s ‘surprise’. Come to think of it, some sort of a regime-change has actually taken place in Pakistan albeit not exactly as visualised by the imaginary game-changers.
In this space, on March 28, a few scenarios were made with regard to the no-trust-motion. One of them was as follows:
‘In order to see the democratic system functioning and letting the Army stay away from politics, the Supreme Court comes with its own trump card, saving all stakeholders from embarrassment and proposing a win-win situation. Some unique interpretation of some law from the Apex Court is issued, bringing everything to a stand-still situation and all future steps are put on hold for an indefinite period of time. Simultaneously, a fresh election is called and life comes to normal with all political parties going back to the drawing board.’
What is going to happen in Pakistan now? That is a million-dollar question. Surely, one will have to wait for the considered opinion and interpretation of a couple of the Constitution’s clauses by the Supreme Court. Until that time, the resilient people of Pakistan can keep themselves busy in dealing with their grocery bills during Ramadan. Hopefully, the buck stops after the Supreme Court’s interpretation and guidance. In all likelihood, the losing side will be seen complaining and the winners would be busy in distributing sweets. This is Pakistan.

The writer is a former Ambassador of Pakistan and author of eight books in three languages. He can be reached at

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt