The politics of Pakistan are devoid of anything resembling an ethical or moral framework. There are no red lines, no border that cannot be crossed, no coat that cannot be turned or floor crossed. The electorate trail sheep-like behind a raggle-taggle of hereditary feudals and fading sportsmen all with a leavening of clerics. Dharnas come and go, containers are railed from atop of and yes, alliances, gossamer thin and conjured out of thin air are made — the latest between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek. The leaders of both met on Thursday 7th December and emerged to declare that they were working together to start a movement against the Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N) and demanded the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the light of the admittedly damning report on the 2014 Model Town clash. Later, the same day the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf phoned the PAT leader and pledged his support as well.
At one level this is to be applauded. The Model Town incident was appalling, heads should have rolled in the political and police ranks and the report exposes in stark detail the guilty men, and names them. Why not form an alliance to bring justice to the families of the dead and injured? Turn the card over and there is the 2018 general election. This grand alliance although notionally spurred by a textbook example of political incompetence and police overreach and brutality, is more about eroding the vote bank of the PML-N in Punjab than it is about righting a dreadful wrong. A display of unity around an issue of core importance to the national moral fabric is a polished optic, a vehicle from which an assault may be mounted on the PML-N primacy in Punjab.
Cynical as this may be the reality is that no matter what the coming together may represent, it is a unity built on sand and will disintegrate as the election draws nigh, just as all the other ‘alliances’ have over the months and years. Justice for Model Town victims? Dream on.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2017.
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