Almost like a death wish, Prime Minister Gilani and his cronies have been telling people they trust for some weeks that all their opponents would gang up to topple their government, “latest by October 2011.” When asked why this particular month, a hackneyed set of arguments followed.
In March 2012, we were told, half of the Senate seats would fall vacant. With its present strength in the national and provincial assemblies, the PPP is set to fill most of those seats, making it the single largest party in the upper house. Since no government can legislate without commanding a majority in the Senate, the numerical realities of parliamentary politics after March 2012 will keep PPP formidably relevant, even if it fails to get a majority in the next election. All anti-PPP forces, of course, will unite and try to deny it that edge.
I have been dismissing the above-stated scenario as gloomy thoughts of a defeatist mind. The PPP appears to be focusing on tactics rather than strategy. However, far more important at the moment is the fact that the street-hardened hawk of the PML-N from Lahore, Khawaja Saad Rafique, appeared to fulfill the death wish of PPP ministers.
In an ominous speech in the national assembly on Tuesday, he deliberately took the microphone at a time when the house was about to be adjourned.
“The days of your government are numbered,” he thundered while slapping his desk. “Within this month, we [the PML-N] will set up a picket outside the president’s office.” No PML-N leader was willing to give the inside scoop on the planned sit-in but after extracting vows of secrecy, a Raiwind-insider told me that Thursday was the D-day.
According to the plan, apparently ‘only the PML-N legislators’ would march towards the presidency on Thursday, chanting slogans against President Zardari and chronic load-shedding. Courtesy live coverage of our 24/7 television networks, ‘the legislators’ march towards presidency’ can also inspire hordes of angry mobs to ‘spontaneously’ join them. If the crowd swells, ‘the leaders’ can always decide to stay put in front of the presidency, until Zardari resigns.
But what happens next? Who would convince Zardari to call it quits? Gilani? Someone from Rawalpindi may need to land at presidency to convey the bad news. A few phone calls are also needed from Washington. But even after all of that, who would ensure free, fair and impartial elections that would bring Nawaz Sharif back to Prime Minister’s office.
Since 1969, we have seen many governments going home due to the rage on the streets. It always took a man in khaki to restore order. He promises elections, but after taking over, asks the praetorian aides to set things for ‘real democracy.’ The ‘corrupt’ political class needed to be sorted out before the cherished democratic order was put into practice. Nothing of the sort happens in the end. After a few years of a military leader, we get DAC, MRD or Charter of Democracy and life goes on. Despite cynically viewing the political scene of this country for many years, I still desire for things to move in a different pattern this time round. Alas, if wishes were horses!
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2011.