Now that the Judicial Commission has given its report and the prime minister has ordered that it be made public, the expectation is that the government now focuses on more important things like good governance and a fight against corruption. Or possibly combat poverty or have a system in place to bring relief to those suffering on account of natural disasters.
Having said that, if recent statements by the PM and his younger brother are anything to go by, we are not really sure whether the report will allow us to move ahead. One recalls with some consternation how the country remained in limbo between August and December last year as the PTI dharna brought the country to a standstill. Let us hope not to repeat those episodes.
So far, the triumph has been of the PML-N and its allies. In a hastily arranged address to the nation, a visibly relieved Nawaz Sharif welcomed the report which he claimed had absolved his party of allegations of rigging in the 2013 general election. But the speech was somewhat below expectations.
Our PM talked about his party more than about the country. “Our hands were clean. We gave them everything because we were convinced of our innocence,” he told us, adding “The truth remained the truth and falsehood was defeated.”
One may recall that the deal was that the Nawaz Sharif government would resign if the allegations levelled were proven to be true. So it must have come as a relief to the prime minister that he will now be able to complete his tenure, barring any more unexpected dharnas or surprises. But what’s the plan now, Mr PM?
What we have seen is that the PM seems to be moving back once again. For example, the move by Punjab chief minister Shabaz Sharif demanding an inquiry into who was behind the dharna will only result in more mud-slinging and confrontation. This will get us nowhere.
All that remains is that Imran Khan and his party accept the on-ground reality and work towards the next general elections if they are to look for a change of government. This is easier said than done.
In his first public reaction to the verdict of the inquiry commission, Imran Khan demanded that the PM apologise to the nation “since the verdict had vindicated PTI’s demand of an inquiry into the May 2013 general election.” This makes us all a bit confused. Have no lessons been learnt?
What is more worrisome for us is not that we are unclear on who has been vindicated but that there stand two claimants to the victory stand. But then again, in the way politics is played in Pakistan, all this remains part of the game.
In the words of my colleague Fahd Hussain, all that matters now is 2018. In his column which appeared earlier in this paper, he has given advice to the PTI leader to keep his eye on the ball. Let us hope that Imran Khan’s party is able to deliver in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province where they have been given a mandate so that they have something to showcase at the time of the next general elections.
On a larger scale, what is the plan for taking Pakistan forward? The PM has undertaken in his post-report speech that the lot of the people in Pakistan will be better off by the end of the tenure of his government if compared to when he took office. Possibly this may hold true for the people of Punjab and KP provinces, but for the rest of Pakistan it is a sheer myth. Sindh continues to be run on an ad-hoc basis by a coalition of forces of which the leadership does not even reside here. So much for ownership of the province.
Our nation continues facing all sorts of challenges. Contrary to what our politicians and some scientists will have us believe, global warming is not a world conspiracy. We are once again facing the spectre of floods and all the death and destruction that goes with it. As has happened in the past, our government has been unable to make adequate provisions to save lives and help people. We now need to tackle the real problems our country is facing. If we don’t, it will be back to square one in 2018, if not worse.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2015.