THE prime minister is as good as gone. With the MQM’s departure, the coalition government has lost the sliver of a margin it stood on. There is at the moment not much that Prime Minister Imran Khan can do politically to prevent further desertions. The mysterious foreign letter he had hoped would rehabilitate his misfortunes seems now to have been of limited utility.
As things stand, any chances of his survival have dimmed considerably. Barring the hitherto ‘impartial observers’ inserting a deus ex machina into the plot, his ouster is a fait accompli. Speaking of which, there are doubts whether the neutral factions have indeed maintained an even keel till the end, and murmurs that theirs is a house divided by the looming changes in Islamabad.
Meanwhile, it is difficult not to feel cynical when time-tested turncoats lecture the nation on how their latest defection is, in fact, good for the country. It comes as no surprise that the MQM has once again opportunistically traded its political alliances for things it does not fairly deserve, calling it “in the interest of Pakistan”.
It is striking how the party has, over the years, displayed such a remarkable knack for finding itself on the treasury benches of every government formed since 1988, bar one. Its ‘pliability’, which is perhaps the politest way to describe it, is testament enough that it has no real principles on which to stand. How else would one describe its leaders’ change of heart when, after years of enjoying the perks of power, they so punctually decide to jump the fence when the grass starts looking greener on the other side?
What is unfortunate in all that has unfolded this week is that it is abundantly clear now that there is no real principle at play behind what is transpiring in Islamabad. All political forces have shown they are more than happy to play dirty if it means achieving the single objective of ensuring either the success or failure of the vote of no-confidence. The mandate given to each party by the people is being bartered or sold for a few votes here or there.
This no longer seems like a grand democratic victory for the opposition, which had started its campaign with slogans calling for respecting the vote and an elected, not selected prime minister. Instead, the campaign seems to have turned into a single-point agenda of taking down the PTI with whatever means necessary, even if it means lavishing favours on the same allies which had elevated it to power in the first place. On the other side, the prime minister has abandoned his principles after handing over all of Punjab to a party with barely a fraction of the right to govern it. There is little the citizenry can do but watch in despair.
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2022