THERE is renewed talk of regime change in Punjab.
Just a few days after local media, quoting sources, started reporting about a PDM plan for another ‘in-house change’ in the province, PTI chairman Imran Khan has once again pointed his finger at the mysterious ‘Mr X’ and ‘Mr Y’ — the alphabet bogeymen of modern Pakistani politics.
The former prime minister claims the two individuals, understood to be from national security institutions, are leading an effort to once again overthrow the coalition government in the country’s largest province. Mr Khan has claimed that they are calling PTI and PML-Q lawmakers and either tempting them with bribes or coercing them to change their allegiances.
Read: Politics in times of calamity
Mr X and Mr Y had earlier featured in Mr Khan’s speeches ahead of the crucial July by-elections in Punjab, when he first accused them of engineering the elections to ensure a victory for the PML-N. His fears then had not completely materialised, however, as the PTI managed to seize more than the expected number of seats in those polls and retake the Punjab government with the help of its old ally, the PML-Q.
It is unclear at the moment whether Mr Khan, who has recently grown increasingly confrontational in his stand-off with both the establishment and the government, has a genuine reason to believe that the prized domain of Punjab is once again being wrested from him to cut him down to size, or whether he was just bolstering his victimhood narrative ahead of the by-polls originally scheduled for Sept 11, as he did in July.
Whatever the case may be, it is clear from the blanket censorship he has recently been subjected to that some quarters wish him gone. Driving his party out of the Punjab government would, in his opponents’ view, greatly restrict the space Mr Khan currently enjoys as he canvasses up and down the province to win public support.
Editorial: Blocking Imran's speeches on YouTube does not work in democracy or PDM's favour
Restricting Mr Khan would also give the PML-N the room that the party desperately needs to stretch its wings and reach its core constituencies in Punjab, which it has remained physically isolated from ever since the PML-Q took control of the provincial administration.
This is political drama that Pakistan really does not need.
It is a shame that the country’s politicians and other power players are still showing no signs that they can reach an arrangement to coexist, if only so that could provide some measure of stability to a nation which is being roiled by a worsening economic crisis and the countrywide destruction caused by relentless rains and floods.
The game of musical chairs in Punjab is a disgraceful reflection of our power elites’ priorities during a grave national crisis and is a testament to their shameless self-interest at a time when millions have been rendered destitute by the widespread floods which should have headed the list of national concerns.
Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2022