Transparent elections only solution to all crises, says Mushahid

Published March 5, 2023
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed speaking at a programme titled “Pakistan: past, present and future” at the sixth Sindh Literature Festival on March 4, 2023. — Screengrab from video on Facebook/SindhLiteratureFestivalSLF
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed speaking at a programme titled “Pakistan: past, present and future” at the sixth Sindh Literature Festival on March 4, 2023. — Screengrab from video on Facebook/SindhLiteratureFestivalSLF

• Believes PML-N had serious misunderstanding about PTI’s popularity
• Opines core issue is politics and economic crisis is its consequence

KARACHI: Seasoned politician Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed on Saturday said that a fair and transparent election after establishing the rules of the game was the only solution to all crises.

Speaking at a programme titled “Pakistan: past, present and future” at the sixth Sindh Literature Festival here, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz senator regretted that “Gen Ziaul Haq’s thinking” still prevailed as transparent elections were being avoided till some ‘positive outcome’ was achieved.

The event, held at the Arts Council Karachi, was moderated by journalist Mazhar Abbas.

He also believed that the political crisis in the country had been eased after finalising the date for the election in Punjab. “[But] I think confrontation must be avoided.”

He said that the roots of the current crises could be traced back to 2017 when Nawaz Sharif was removed through a “soft coup” and it was an “action replay” of that soft coup when Imran Khan was removed from power last year.

He said that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) committed a “political blunder” when it voluntarily joined the establishment at a time when Imran Khan’s popularity was at the lowest level. He said this was for the first time that an alliance had been made against “one political party”.

He said that politicians must be handled with political means only and not through sticks.

He opined that it was because of the use of administrative measures and sticks that it had become difficult now to handle Imran Khan. “Now the opposition is a force which could not be suppressed through sticks.”

Senator Syed said traditional establishment whose allies were judiciary, bureaucracy, business tycoons and media did not exist as it was now “divided”.

He regretted that as politicians did not play their role to resolve the crisis, it was now the judiciary which was playing that role.

‘New establishment’

He said that a “new establishment” was evolving and it would take time.

He said that it was true that political parties had weakened but the “all-powerful establishment” also no longer existed because of the emergence of multiple power centres.

“Traditional establishment has been replaced by five centres of power — the army chief, chief justice, Asif Zardari in Karachi, Nawaz Sharif in London and Imran Khan in Lahore,” he observed.

He said that it was for the first time that Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were demonstrating anti-establishment thinking.

The veteran politician said other parties like PML-N had made mistake by focusing on “electables”, but the PTI had mobilised youths, the middle class and silent majority in Punjab and KP and created “space” for them in electoral politics.

He said the PML-N had a “serious misunderstanding” about the popularity of the PTI as it did not realise that people in Lahore and Peshawar were fed up with traditional politics.

It was in the DNA of all politicians since Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that they wanted their “own” army chief but they did not have an understanding of the institution of the army, he said, adding that the politicians also did not understand that this institution even did not spare their own chief as Ayub was removed by Gen Yahya, who was removed by Gen Gul Hasan.

Similarly, he said, it was not the lawyers’ movement that removed Gen Musharraf, but it was the “deep state” which removed him because of his policy towards India. “The army chief had no personal loyalty as he is loyal to the institution.”

He said that the Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (PONM) was launched by the then establishment as the then army chief Gen Jahangir Karamat had used a sense of deprivation among smaller provinces in his speech as one of the charges against then premier Nawaz Sharif.

But, he said that Gen Karamat, who was asked to resign by the then PM Sharif, should have been handled “differently”.

About the Panama case, he said that Nawaz Sharif had followed legal advice and treated the case as legal despite the fact that it was a political case. “Nawaz Sharif should have boycotted the Supreme Court hearings when the then chief justice uttered the words of ‘Sicilian mafia’,” he said.

He said that it was the same mistake that then PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had committed. “Both the cases were of power politics and not legal one…they should have been fought politically.”

He did not agree with a questioner about the current economic crisis. “The core issue is of politics and the economic crisis is its consequence,” he said.

Besides IMF had bailed out Pakistan 23 times as successive rulers were not willing to end their vested interests and take measures to improve the economy.

He said extremism was the outcome of using religion for political and strategic purposes and its solution lies in following the vision of Quaid-i-Azam.

He said South Asia had a tradition of tolerance as compared to Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2023

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