Vox populi

Published March 22, 2023

OUR current, ostensibly democratic political dispensation seems in quite a hurry to metamorphose into a classical Third World dictatorship. With the PDM government closing ranks with the military over what appears to be a shared agenda to punish the PTI for its transgressions — some real, others completely imaginary — a dangerous precedent is about to be set.

It may poison Pakistani democracy for years to come. Just days after PML-N’s vice president Maryam Nawaz started dictating to the government that the country’s largest political party ought to be considered and treated as a terrorist outfit, Islamabad’s entire narrative machinery has been unable to talk about anything else.

The state, too, has appeared quite eager to oblige, sanctioning and launching a sweeping crackdown on the PTI’s workers and second-tier leadership, pulling them from their homes and workplaces and threatening them or booking them under charges as extreme as terrorism.

That this gradual dismantling of the edifice of our democracy is being overseen and cheered on by the father-daughter duo who, merely years ago, were clamouring for public support with the ‘Vote ko izzat do’ (respect the vote) slogan, is a grave and regrettable tragedy.

One expected Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz to show at least a perfunctory commitment to their professed principles once the PML-N returned to power; instead, the government in Islamabad seems to be borrowing even its vocabulary from a dictator’s playbook.

In no self-respecting democracy does a government talk about ‘purging’ the country of its rivals, or consider banning a political party by declaring it either a ‘terrorist’ outfit or a “gang of miscreants trained by banned organisations”, as the Monday meetings did. These are the fantasies of authoritarians and absolutists, not politicians selected to rule by vox populi.

We hear now that the military leadership and government have decided between themselves that elections to all assemblies ought to be held simultaneously. If the decision has been taken, then elections must be called immediately.

The Constitution explicitly calls for elections to the assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within 90 days of the dissolution of their respective assemblies. The Supreme Court, too, has only recently reiterated that prescription. If all elections are to be held together, they must be held within this timeline.

They should remember that no force will be enough to legitimise their actions if they are deemed to have conspired together to subvert the Constitution just to prevent the PTI from securing a mandate from the public. If the PML-N will not see reason, the other parties should reconsider their role in this ugly game.

History will not judge kindly those who throw the laws of this land in the bin in their blind desperation to keep just one man and one political party away from power.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Unyielding onslaught
Updated 13 Jun, 2024

Unyielding onslaught

SEVEN soldiers paid the ultimate price in Lakki Marwat on Sunday when their vehicle was blown up in an IED attack,...
X diplomacy
Updated 12 Jun, 2024

X diplomacy

Both states can pursue adversarial policies, or come to the negotiating table and frankly discuss all outstanding issues, which can be tackled through dialogue.
Strange decisions
12 Jun, 2024

Strange decisions

THE ECP continues to wade deeper and deeper into controversy. Through its most recent decision, it had granted major...
Interest rate cut
Updated 11 Jun, 2024

Interest rate cut

The decision underscores SBP’s confidence that economic stability is gaining traction.
Rampant zealotry
11 Jun, 2024

Rampant zealotry

Decades of myopic policies pursued by the state have further aided the radicalisation of significant portions of the population.
Cricket breakdown
11 Jun, 2024

Cricket breakdown

THERE was a feeling that Pakistan had finally turned the corner in their T20 World Cup campaign. Sadly, it was only ...