Fixed matches

Published July 7, 2023

MUCH like the rug was pulled from under the PTI-led government in Azad Kashmir, the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly now seems to be in the crosshairs of those who want to drive out the last vestiges of the beleaguered party from all corridors of power. The PTI’s chief minister in the region was recently dismissed on a fake degree charge. A subsequent vote to elect his replacement has been blocked by force in circumstances that can only be described as a farce. After the manner in which a ‘regime change’ was effected in neighbouring AJK, as well as the manner in which the mayoral elections were conducted further down south in Karachi, there seems to be little point in discussing which party has how many seats and what the calculus of power looks like in GB. It already seems a given that whatever the powerful wish to happen is what is eventually going to happen. The ‘short-circuiting’ of the GB government is a fair indication of the direction the entire country can soon expect to be frog-marched in come general elections; those who stand to benefit have a vested interest in looking the other way.

Is this how the country is to be run, then? Could there be a greater insult to the people of Pakistan, who would still very much like to be in charge of their own destiny? The custodians of the federal government should remember that it does not take long for times to change. In ripping up the rulebook in their blind zeal to completely neutralise an opposing political force, they are digging a very deep hole for themselves. The precedents they are setting will greatly enfeeble Pakistan’s already weak democracy, and may one day be used to destroy these same parties. When that happens, no charter of democracy will save them from retribution. They must demonstrate that while power is temporary, the rules will always stay permanent.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2023

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