Pakistan’s most populous province Punjab is home to the country’s armed forces, civilian bureaucrats, media and everything that you need for development and prosperity in present Pakistan. It has a major role in defining Pakistani politics and enjoys a king maker role in power politics since 1947, the year Pakistan came into existence. For its ‘king maker’ role, Punjan remains the major battlefield for political parties and security establishment. Unlike the other three provinces, Punjab has developed a sort of two-party system since late 1980s with people following either PPP or PML. Both parties have produced a number of politicians and technocrats in Punjab since then though PML takes the credit for also producing a first time Punjabi mainstream politician in Mian Nawaz Sharif.
However, the deeply rooted two parties system in Punjab seems to be no more serving the interests of the establishment if it is truly behind the emerging Imran Khan-led PTI. The reports of alleged pampering of PTI suggest a repetition of Gen Musharraf’s creation of the then king party PML (Q) in Punjab. Instead of investing on tested leadership, ISI’s political military officials, as reported in a section of media, are calling on Punjab’s ‘beradari-based politicians’ and voters to go for a totally new try---Imran Khan’s PTI. If succeeded, it would hunt down two birds with one shot. An unfriendly Nawaz Sharif will lose turf to PTI and PPP will emerge with few seats from Punjab, if at all the nation goes for election. The generals on extensions are also betting on a favorable Supreme Court verdict, as a second card, against PPP government in the memo case. Anonymous top military officials already claimed to a credible foreign news agency Reuters last week that military would seek court decision against president Zardari in the memo case. The honorable judges have yet to consider the reported claims of the anonymous military officials in memo hearings.
While it is still not clear how a court of law will prove Mansoor Ijaz allegations that Pakistan’s sacked ambassador to US Hussain Haqqani dictated him a memo on the telephone, the dent in Nawaz Sharif’s PML and PPP had gotten a momentum in Punjab province. The chances are that both parties would lose a majority in parliament and Punjab assembly due to mass defections to PTI while their leaders would be watching it helplessly from Islamabad and Lahore before a verdict comes from the Supreme Court.
The defections’ rate in PML (N) or PPP shows the local leaders and voters in Punjab are committing a serious political folly. They hardly with their collective efforts nourished their own leader/s in the last 24 years and now when they grew up to the level of delivering services, turning backs on them will benefit the security establishment and its political immature babies.
Compared with the Imran Khan’s PTI, stuffed with the known turncoats of Pakistan, PPP and PML (N) have strong political muscles. The leadership of the two parties has passed through a series of tough ordeals and tense moments—the list includes challenging the country’s most powerful military generals, made-in GHQ foreign policy failures, poor economy, war on terror, non-cooperative military, self-imposed Kargal and mid-night jackal adventures, false cases of corruption, daily media trials with the help of Kamran Khan types on controlled media outlets, imprisonment, assassinations and executions. Both parties—PPP to a larger extent and PML (N) to some level, fought for empowerment of the elected governments and masses and have preferred ruling the country per constitution than surrendering to the military generals.
Imran Khan’s PTI has tested none of it. Being an ambitious cricket player, he grew up playing ONLY on favorable wickets. Right now he is batting and bowling on military pitch. He tells his audience that US had failed in Afghanistan and US can’t win in Afghanistan without Pakistan. That is what Gen Pasha told Pakistani envoys at a conference in Islamabad this month per media reports. He is against anti-terrorists drones and so is GHQ apparently (though wikileaks says the opposite) and considers it dangerous for Pakistan’s sovereignty. He is for the release of Aafia (NOT Aasia) Siddiqui and calls her daughter of the nation. On Taliban, he accepts them as a force and urges for negotiations with them. Mr Khan is hero of Pakistan’s radical right; has never condemned Taliban’s suicide attacks or destruction of schools and openly plays politics of anti-Americanism—a weapon of the establishment. His interests are more aligned with the secret Pakistan than with the aspiring youth and civil society of Pakistan.
Unlike PML (N) and PPP, PTI has no sense of economics. Its main economic slogan is Pakistan’s undefined wealth and resources and that a new Pakistan will be a prosperous nation. No solid plan in 1, 2, 3 is so far unveiled for dealing with the unemployment, energy deficiency, low income, low GDP, high inflation, increasing defense costs, huge standing army, sick sectors and narrow tax net. The other two major parties are tested gurus in Pakistan’s context. For Kamran Khan types TV anchors, PPP specially and PML (N) to some extent, are economic catastrophes of Pakistan. However, the biased anchors just ignore the facts that US or West will not invest in Pakistan when Osama bin Laden is hiding in Abbottabad, Taliban Shura operating in Quetta and Aiman al Zawahiri sending terror videos from hidden bases in Pak/Afghan border regions.
Empowering PTI and rejecting the established parties will delay at least for five more years the journey towards the ultimate goal, that is, empowering men and women of Pakistan civil society. The security establishment will feel more comfortable playing hide and seek on power share, funds allocations, foreign policy choices, development projects and domestic polity with its political babies of PTI, if it comes in power. The nation is witness to that exercise between Gen Musharraf-led military and Chodhris of Gujrat-led PML ( Q) government before 2008. Everyone knows how far the then government of PML (Q) was powerful in setting government agenda, foreign policy and appointments to major positions such as prime minister, chairman senate, cabinet members, heads of civilian institutes such as NHA, PIA, Pakistan Steel Mills--all major public sectors including Pakistan Cricket Board . The civilian façade of PML (Q) only gave extensions to the real military rule in Pakistan in the 1st decade of the 21st century.
Looking from the window of a win/lose scenario, empowering PTI renders the masses as losers and the establishment is seen as a winner along with a handful of turncoats led by Imran Khan. PTI, being a wrong choice for Punjab and (of course other provinces too), will not deliver a revolution but voters there will end up with the hollow slogans and immature leadership. The other three provinces are not gonna benefit from Imran Khan’s tsunami as Sindh will not accept him and Pakhtunkhwa will be abandoned to ‘good’ Taliban. Baluchistan will be out of Imran Khan’s control, especially when he has this big black stigma of ‘establishment man’ on his forehead.