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For the past three and half years, the tsunami of the promised tabdeeli has submerged the entire country in doom
The house of cards is unraveling, faster than the time it took to put it all together. As the adhesive begins to chip off, the Pakistan Democratic Movement has expressed its resolve to go ahead with a no-confidence motion against the government besides marching to the capital on the Republic Day. A year ago, the same position when propounded by the Pakistan People’s Party was rebuffed by an opposition adamant on resignation from the assemblies. Myopic it was, but with the Sharifs and Maulana Fazal-ur- Rehman now rallying around to dislodge the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf from power in the legislatures, the PPP’s viewpoint stands vindicated — albeit with a delay of several months characterised by the ruling party’s trademark incompetence, criminal inattention and callous indifference.
For the past three and half years, the tsunami of the promised tabdeeli has submerged the entire country in doom. The PTI cannot seem to get anything right in any department for Pakistan at home or abroad except for its cronies that have sponsored the party’s subversive adventure. Under a regime ostensibly premised on routing corruption and that continues to expend its entire time, resources and institutions on the recovery of the nation’s ‘looted’ wealth, Pakistan has slipped several ranks down on the Transparency International’s corruption perception index. The economy is hemorrhaging as national liabilities have soared to 50 trillion rupees and the currency continues to slump to record lows. With the State Bank mortgaged to international financial institutions, the crucial finance ministry has remained a prime site for musical chairs of men who have no tool in their box other than applying one oppressive tax after another. Development and welfare projects initiated by the previous governments have either been stalled or warped and repackaged as innovations. The masses are collapsing under the twin troubles of unemployment and inflation — very much like the dozens that crumbled under the snow in Murree at the beginning of the year. For the omniscient Prime Minister of Riyasat-e-Medina II, these problems do not exist to begin with or are the fabrications of a “cynical” and “sold-out” media. Instead of winning new friends for Pakistan, the celebrity government has lost out on longstanding allies as well. In addition to petrol bombs, terrorist bomb blasts have also begun to target the soft underbelly of the country. Be it basic commodities such as medicine, natural gas, fertiliser, wheat and sugar or even hope, everything happens to be in short supply in Naya Pakistan. Every other day, the sanctity of the parliament is razed down with the same temerity as the dwellings of the poor. Disorder has become the order of the day.
The PTI has hollowed out the very edifice of the country and its institutions. What, then, accounts for the staying power of an extraordinarily unpopular, unskilled, unproductive and unethical regime? Heavy-handedness, maybe. Propaganda is another instrument. It must, however be remembered that the effectiveness of both is only ephemeral. The government led by Imran Khan has exhibited remarkable alacrity at stifling dissenting voices in the press, incarcerating its political opposition on flimsy charges and denying it the right to a fair trial alongside employing an army of ministers and spokespersons to sling mud and heap scorn on them 24/7. The setbacks are obvious; however, what is resistance if not fighting against odds? Leadership is responsibility, and representatives of the people on both sides of the aisle are duty-bound to protect their political, social, economic and human rights. It cannot be gainsaid that security of tenure is critical in a fragile democracy but the constitution stipulates the way out for a government that not only fails to meet the aspirations of the people but also imperils the viability of the state. No leader of the opposition has been more forthright about it than the PPP Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
The prominent Cuban communist hero, Che Guevara aptly pointed out that a revolution was not an apple that falls when it is ripe. We have to make it fall. How to make it fall? Incertitude over this question had continued to divide Pakistan’s opposition for a year. However, in hindsight, the PPP’s principled stance against resignation from assemblies has kept the wheels of democracy moving, thwarting the march to a virtual one party state and preserving the possibility of a no confidence move that everyone has now pivoted on. The ruling party lost one by-election after another whereas the opposition was able to gain a majority in the Senate. The writing on the wall has been spelled out loud by the recent polls for local bodies in the PTI stronghold, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Even when the PDM dithered, the PPP singlehandedly soldiered on against the current regime’s excesses in the parliament and on the streets; its leadership staying in Pakistan and bearing the worst brunt of PTI’s political victimisation. No ailment, jail or expediency could silence the PPP that has always held this land and its people supreme, defied every dictator and upheld the inviolability of the state and its institutions — notwithstanding the enormous personal price it has at times paid in blood.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, an embodiment of both vision and valour is the worthy heir of this illustrious legacy; the face and voice of a movement that believes in the rule of law, sovereignty of the people and their economic emancipation as articles of faith and not just matters of convenience. It is for the same cause he has announced a long march to Islamabad from February 27 and is mobilising masses from Baltistan to Balochistan to deliver a lasting shake to an already shaky government. The fate of the nation will ultimately be decided in the parliament which is but one lawful expression of the popular will. For Shaheed Bibi, the people were the guardians of democracy and fight they must, themselves, for their liberation and better future. Time, justice and forces of history are on their side.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2022.
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