Early elections in sight?

By M. Tahir Khan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s announcement to kick start political activities by addressing public to counter opponent’s pressure raised many eye brows that government actually entered into public domain and initiated their preparation process for early elections before 2018 General Elections.

Many key question arises here, is it right time for government to step into public contact campaign by announcing public rallies at large to counter opposition’s pressure?

Why Nawaz Sharif decided to address the nation twice and now started appearing in public rallies instead of making all of their assets and bank transactions public?

Recent week’s political activities started after the release of Panama Papers raised many speculations among experts and commentators. Many started to consider that once again it seems that Pakistan’s politics will be shaken in the coming weeks. It is largely believed that Panama Paper leaks up to greater extent will affect the dynamics of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family politics and it has provided a breathing space to the opponents, especially to Imran Khan, the Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf. However, other political parties including Pakistan People Party and Jamat e Islami have also an opportunity to grab some of the space, but Imran Khan will be a key player to grab political benefits.

The disclosure of Panama Papers kept the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif under intense stress as leaks directly pointed  out his children Hassan, Hussain and Mariyam that they holds off shore accounts and properties in London. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to clarify his position and addressed the nation twice on state television, but could not achieved his desired results and created more confusion. All opposition parties including PPP and PTI straightaway rejected the Prime Minister’s initial announcement of Commission under retired Supreme Court Judge; however in his 2nd address to the nation, Prime Minister formed the commission under Supreme Court of Pakistan, but problem arises on the ‘Terms of Reference’ ToRs.

All opposition parties rejected the terms of reference, however Imran Khan’s view in his press conference after PM’s address to the nation is direct, its PM who has to be investigated by Commission first then everyone else including he himself can be inquired and secondly forensic audit through reputed international accounting firm is must. However, renowned legal experts like Salman Akram Raja and Anwar Mansoor Khan said that with these ToRs, commission will take longer period to look into the matter and produce their findings, and without special legal protection commission’s powers are limited.

Imran Khan on party’s 20th foundation day, addressed a massive crowd in Islamabad’s F-9 Park and once again raised the same demands which were earlier given in his press conference. However, few important points came out of his speech referred that if ToRs will not change than PTI will come out on roads and will march towards PM’s Raiwind residence but had not given any date for the march. However, the most critical and important point to be note from his speech was that Khan announced to start public mobilization movement against corruption from 26th April in Sindh and on 30th April in Lahore, but no date for march towards Raiwind residence was announced.

In the meanwhile, if we consider PML N and PTI as major political parties of Pakistan, both have started mobilizing the public through rallies. What would be the purpose of our political parties to achieve?

For the government and PM Mian Nawaz Sharif, addressing public rallies means to counter the pressure from opposition parties, whereas Imran Khan started to mobilize the crowd to build pressure before starting a larger movement against government. However, if we look into last week’s political developments, it was noted that Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid advised Prime Minister to dissolve the assemblies and enter into new elections and gave justification that other political parties are not ready for elections and it could be a better opportunity to get back public confidence. Among the cabinet members no one agrees with the Zahid Hamid’s advice and took it as a non-serious manner but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif remained quite during the complete discussion. However, later on decisions to contact public made things more interesting at the party’s end which reflects PML N at the back of their mind also thinking and considering early elections on one side and on the other side started to mobilize their party. Zahid Hamid’s view is absolutely right, opposition parties including PTI are not yet ready to enter elections they have internal difference, party structure is missing at the moment; PPP needs more time to restructure itself within Punjab; however Imran Khan’s move to mobilize public conveys a similar message as well. Additionally actions of the government speak louder than words; government has further activated their entire developmental projects all across country.

Let’s cut the story short, coming couple of months are important for the politics of Pakistan and also important for the political parties of Pakistan. It’s simple, whoever will play smart will be able to grab larger space, but options in the hands of government are still open and wider rather than their opponents, while PTI lacks the skill to play smart.

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