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Peak time for palace intrigues by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

Father of modern Germany, a statesman, and master of realpolitik Otto von Bismarck used to say that palace intrigue is a norm in any state. He also actively participated in such intrigues and did not felt ashamed about it. British PM Theresa May had to recently face a possible mutiny in her party when reports emerged that a forward block of 30 MPs may seek her ouster. President Trump has been constantly dealing with infighting between his team members and his administration has been a revolving door. Brazilian President Delma Rousseff was overthrown using a technicality and current President Temer is also facing ouster as well on corruption charges. Since civilian set up is an exception not a norm in Pakistan we get anxious about palace intrigues. We need to learn to live with them.

Today many interesting oped pieces and editorials appeared about the stalemate in politics and suggestions that things cannot continue in the same manner. The most interesting piece was from Umar Cheema in which he narrated meeting of a senior member of PML N and influential member of the establishment. Senior journalist Nusrat Javeed went even a step further and mentioned the senior member of PML N was no other than Shahbaz Sharif himself. The piece suggested that various scenarios were discussed in the meeting.

I am sure a meeting did happen not just the one suggested by Umar Cheema but many others in the capital. What else would politicians and senior state officials do in the evening? Their favorite pass time is discussing politics and scenarios. It helps them unwind and also feel good about themselves. As a small-time politician and writer, I also get calls and questions about possible scenarios. In 2014 dharna when the rumors were ripe about third umpire ready to raise the finger. I got many calls asking what do I think. My answer was always that follow the law and constitution and avoid any unconstitutional misadventure. They would then say the politicians are corrupt and part of the problem. To that, I would always respond if they are corrupt them punish them for their corruption but let the democracy continue as it takes time for good leaders to emerge.

Eventually, that is what happened 3rd Umpire did not raise their finger in Dharna of 2014 and Supreme Court ousted an elected Prime Minister for an Iqama while NAB is pursuing references under supervision. But still intrigues are going on and the narrative was built for a technocratic government. That narrative was killed by the DG ISPR in his press conference. One would think that intrigues would stop but no they continue as they are a norm. The new narrative is to install a national government because the economy is in bad shape. Imran Khan and Asif Ali Zardari are out suggesting PML N government destroyed the economy in last four years. But when someone asks them what were they doing when those four budgets were approved then they have no answer. Imran Khan and Asif Ali Zardari are equally responsible for the lackluster performance of the economy. Now they are throwing dust in the eyes of the people because they need votes.

I agree that there is stress on the economy but we are not going bankrupt. Economists should present proposals which should be debated. PML N as a family party always keeps family interest ahead of national interest. First, after four years they have a full-time Foreign Minister and everyone sees the benefit of it but now they have a part-time Finance Minister. It is not a wise decision. They should appoint a full-time Finance Minister and Senator Ishaq Dar can work as a key adviser to the minister.

The elites will continue in their drawing room intrigues. But I hope they are pragmatic enough not to destroy the precarious balance that we have worked hard to attain. Politicians should prepare for next elections as that is the only solution and no other crazy experiment will be acceptable or workable. Judges have to ensure that they remain apolitical and do not become part of any tussle for power. The judgment based on iqama will be always questioned as politically motivated and part of a conspiracy. There will be legal experts pro and against that decision. Delaying elections under any legal loophole or pretext using doctrine of necessity to prolong interim government will be a disaster and take the nation on the path of a civil war. The military has to remember that they are not a political party and should stop engaging in palace intrigue. I am not suggesting that they are but Umar Cheema story does suggest that and he is not the only one. The military should have a voice and representation in dealing with foreign and defense policy but should refrain from talking publicly about subjects that are not in their professional domain.

As to the nation. Get ready for next general elections as it is just around the corner and make a wise decision in choosing your representatives. Your decision on the voting day impacts your life profoundly for five years. Don’t come under any pressure and make a choice based on your conscience and knowledge of the candidates. Also, ensure that no one steals your vote and it is properly counted. The success and fairness of an election depend on you not on politicians as they want to win by hook or crook.

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