Thursday, July 29, 2021

Pakistan Towards A Political Stalemate

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan last week announced a ban on political rallies across the country on behalf of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) terming it as a necessity to contain the spread of the second wave of coronavirus. The Islamabad High Court has also observed that the implementation of the decisions of NCOC on Covid-19 was mandatory in the event of a coronavirus crisis and legal action might be taken against those violating its decisions.

However the real reason for the ban ‘is said to be’ the major power shows and anti-government protests planned by the collation of the 11 opposition parties, Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM). Terming the government’s ban as a tactic to thwart the opposition party protests in the grab of the corona, the PDM refused to give in and organized a mammoth rally in Mansehra in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The opposition is set to kick off another Jalsa in PTI stronghold Peshawar today despite the refusal to grant permission by the Peshawar administration to hold the rally. The PDM would also stage a rally in Larkana on November 26, Multan on 30 November and Lahore on 13 December 2020.

Since its inception in September, the PDM has created a political uproar in Pakistan and kept the government on foot by its anti-government and anti-establishment protests and ‘Jalsa’. Nawaz Sharif has openly named and shamed the country’s army head, General Qamar Bajwa for interfering in the political affairs that lead to a series of face-saving steps by the establishment announcing that political affairs should be discussed in the Parliament and the leaders should not come to the army with its political problems. The PDM not only shared the stage with Baloch and Pashtun leaders (often considered anti-nationals for criticizing the army) but also talked about their issues.  Maryam Nawaz crossed the army’s red lines by raising the issue of missing persons in Balochistan, in the Quetta rally, a subject that is taboo in Pakistan.

The PTI government has made many attempts to break the PDM, rumors were rife that the two main opposition parties, PML-N, and PPP are not on the same page and can break away from PDM. Maryam Nawaz in the Mansehra rally said the PDM resolve to continue the struggle underlined, “Nawaz Sharif will return to Pakistan & will become the country PM for the fourth time” indicating that the opposition is adamant to raise the pressure on the government in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Imran Khan government is continuing to promote cross-border terror. Indian security forces foiled a “Pulwama” type attack in Nagrota, Jammu and Kashmir by the banned Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) terrorist organization. Four Pakistani JeM terrorists were killed during the operation. A large cache of arms and ammunitions having Pakistani markings were recovered by the Indian agencies. India conveyed its strong concerns. The Pakistan Charge d’ Affairs was summoned by India’s Ministry of External Affairs and a strong protest was lodged at the attempted attack, which was only prevented from happening by the alertness of the Indian security forces. It was demanded that Pakistan desists from its policy of supporting terrorists and terror groups operating from its territory and dismantle the terror infrastructure operated by terrorist outfits to launch attacks in other countries.

Pakistan is struggling through a weak economy and on top of it the price inflation of common commodities and brought out the common people on the streets coinciding with the PDM protests. The PTI government instead of finding a solution to the domestic issues is busy fighting the opposition leaders and at the same time encouraging cross-border terror activities. The PDM is readying itself to go ahead with its scheduled rallies and has already given the call for a long march to Islamabad in January next year to seek the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Pakistan is for the time been is moving towards a political impasse. Corona cases in the country are also increasing. It remains to be seen how the military establishment reacts to break the stalemate. Would the Pak army break its vow not to interfere in the country’s politics? This possibility cannot be ruled out!

Script: Dr. Zainab Akhter, Analyst On Pakistan

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