After years of ceaseless efforts of politicians, journalists, lawyers, civil society and other sections of the society, a fledgling democratic system has taken root in Pakistan but the political stunts by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri have put the whole development in jeopardy.
Stubborn Imran, crazy Qadri and ignorant Nawaz Sharif have made Pakistan a laughing stock in the world. The long march was said to be aimed at reforming the electoral system, though PTI with its 34 members in the Parliament did not make any effort to do it while remaining within the system. Imran Khan’s demeanor shows that his other demands are mere blanket over his primary demand of PM’s resignation. As far Tahirul Qadri, he seems to be living in the state of utopia while having fits of egocentrism every now and then.
Imran Khan has been trying to turn public opinion in his favor vis-à-vis election rigging but his arguments lose their ground when the outcome of election petitions filed by his party is assessed. According to facts, Imran Khan’s PTI filed 77 petitions with the Election Commission under Section 103-AA of Representation of People Act, 1976 which were disposed of. Besides, another 61 election petitions were filed under Section 52 of the same Act out of which 37 have been rejected favoring the winning candidates.
PTI was given ample opportunity by the Tribunals to prove their case with convincing evidence but it failed. Some of the cases decided by the Election Tribunal were challenged in the Supreme Court and the Court observed that PTI has not presented reliable evidence whereby the Tribunals could have decreed the petitions in its favor.
The charter of demands as presented by Imran Khan might be accepted by Nawaz Sharif if PTI expunges the demand of his resignation. On the other hand, Imran Khan has made it clear that he would not negotiate until Nawaz Sharif resigns. But by demanding the resignation in this way, he is actually defying the Constitution of Pakistan. The constitution provides the method of removal of Prime Minister by way of vote of no-confidence under Article 95. Before launching the movement, Imran Khan should have exhausted the remedy provided by the constitution. He is in no way justified in demanding the resignation other than through moving the resolution of no-confidence against the Prime Minister. Though the protestors have been occupying the capital for about a week, the government has still not used force to disperse them, which is indeed very appreciating.
Nawaz Sharif may somehow manage to survive the mob led by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri but the inquiry report of Model Town incident and subsequent events in that respect may keep haunting him. In pursuance of an application filed in the Sessions Court of Lahore, the Judge has reportedly ordered the police to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) of the incident wherein Nawaz Sharif has also been proposed as one of the accused.
The sit-ins of Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan, which get thin during the day and thick in the night time, are waiting for the outcome. The crowd has been instilled with the assurance of resignation of the PM. They would, therefore, not call it a day unless the PM resigns. The ego of Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri will also be seriously hurt if PM does not resign. In such case the apprehension is that the crowd of thousands of people may turn violent and may storm the buildings situated in the Red Zone.
The resignation of Prime Minister may fill the appetite of Imran Khan but it would set a negative precedent providing religious and political pressure groups with an excuse to stage the sit-ins in the capital bringing the whole system to a standstill. Therefore, the wisdom demands that the Prime Minister should not resign under the pressure of protests. But Nawaz cannot achieve salvation and solace even if he stays in the office, as the Model Town case sword is also hanging over his head.
As the events unfold it appears that history is repeating itself. It was exactly 40 years ago when Nawab Muhammad Ahmed Khan, father of Ahmed Raza Kasuri, was killed in Lahore. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then a powerful Prime Minister of Pakistan, was booked in the murder case for allegedly aiding and abetting to assassinate Ahmed Raza Kasuri that ended up killing his father. Post 1977 general elections kick started countrywide protests by Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) but it could not do what a murder case did. Bhutto could not escape death which was outcome of the FIR by Ahmed Raza Kasuri lodged at Ichraa Police Station Lahore. The direct intervention by the then Army Chief General Zia made sure that Bhutto is to be hanged ignoring all the ends of justice and principles of natural justice in conducting the murder trial.
Surprisingly Imran Khan as well as Tahirul Qadri have not been insisting too much on the registration of the FIR against Nawaz Sharif but are shouting in air for his resignation. The “stakeholders” have so far retained the legal weapon, the FIR, which could be used at another time after using all options. Mere the demand of resignation may not work but the murder case, if registered, would. Apparently, Nawaz Sharif had no role in what happened in Model Town but his affinity with the Chief Minister of Punjab has the tendency to be misused as pressure tactic to coerce him. As the law in Pakistan has the history of misuse, keeping in view the convenience of the mighty. What the long march, protest, agitation and violence cannot do, can be achieved by invoking section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure — the FIR. Now it is up to the courts and the fate of Nawaz Sharif, whether he would end up in the glittering power corridors, or fight a long and risky legal battle.