Everything changes so that nothing changes

No elected prime minister has been able complete the term in last 75 years

 By Muhammad Ragheeb
After a week of roller-coaster ride which even by Pakistani political standard was unparalleled, the curtains finally fell on this theatre and the Imran Khan led PTI government was ousted on April 10th 2022 through a vote of no confidence by a coalition of eleven political parties. Even in a country that has seen an elected prime minister hanged and a military dictator assassinated, the events of the past few days truly felt like they were something from a Game of Thrones episode.  

It can be said that country witnessed two coups. Apparently, the successful coup has been carried out by the opposition and its allies while coup carried out by the than government failed.  Alleging that opposition was being backed by the United States in its vote of no confidence against his government because of its displeasure with the independent foreign policy being pursued by PTI government, former Prime minister Imran Khan utilized the powers of the speaker to dismiss the motion.

This move was deemed unconstitutional by the opposition parties who demanded that proof be given by the Prime minister for such accusations that amounted to treason. The PM responded by pointing to a classified cable delivered by the Pakistani embassy in Washington. The debate then headed to the supreme court which ruled against the Government and ordered restoration of both the national assembly and the vote of no confidence which though accepted by prime minister Imran khan was delayed till the last minute in an attempt to prevent it from happening even though the sword of contempt of court hung on the necks of the ruling party. 
The country ended up barely avoiding a fifth martial law on the night of April 9th 2022 as in a last ditch effort to stay in the PM office Imran Khan reportedly tried to sack the incumbent army chief and bring in another on the post more favorable to him so that he could force the opposition to move back. However due to the timely intervention of the secretary defense and the judiciary, Imran Khan was checkmated by the powerful quarters of this country. 
This decision ended up being the final nail in the coffin and by midnight of 10th April, after a visit to PM house by security officials Imran Khan was no more the Prime Minister of Pakistan next morning. 

It can be argued that the decisions taken by the Imran Khan government towards the end were unconstitutional and fully merited the Supreme court decision they got and that the accusations of foreign intervention were also largely baseless as far as current evidence goes since it relies only on a single letter whose contents even the NA Speaker hadn’t seen when he dismissed the vote of no confidence using article 5.
 However it is also an undeniable fact that the removal of Khan from office is not solely a democratic exercise, rather it is the continuation of a series of covert coups against elected officials that have been going on since the 1950’s. In a similar fashion, the governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif were toppled in the 90’s and Nawaz Sharif was removed from office in 2017 through a judicial coup that used the most flimsy of reasons of not taking salary from his offshore companies. 
Back then the difference was that Mr. Imran Khan was in favor of such moves since it benefitted him directly and now that he is on the receiving end of such moves, the views of his supporters and party officials have done the famous U-turn and they are now against such moves by the country’s establishment.
This entire episode is yet another lesson for all our political parties to understand and learn from but unfortunately hitherto they have demonstrated little capacity to be able to do so. They should not weaken parliament and allow other institutions to usurp its power just for petty politics and gaining positions of power. 
What transpired against Mr. Nawaz Sharif when he was an elected prime minister may have benefitted Imran Khan then but has certainly come back to haunt him now and will most certainly in the future come back to haunt the current opposition as well. It is a cycle that repeats itself after every 3 to 4 years hence it is no surprise that in our 75 years of existence no elected prime minister has completed a full term in office. 
Our elected officials should realize that as long as they keep on looking towards “Umpire ki ungali” to decide their own problems, this merry go round of ousters, fake cases and references and baseless accusations will keep on spinning till the Day of Judgment itself. It is also a lesson for the nation at large that as long as they continue to desire whatever change they want only from the comfort of their TV lounges then the only change that will come will be the change of players in the game not the game itself: something which can be accurately summed up by a lesser known Italian saying that “Everything changes so that nothing changes”. 

The situation as it stands now is that the PTI has begin a public outreach movement to mobilize its support base both at home and abroad, is demanding early general elections while resigning from national assembly. Mr. Shahbaz Sharif has become the Prime Minister, winning parties are claiming their share of the spoils and the process of putting in place loyalists in key positions before the next elections has started. 
It seems that neither side has learned any lessons this time as well as we continue to hear accusations as serious as being a traitor hurled at each other. Those in power are likely to misuse it while looking towards the umpire for support. As the saying goes, “the king is dead, long live the king”. Only in this case the king never truly dies.
                                                                  Muhammad Ragheeb

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