Senate elections portend ill for the future of the PMLN
Columnist Zahid Hussain, writing in daily Dawn on March 14, said what no politician has been willing to pronounce: that the Army intervened in the recent Senate elections to prevent the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) from electing its own chairman and thus controlling both houses of Parliament, which could have allowed it to legislate in favor of the reinstatement of their leader Nawaz Sharif. Writing about the three-way contest he says:
“The battle lines are drawn more clearly with the security establishment shedding pretensions of being nonpartisan in the ongoing confrontation between the civilian government and the apex court. The latest warning by the top military leadership that it stands with the judiciary leaves nothing to doubt about the new template of power. That has increasingly marginalized the position of the executive in this emerging troika of power.”
There is no doubt that the Army has been lured into intervention by the ongoing vendetta between the two big traditional rivals in the field—the PMLN and the Pakistan Peoples Party—who are at each other’s throats once more. Seeing the tilt of the seesaw of power, spoiler Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has also weighed in as the Army’s bellwether in the democratic process. Two “vulnerable” parties of Sindh, MQM and PPP, are delicately placed because of their connections with Karachi’s vast underworld of street crime and property-snatching.
Hussain says that “judicial extremism” of the current Supreme Court is encroaching on Parliament’s powers to legislate, as is made clear by “recent Supreme Court judgments striking down legislations passed by Parliament.” This is triggered by the balance of power shifting away from the executive. Tragically, in “third world” conditions, incompetence and economic hardship often affords “moral” ground for interfering, thus foreshortening the normal five-year period of learning and correction of the government. One party, the PPP, has been permanently cut down to size while the PMLN is now on the way to being marginalized.