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On the horns of a dilemma

Col Ikram Ullah Khan

Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan 

With a sudden dramatic political development in the country’s erratic political climate after the announcement by Imran Khan on 17 December to dissolve the two provincial assemblies by Friday, 23 December, Khan finds himself on the horns of a dilemma. 

Khan has provided his political opponents an opportunity to make smart political moves against him. The seasoned political guru Asif Ali Zardari known for his successful political wheeling and dealing and who is also called the king of reconciliation is found hyperactive these days despite his ailing health. He is in Lahore nowadays busy in striking a political deal with those political forces like Chaudhry Shuja’t and the likes who can play a vital role in turning the tables on Imran Khan. 

Different options which were available to Imran a few days earlier are now shrinking to the minimum. Besides, the forces on whom Imran Khan was still banking and trying to suck them in politics have evinced no interest in any kind of mediation or political interference after they have genuinely declared themselves apolitical. They have refused to chip in and provide him a face saving, thus leaving Khan in the lurch.

Khan seems to have let the opportunity of dissolving the two provincial assemblies slip from his hand. Whether by design or out of compulsion, Khan has been suffering from procrastination that has led him to a situation “to be or not to be” which in all probability is going to prove to be politically fatal for him. 

As for Punjab CM Pervez Elahi, he is caught between the hammer and the anvil after Punjab governor has asked him to seek a fresh vote of confidence and also after a vote of no-confidence move has been initiated by the opposition. Whether he resigns as CM and switches side to PDM or sticks to his guns and continues to stand by Imran Khan, both are extremely perilous options. Anyhow, he has to take a decision before 4pm today. 

In such a fluid political situation gripping the country, it’s very hard to predict with any amount of certainty regarding the final political outcome. Anything can happen any time. A really nail-biting situation, indeed. 

 Both sides have dug in their heels deep as both Khan and the coalition government led by Shahbaz Sharif are not ready to budge even in inch from their stubborn positions. In this political war of attrition between Imran Khan and his opponents, the hapless people of the country have become the ultimate sufferers. 

On 17 December, Khan was expecting a sea of people inundating the streets of different cities, particularly the famous Liberty Chowk Lahore to listen to his much-procrastinated announcement of the dissolution of the two provincial assemblies under his political suzerainty, but to his utter dismay, public was found apathetic to his hackneyed and repetitive political harangue and no one was seen on the streets except a few thousand hired people at Liberty Chowk. 

As expected, during his boring scripted address, Khan kept his guns turned on the ex-army chief Gen (r) Bajwa throughout to the much embarrassment to Punjab CM Pervez Elahi which was markedly visible on his blushed countenance who was sitting on Khan’s right side. Interestingly, he is the same Gen Bajwa whom Khan praised to the skies hardly a year before his unceremonious ouster through a vote of no confidence. Imran Khan should recall what he said about Gen Bajwa only a few days before the vote of no-confidence while responding to a question asked by a senior journalist, “there is no gulf between him and the Chief of the Army Staff”. He further said: “no one should malign the army to advance their political goals, because if the army had not been there, Pakistan would have been divided into three parts”.

Sunk deep in the political quagmire, Imran Khan is making a desperate attempt to take himself out of it, but instead, he is sinking even deeper. In a fit of desperation he can do anything nasty. He is a master in keeping his frantic followers on tenterhooks. 

Khan is left with no cards in his hands. He has played even the trump card which he had kept in reserve to give a stunning surprise to his opponents, but let it go without gaining anything worthwhile.

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