What if the King is forced to abdicate?


Shaukat Qadir
Overtime, Pakistan premiership has become a virtual kingdom. He/she may not be all powerful, since there are numerous competing power centres and, even though none provide political systemic balance but the power-sharing formula is such that the king or queen can get away with corruption.
It is my view that the Zardari era will remain unmatched in the level and extent of its corruption. Others, including the current incumbents, are far less so, but still competing.
Meanwhile, virtually all political parties are not only undemocratic, they are autocratic and party leadership has become a small ‘princedom’ within the kingdom. Worse; party leadership has become hereditary and selective.
To our utter national shame, virtually all those who ascended to the throne and all those aspiring to are all, one and all, corrupt. They may be more or less corrupt but nary a single leader is clean. I wish Imran had retained his cleanliness but, to my regret, he may only be less corrupt. He too is unclean.
That is not to say there are no political leaders who have retained their “clean” reputation; there are. Maybe just a handful, but there are. Regretfully, none of them leads his/her own party nor is considered kingship material by members of his party.
It seems that, for the foreseeable future, Pakistan’s throne is destined for the corrupt.
It is in this perspective that Imran Khan’s persistence in pursuing the Panama Papers crisis is approaching its natural conclusion. It will not result in fulfilling Imran’s hope of ascending to the throne by ‘selection’, since he obviously is fully conscious that he has no chance of ascending via any election but, he may be able to claim some sort of victory.
Recent events are clear indicators that the remote possibility of Nawaz Sharif being disqualified is fast moving from likelihood to probability. And, as someone remarked, ‘perhaps it’s overdue’. So, what options are left, if the incumbent king is forced to abdicate?
Essentially, the incumbent political party has two choices; early elections or an in-house change. However, even for an early election, there will need to be an interim king to hold elections. Therefore, who; remains the principal question.
The PPP is fast entering the ranks of the ‘has-beens’. Within the PTI, Imran’s recent process of ‘selective elections’ has resulted in murmurs becoming increasingly vocal and threatening. Is this the beginning of end for the PML(N) too? It may well be
For some time now, it has been apparent that, in the event of the party leadership remaining hereditary — most likely, the PML(N) is most likely to be inherited by Maryam Nawaz. Shahbaz, is an unlikely choice for kinghood, as too are her male siblings. Judging by her tweets alone, she may well be a disastrous choice but then, who really cares?
In the extremely unlikely event that a non-member of the ruling family is considered, there are likely to be many contenders to the throne. The ones likely to throw their hats in the ring are Chaudhry Nisar, the two Khwajas; Asif and Saad Rafiq, maybe even the Abbasi, and the inevitable Ishaq Dar. The sole person I consider capable of being a benevolent ruler, Ahsan Iqbal, is not even likely to be in consideration.
If any of these is chosen, it is highly likely that internecine rifts between him and other contenders will result in an environment intended to make the selected incumbent a failure.
But, even if the party throne stays within the ruling family, whether Maryam, Hussain, Hassan, or even Shahbaz or Dar, the environment is likely to remain the same. Other contenders will make every endeavour to ensure the failure of the Chosen One.
There is a possible solution to the quandary here, but no one is likely to want that. In my view the only thing that might succeed is a free, fair, and transparent election within the party to decide who assumes the throne of the party princedom and will be the king if the party retains its majority in parliament.
Ironic, isn’t it? That, if Nawaz Sharif is disqualified or, after completing his term, whoever he hands over to, the party unity and future will be endangered unless the undemocratic process of selection within the party is overturned.
The PPP is fast entering the ranks of the ‘has-beens’, within the ranks of the PTI, Imran’s recent process of ‘selective elections’ has resulted in murmurs becoming increasingly vocal and threatening. Is this the beginning of end for the PML(N) too? It may well be.
Perhaps therein lies redemption for Pakistan; in the death of all existing parties and the birth of a party of the youth. Those with a future and a stake in the future of this wretched country.
But, we haven’t finished with Nawaz Sharif yet. I am told by a friend better versed in our legal process than I, that, if disqualified, he, and all scions of the (not-so) Sharif family could and should be tried on criminal charges. If that be true, it means a trial at the session’s court; not the SC nor even any high court.
Dr Asim Hussain and Uzair Baloch, the two Swords of Damocles’ which hung over the heads of the entire PPP leadership seem to have become invisible. Had they been around, the dirtiest of Augean Stables on Pakistan’s political horizon might also have been cleansed.
How and where will this end? Perhaps in a ray of hope.