The PDM Paradox

The PDM government with PML (N) in the lead and with PPP smartly following on heels, has very craftily pitched the Army against the PTI, especially by building a malicious political narrative after 9th May’s dastardly incidents.

By Brig. Saleem Qamar Butt (Retired) | July 2023

The Pakistan Democratic Movement or PDM, was created on September 29, 2020 as a coalition of 13 big and small parties (traditionally at loggerheads), to plan a strategy for replacing the PTI government to get rid of the noose of accountability, i.e. NAB/ other cases, by reclaiming the throne. On April 10, 2022, the coalition succeeded to oust the then prime minister Imran Khan through a no-confidence motion (which in public perception and PTI’s claims was supported by the Establishment including the judiciary). However, after more than a year in the government, the regime change maneuver in Pakistan in April 2022 seems to have gone wrong against the expectations of the perpetrators; and consequently the country is experiencing the worst ever economic woes, unbelievable political polarisation, judicial fissures and simmering security situation along the western and southern borders. As for dwindling economy, a glance at the table is quite revealing.

The political differences transformed into personal enmity with broad daylight murder attempt on former Prime Minister Imran khan on November 3rd, 2022 (neither case properly registered nor investigated), followed by almost 150 politically motivated cases registered against him and appalling police raids on his as well as his party leadership’s residences. The threats to Khan’s political career as well as his life continue as publicly conveyed by opposing political figures in power. The political dialogue by all politicians has been replaced by most disgusting hate speeches, bad mouthing, slanders, threats, abuses and lies setting the worst possible lows.

The heavy-handed suppression of political dissent and state oppression against supporters of PTI as well as media/ journalists is also witnessing unprecedented levels especially after the arrest of PTI Chairman and the subsequent most condemnable incidents of public outrage and violence on May 09, 2023, which were the solo handiwork of some overzealous and frenzied party workers/ mobsters. Nevertheless, the attack on Corps Commander House in Lahore (erroneously projected as Jinnah House for political mileage by PDM government), other military installations elsewhere and the most disgusting and unpardonable sacrilege of a few war memorials built for remembrance and respect to Shaheed and Ghazi of previous wars has earned PTI a very bad name.

Consequently, the PDM government’s response to May 09 uncalled-for incidents has led to mass arrests of PTI supporters in Punjab and KPK, including trespassing and mal-treatment of women and families by Punjab, Sindh and Capital police, registration of politically motivated and even fake FIRs/ cases against all PTI leadership and important members. Till writing of these lines, most of the arrested PTI members and leadership including the top ones have been forced to quit PTI after brief identical press conferences’ statements and all cases against them have immediately been withdrawn as a reward.

The electable mostly from Punjab (notoriously called lotay) and all fair weather members of PTI have already started joining other parties with PPP in the lead and followed up by PML (N). Moreover, PTI is getting further splintered and enfeebled by formation of smaller groups with different names led by defunct/ runaway rich members of PTI. The sale and purchase and luring-in process of MPs/ electable is once again in motion; unethical though, yet shamelessly, it is a routine matter in Pakistani politics. PPP’s Asif Zardari looks emboldened camping in Lahore, and PML (N) is bound to retaliate sooner than later with re-commencement of cut-throat political choreography in the battle for Punjab. It won’t come as a surprise if the likely losers (now forming PDM) of elections in Punjab and other parts of Pakistan shall once again turn their guns towards each other as well as towards Establishment as usual---hence a paradox for both.

On the foreign policy front too, Pakistan seemed to have missed the bus moving in the right strategic direction vis-à-vis India and other regional countries. In a nutshell, the governance system in Pakistan appears to be on the brink of complete breakdown. A large number of Pakistani people are migrating to other countries in complete desperation. Nevertheless, the traditional ruling elite continues to remain engrossed in narcissistic, blinkered and trivial battles for self rather than for national interest. The Election Commission of Pakistan and the incumbent PDM government, which came into power as a result of mid-night judicial decision on 9/10th April 2022 against then Prime Minister Imran Khan, is now targeting the same Supreme Court with open slanders, threats and defiance after SC’s order to hold elections in Punjab (and KPK) within 90 days as per the constitution.

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