“Tis strange – but true; for truth is

always strange. Stranger than fiction.”

–Byron

Since Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is increasingly becoming known for making absurd statements, nobody took him seriously when he said that there was a conspiracy to plunge the country in mid-term elections. Presently there was no earthly reason to believe that mid-term elections were a requirement. However Chaudhry Nisar should admit that his party’s government has failed on some issues that requires a fresh mandate. He also accused Tehreek-i-Insaf of raising issues that could push the country towards early elections. Chairman PTI Imran Khan was not only prompt to reject the Minister’s notion bluntly, he informed him that PTI was not interested in mid-term elections in the country.

The issue had a bearing on the removal of NADRA chief and his reinstatement by the superior judiciary. There are many people in the country who believe that the NADRA chairman was removed due to his stand on the principle that he would verify certain seats of the National Assembly by bringing into play the verification of voters’ thumb impressions. While claims and counter claims were being made by the NADRA chief and the interior minister, the Election Commission of Pakistan also decided to put its foot down by rebutting interior minister’s claim by telling him that magnetic ink was used. It seems that the present government led by Mian Nawaz Sharif is facing serious difficulties not only in fixing its priorities but also is failing to rein in some cabinet ministers who are openly meddling in the domain of other departments creating confusion about the intentions of the government.

The mere fact that an important member of Prime Minister’s cabinet has come out with a claim that a conspiracy is underway to push the country towards mid-term elections has strengthened the hand of Mian Nawaz Sharif’s detractors who have been clamoring that selective rigging was committed during the last general elections. These elements which include members of the civil society and some senior politicians propounded this theory and then linked it up with the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in the year 2014 leading up to the impression that Mian Nawaz Sharif had come to power through a deal with the Americans so that they are provided with a safe passage.

Following this theory Imran Khan decided to block NATO supply trucks, which created problems not only for the Americans but for nearly 30 other NATO countries who have now threatened to take punitive action against Pakistan. The reason given by Mr Khan remains the drone attacks on Pakistan’s restless border areas with Afghanistan where many fugitives and high value targets belonging to Al Qaeda and Taliban have perished. However, the collateral damage inflicted on innocent civilians that include women and children has bred hostility for the Americans. Where large segments of Pakistani population tend to agree with the government that drone attacks conducted by the American CIA are proving to be counter-productive and have not helped in eliminating terrorism and extremism, it could be assumed that the attacks have a positive or productive impact in weeding out terrorism.

The Pakistani government has been caught in a situation where the armed forces of the country while providing space for a negotiated settlement with Pakistani Taliban are not willing to accept certain pre-conditions laid down by the militants which have made the road of negotiations perilous. Many believe that at the end of the day, it will be the army who will have to conduct Swat like operation to either eliminate or flush out these extremists from their mountain hide-outs so that a loud and clear message is sent to them that it will not be the terrorists but the government of Pakistan which will decide the terms and conditions of the negotiations.

Coming back to the theory of mid-term elections, it must be remembered that revival of democracy is a story of great struggle and as such there should be no room to propound any fancy theories on this issue. Only those who do not accept the will of the people would be ready to embrace the idea of mid-term elections and therefore, it needs to be snubbed by all those who believe in democratic dispensation in Pakistan. It would have been better if Mian Nawaz Sharif had come out and made a statement on the issue that the country was going in the right direction and all democratic forces remained united and that there was no question of any mid-term elections. He should also rein in loose cannons like Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to refrain from issuing confusing statements that could spread an air of political uncertainty in the country.

The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist.

Email:zarnatta@hotmail.com