Seventeen month Shahbaz Sharif Coalition govt Obituary of a Civilian Rule By Imtiaz Alam

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif flip-flopped through the economic mess left by Imran Khan’s govt to finally surrender to the IMF, to avert an imminent default. Shehbaz’s focus remained on his pet construction projects, besides fiscal alms to show his magnanimity at the state’s expense. Indeed, he ran a ragtag coalition without any hassle. The PML-N monopolised all major ministries, ones related to the economy in particular. Hence, the blame for inflation and economic slowdown goes to PMLN, with dangerous consequences for the party in the next elections. In a shameful reversal of political roles, the PDM betrayed its 26-point agenda of civilian supremacy and to fill the subordinate-space forced to be left behind by the most favoured (لاڈلا) of the military establishment. Imran Khan having failed to retrieve his position as a protege of establishment have now turned into a rebel without a cause. On the other hand, the PDM and the PPP are competing for positions in yet another farcical elections under the tutelage of the military establishment.

Shehbaz regime is distinguished by having meekly surrendered to the Garrison’s writ all around. Shehbaz helped engineer Four Coup D’Etas, which drastically reduced civilian space and civil liberties: first coup: under Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), by over-riding federal ministries and discarding provincial autonomy (18th Amendment) created supra constitutional bodies to handle foreign investment and broad range of economic ministries. The One-Window Operation through a Whole Govt body are the buzz words for military’s takeover of all natural resources, agro-lands, minerals, water, power, energy, IT, AI, etc. Second Coup: surrendering parliament’s supremacy by acting as a rubber stamp on the directions of GHQ. Without quorum, the parliament legislated laws that deviate from the constitutional spirit, such as caretaker powers, amendments in the Army Act, Official Secrets Act, Digital Media Law, Privatisation Law and PEMRA amendments not acceptable and dropped. Third Coup: CCI’s approval of Census that paved the way to postpone elections till re-demarcation of constituencies. Steps Against fairness of elections by implicating PTI Chairman and activists in innumerable cases, both prima facie factual and false and empowering of hand-picked caretakers. Efforts are afoot to embargo PTI and its Chairman. Fourth Coup: By reducing civil liberties, freedom of expression and independence of media.
This is how Shehbaz has emerged as a favourite future PM of the Establishment he is so proud of being an old protege. By doing all that was desired by the Garrison state, Shehbaz has also preempted the chances of Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif/Maryam and Bilawal Bhutto to seek Premiership. It’s now a divide between pro and anti Imran forces. In this confrontation, if Shehbaz has buried Charter of Democracy and “vote Ko Izat Do” narrative, an illiberal populist Imran Khan is on a war path without an end at the end of the tunnel. Worst sufferer are democracy and the people without a fair chance of franchise.

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