Islamabad (Imran Y. CHOUDHRY) :- Former Press Secretary to the President, Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, Former MD, SRBC Mr. Qamar Bashir analysis :
Pakistan’s political landscape stands at the brink of a transformative era, distinct from previous phases dominated by aristocrats, agriculturists, business magnates, and the military elite. In a calculated move, the establishment has consciously shut the doors on PTI’s seasoned and controllable politicians. However, this strategic maneuver has inadvertently swung wide open the gates for a formidable new wave of rivals: the legal minds—the lawyers.
The jailed party leader, still wielding immense public support, makes a bold move by entrusting party tickets to a cadre of lawyers, capitalizing on their legal expertise, credibility, and widespread recognition. This decision reverberates positively across the country, where the populace views the influx of lawyers into politics as a beacon of hope and integrity in a politically turbulent landscape.
Yet, despite the public’s favorable reception of the lawyers joining the PTI, the path to electoral victory remains fraught with challenges. The formidable opposition posed by the all-powerful military elite, with their entrenched control over various spheres of influence, casts a shadow over the PTI’s prospects.
The outcome depends on PTI’s resilience, the lawyers’ ability to rally public support, and the level of interference from the powerful military elite. Despite the odds against PTI, the entry of lawyers into politics signals transforming Pakistan’s political landscape, posing an unexpected challenge to the established order. This unintended consequence reshapes power dynamics, presenting a significant challenge to the entrenched influence of established factions.
In this tumultuous scenario, the PTI finds itself in an unprecedented predicament, with the powerful military elite resorting to coercive tactics that have led to the incarceration and forced departure of key party leaders. Stripped of its core politicians, including a deeply popular Chairman with an astounding 90% approval rating, the PTI faces an uphill battle.
The military’s influence looms large, potentially impeding the PTI’s campaign through various means—manipulating the media narrative, intimidating voters, or even exerting control over electoral processes. Their capacity to undermine the PTI’s efforts cannot be underestimated, given their extensive reach and resources.
Nonetheless, the lawyers’ inclusion injects a new vigor into the PTI’s campaign presenting a compelling narrative to the electorate, promising a departure from traditional politics tainted by coercion and manipulation. The lawyers’ ability to articulate the PTI’s message, coupled with their strong public appeal, serves as a potent force in mobilizing support and countering the military’s influence.
In this scenario, the jailed party leader’s decision to nominate lawyers in place of the imprisoned and coerced party members can lead to a seismic shift in the political landscape. The country, eager for change and weary of autocratic control, might see these lawyers as symbols of hope and integrity in a corrupted political environment. Their professional backgrounds could serve as a powerful rallying point, attracting widespread support from various sectors disillusioned with traditional politics. The lawyers, well-versed in the law and skilled in articulating complex issues, could effectively communicate the party’s message, outlining a vision for restoring democratic principles, rule of law, and civil liberties.
The decision by military elites to coerce the departure of conventional politicians from the party could yield unintended consequences, ultimately working against their bid to safeguard vested interests. By forcing out established politicians, the military might inadvertently strengthen the opposition outside the ruling party. This newly bolstered opposition, critical of military interference, could gain momentum and public sympathy. Additionally, the vacuum left by departing politicians could pave the way for the emergence of new leaders within the party. These emerging leaders might challenge the military’s influence more vehemently, leveraging their legal knowledge to resist coercion and challenge attempts at undue control within the government.
A government formed by a party coerced into fielding lawyers as candidates by military elites would inherently possess a strategic advantage in confronting the military’s influence. Lawyers, through their legal training and experience, possess a nuanced understanding of legal frameworks, constitutional principles, and strategic thinking. This expertise equips them with the ability to foresee potential legal maneuvers by the military and devise counter strategies within legal boundaries. For instance, in navigating attempts to manipulate legislative processes or coerce the judiciary, lawyers-turned-politicians can leverage their legal acumen to expose such actions and rally support for upholding the rule of law. This strategic advantage, grounded in legal expertise, allows for more informed and calculated responses to the military’s attempts at interference.
Even if PTI loses election and forms a lawyers-led opposition in the newly formed government post the February 8, 2024, general elections could significantly challenge military control in Pakistan. With their emphasis on legal expertise and commitment to accountability, lawyers might advocate for increased civilian oversight, reforms limiting military influence, and heightened transparency in defense affairs. This shift could strain civil-military relations, potentially leading to tensions and debates over the military’s role in governance, defense policies, and international alliances, ultimately reshaping the power dynamics between the government and the military.
From the perspective of the all-powerful military elites seeking to preserve control over domestic and international affairs, permitting conventional politicians to participate in elections, rather than facilitating the ascension of lawyers to form the government, aligns strategically with their interests. Allowing conventional politicians to contest elections maintains an appearance of democratic legitimacy, reducing the likelihood of significant public or international outcry.
Moreover, these politicians are more open to controlled reforms that align with the military’s interests, ensuring changes don’t pose a threat to established power structures. This enables the military to control the pace and direction of reforms, safeguarding their entrenched interests.
Additionally, a government led by conventional politicians offers maneuverability to military elites in international relations, critical for diplomatic ties, foreign investments, and maintaining a positive international image which aligns with the military’s geopolitical and economic objectives, safeguarding their interests on the global stage. It can create an appearance of democratic legitimacy, allowing the military to maintain control without inciting significant resistance or outcry from the public or international community.
Ultimately, allowing conventional politicians to contest elections and potentially form the government aligns more closely with the military’s interests in maintaining control, stability, and a familiar political landscape. It offers a strategic pathway to uphold influence over domestic affairs while presenting a more palatable image both domestically and internationally compared to the potential repercussions of coercing a lawyer-dominated government into power.
The entrance of lawyers into Pakistan’s political mainstream poses an unprecedented challenge to the highly entrenched vested interests of the military elite. This seismic shift, marked by the ascent of legal minds in politics, threatens to disrupt the established power dynamics that have long been under the influence of traditional power brokers. The inadvertent consequence of sidelining conventional politicians in favor of lawyers has unleashed a force capable of reshaping governance, advocating for accountability, and challenging autocratic control. This transformation, driven by legal expertise and a commitment to justice, presents a formidable obstacle to the military’s historically entrenched hold on political affairs. As lawyers increasingly assert their influence and advocate for democratic principles, transparency, and the rule of law, they pose a direct challenge to the military’s dominance, potentially heralding a new era where legal intellect and public advocacy supersede the traditional stronghold of old-guard power structures.