The importance of timing in politics

1 Dec 2017

It looks like the fight Nawaz is looking to fight for his nation is far too delayed. Why couldn’t he do what he is trying to do now during his first three years in office?

Time, beyond any doubt, is important in every aspect of our lives. However, in politics, the importance of time is far more pronounced. In order to understand its significance in politics, let’s have a look at the current situation of PML-N. They are raising a hue and cry about all the ‘injustices’ that are being inflicted upon them and they seem to be at odds with the ‘system’. Here the question arises; is this the right time for such politics?

Whenever a political party enters the political arena with a fresh mandate, its political power is at its peak. However, with the passage of time it starts to decline as the public’s complaints, unaddressed grievances and disappointments begin to accumulate. Blind to this phenomenon, once the politicians gain power, they usually think they have to a lot of time at their disposal to tend to the public’s needs. So they waste the crucial initial period; and when they finally realise what mistakes they’ve made, it’s always too late. Similarly, it looks like the fight Nawaz Sharif is looking to fight for his nation is far too delayed. Why couldn’t he do what he is trying to do now during his first three years in office?

Now that the situation has gotten completely out of hand, Nawaz Sharif seems to be running out of options. A few days back, Senator Farhatullah Babar suggested bringing army personnel and judges in the purview of (National Accountability Bureau) NAB, and the suggestion was taken seriously by Zahid Hamid, the chairman of the parliamentary committee for NAB. Here the question arises; why didn’t the PML-N do this earlier? Why are they attempting to bring about these major legal changes now, towards the end of their term? According to Nawaz Sharif, he is fighting this fight for his nation’s survival, but why now? Had he waged this war at the outset of his term, the country would have been much better off. Back in 2014, when almost all the political parties stood in support of Mian Nawaz Sharif, in lieu of the PTI sit in, it was one of his biggest political victories and a far better time to start his ‘war’ for the rights of the citizens. However, he let the moment pass by.

If we look at the situation now, all the legislative steps taken by the PML-N appear to be in retaliation to the Panama case verdict and an attempt to rescue the declining political influence of the Sharifs. While it would be cynical to doubt the intention of the PML-N, we cannot simply ignore what the masses think of their actions. Because at the end of the day, they are the politician’s main source of power.

It holds true that perceptions are more important than facts in the world of politics. Any political move that stirs feelings of scepticism amongst the public is undoubtedly counterproductive. However, Nawaz seems to be running out of strategies and time. The entire PML-N seems to be in survival mode. This mindset begets anxiety; and mistakes are more likely to happen.

If we look at the situation now, all the legislative steps taken by the PML-N appear to be in retaliation to the Panama case verdict and an attempt to rescue the declining political influence of the Sharifs. While it would be cynical to doubt the intention of the PML-N, we cannot simply ignore what the masses think of their actions. Because at the end of the day, they are the politicians main source of power

Nonetheless, the PML-N government is finally taking some steps in the right direction, and while it must be difficult for them to remain steadfast, given the circumstances, it will be fatal for them politically to give in at this point in time. Currently, the two groups within the PML-N are suggesting different political strategies. Some are suggesting adopting the politics of compromise while the others are encouraging them to stand their ground.

Prima facie, the strategy of prolonging the cases, following the law, depicting themselves as victims in front of people; and at the same time alluding at establishment for orchestrating their ordeal seems to be working in their favour. Maryam Nawaz, being a lady, appearing in court despite her two brothers who are also wanted in NAB court remain absent, does stir a degree of sympathy from the masses, especially the PML-N vote bank.

Pakistan’s political scene has transformed from a legal battle to a duel of nerves. As of now, the Sharif camp has successfully maintained it’s equanimity; Maryam Nawaz’s composure is especially commendable. However, goading powerful institutions is synonymous to playing with fire. There is a clear and present danger that in the flow of emotional political rhetoric, red lines can be crossed and things can go south very quickly. As it is said that one should start with the end in mind, are Sharifs mentally prepared for the all the possibilities? Nawaz claims he is prepared for all eventualities, but does this hold true for PML-N also?

Realistically speaking, most of our major political leaders, including the PML-N leadership have lived past the greater part of their productive lifespan. It is the need of the hour that our politicians start making a choice between quitting politics for good or putting national interests over personal interests. We are in such a precarious condition, as a country and as a nation, that we cannot withstand wasteful politics any longer. Whatever our politicians do today will define the course of future for the coming generations. At this point in time, politicians pursuing personal interests and making Faustian bargains can translate into Pakistan’s democratic forces losing an existential battle.

Published in Daily Times, December 1st 2017.

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