Finally, the third umpire has turned down Imran Khan’s appeal. The Judicial Commission that was formed in April this year after PTI-PML (N) agreement, after holding 39 hearings, has given its verdict. The JC in its Final Report has termed the elections largely free and fair by saying that “the 2013 general elections were in large part organized and conducted fairly and in accordance with the law,” and that “despite some lapses by the ECP it cannot be said on the evidence before the Commission that on an overall basis the elections were not a true and fair reflection of the mandate given by the electorate”.
The verdict vindicates the PML-N stance that elections were not rigged and that these were a true reflection of the people’s mandate. This, indeed, is a moral victory for the ruling party.
A whiff of fresh air came in Pakistan’s politics when the Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, in his address to the nation, showed political maturity and sagacity and instead of censuring PTI, he invited all political forces to “march ahead for democratic stability, progress and prosperity of the country”. This gesture made by the Premier is highly commendable.
Now that the matter seems settled after acceptance of the Report by the PTI Chairman Imran Khan, our political leaders should also bury the past and should move forward with a new zeal. They must direct all their efforts towards mitigating people’s miseries and should not indulge in futile blame game and political wrangling. They should show unity as the challenges our country is facing at present are complex and mighty. Recurring floods are wreaking havoc on the country’s infrastructure; terrorism — although a significant decline has been recorded in terror-related incidents — is impeding country’s development and Pakistan’s enemies are out to sabotage China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — the game-changer or, as some analysts say, the fate-changer for Pakistan. All these challenges can be responded to only with policies carved out after taking on board all political parties.
Nevertheless, the JC report has added a new chapter to the politics in Pakistan that should now be people-friendly and welfare-oriented. It is high time Imran Khan’s PTI returned to parliament to play its constructive role not only in expediting the process of electoral reforms but also in other matters of national importance.
Another event of profound significance that took place in recent days is the Iran Nuclear Deal that was reached, on July 14, between Iran and the P5+1 after marathon talks in Austrian capital Vienna. In this instance, wisdom and sanity prevailed and diplomacy, instead of more confrontation, carried the day. The deal, which, in the words of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is “a historic deal” on which “Iranians will be proud of for generations to come,” and which “stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region,” according to President Obama, was no less than a historic achievement for both sides.
As per the terms of the deal, Iran will mothball, for at least a decade, the majority of its centrifuges used to enrich uranium and will sharply reduce its low-enriched uranium stockpile. IAEA inspectors would have full access to all Iran’s declared nuclear sites and once the IAEA verifies that Iran has taken steps to shrink its programme, the debilitating UN, US and EU sanctions against the country will be lifted. Moreover, once implementation of the deal is confirmed, Iran will immediately gain access to around $100 billion in frozen assets. This means that Iran will be able to enter a new era of progress and development as key sectors of Iranian economy such as petrochemicals, aviation and finance will open up for trade and investment.
Despite all pros and cons of the deal one thing is sure: It reflects the new, changed ground realities in the Middle East as the deal has been heavily influenced by a dose of realpolitik. Being a stable power and a country that has a huge influence in Syria and considerable footprint in Iraq, Iran holds the key to resolving conflicts in Syria and Yemen. The West seeks Iranian cooperation in fight against the self-styled Islamic State (IS) that has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq.
Since the deal has piqued Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries — major American Allies in the Middle East — and US Congress is yet to ratify the deal, keep your fingers crossed to see how the future unfolds!