Middle ground or else

October 14, 2019

“Azadi March” establishes the heart-breaking veracity of the proverbial adage in the context of Pakistani politics as you sow so shall you reap. The million march protest indeed has...

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“Azadi March” establishes the heart-breaking veracity of the proverbial adage in the context of Pakistani politics as you sow so shall you reap. The million march protest indeed has direct and proportionate relationship to the PTI leadership’s failure to reciprocate to the Opposition’s preference of parliamentary politics over the street politics. The political initiative was spearheaded by the PPP and joined by the PML-N and others with the clear objective to continue to consolidate the democratic gains to frustration of the crooks. The PTI wrong reading of the offer of the Opposition and deciding to move on the trajectory of alleged “witch-hunting” may be paid in the form of unforgiving political consequences for the incumbent government and more poignantly for the country.

The top PPP leadership, cognizant of the political pitfalls of politics of agitation, has been advocating in perpetuity in their public statements that sit-in politics was bad in the past and may surely not be otherwise this time as well and therefore middle ground should be found to avert lamentable political outcome.

The PTI government is going to face tough times during the last week of this month when JUI-F led Azadi March advances to lockdown the country’s capital, a familiar strategy previously adopted by the ruling party to destabilise the former PML-N government. Now the clamouring of its Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi of the choosing of the wrong time by the protestors indeed smacks of the hypocrisy as two wrongs cannot make one right. The PTI leader was indeed victim of short memory as the PTI sit-in forced the postponement of the Chinese president’s visit to Pakistan to announce CPEC package of around 49 billion dollars. Was it right for the PTI at that time? It was obviously strategised by the PTI in its attempt to deprive the then government of the political dividends of the visit considered contrary to their trivial party politics considerations. Now, the PTI leadership is going to have the taste of its medicine not because of the Opposition but because of its own flawed political strategy of victimisation of the opponents. They have been left with no option except to force this government to see sense in parliamentary politics rather than in putting the political opponents in jail on specious grounds.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has emerged as the powerful supporter of the Parliament and parliamentary politics. He has made it clear that he would not participate in any movement against the government that ran the risk of putting the democracy and the Parliament in jeopardy. PPP politics is politics of democracy and its continuity and will be hesitant to create a situation like of (PNA) that led to the imposition of ferocious dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq. The chairman has been walking the tight rope because the PTI government has been pushing the entire Opposition to the wall leaving no option but to confront the government as a last resort.

The PPP leader has committed moral support to the anti-government agitation being spearheaded by JUI-F but is hesitant to join the anti-government movement for the sake of securing the future of democracy in the country. His articulation of finding “middle ground” holds lot of sense but PTI leadership is sadly impervious to the collective chagrin of the nation. The reckless drive of the PTI government against the PPP leaders may push the party to join the anti-government movement with no holds barred considering its continuity poses greater danger to the constitution and the federation.

Parliament is the mother of all institutions. It is universally accepted and acclaimed as such. For, it is the repository of the aspirations of the people and indeed custodian of the national interests. The nations those scrupulously adhere to the imperative of its reverence and relevance are deemed as the civilised nations meaningfully engaged in making significant strides in all walks of life. For, the resultant political stability underwrites the smooth sailing of the statecraft with the widest participation of the people. The state institutions or other forces those revile the Parliament by way of unwarranted intervention or bullying are deemed as vermin of the state inflicting irreparable damages to the country and the nation under the phony claim of greater national interests. Those who smothered the Parliament are indeed guilty of disrespecting the nation and their aspirations and therefore may not qualify to be assigned the privilege of representing them.

The track record of the PPP and its governments undoubtedly optimised the observance of Parliament decorum with trappings of outstanding performance in the legislative business of historic importance beginning with the giving of the 1973 Constitution to the nation. The PPP government led by Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani managed to enact the 18th Amendment with consensus, so the 7th National Finance Award, the legislation pertaining to the welfare of minorities and the empowerment of women folk etc. were the shining examples of the legislative business carried out during the watch of PPP government. It is a matter of parliamentary record that PPP tabled 139 bills after consultation with the Opposition parties during its five years tenure (2008-13) and about 98% were adopted with consensus. The politics of consensus had been the hallmark of the PPP parliamentary politics, and the positive impact of such politics in the country was phenomenal due to the undisputed support of the people. No one can dare to undo the 18th Amendment in the Constitution because it was unanimously passed by the Parliament. The antagonists of this amendment did talk against the amendment to test waters but they seemingly had backtracked after experiencing the strong reaction coming from all around and especially from the smaller federating units of the federation. The people of Pakistan have taken the ownership that will stand guard against the treacherous designs of authoritarian and despotic forces.

All the sane voices have been earnestly urging the PTI government to take along the Opposition as the policy of vendetta, bereft of vision, may hurt the nation beyond recognition. So far, the PTI leadership is not impressed and wants to continue to proceed while treading on the trajectory of get-it alone approach that is bound to fail in a parliamentary democratic dispensation. Ironically, PTI’s notoriety of meting out step motherly treatment to the Parliament has been continuing to the collective annoying of the nation and of the democratic forces. It started with the sit-in politics of the PTI during the previous PML-N government that continued throughout the tenure with the purport strategy to impede its performance in order to undermine its electoral prospects in the elections, 2018. The PTI reviled and delegitimised all the democratic institutions and almost invited the intervention of the authoritarian forces.

After falling from the favour of the Establishment in the Dawnleaks, the PML-N government was paralysed as its prime minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court as a result of the dispensation of “disproportionate justice” for holding work permit Iqama. His dismissal from the office of the Chief Executive of the country triggered the political instability in the country eclipsing the whole political horizon of the country grossly detrimental to the nation building process which was on track by and large. The international index of the country’s economy, as determined by the international financial and banking institutions, was promising. Pakistan ‘economy was progressing at the rate of 5.8% with comfortable foreign exchange reserves and it had been generating more jobs than the intake of the unemployed. Now, the economy is seemingly in reverse gear presenting gloomy picture all around.

What Pakistan had achieved so far could be safely attributed to the role of the politicians and the public representative institutions. The country’s existence solely credited to the Quaid-i-Azam and other Muslim League leaders. The first constitution of Pakistan of 1956 was the worthwhile achievement that was undone by General Ayub Khan paving the way for the establishment of Bangladesh. The 1973 Constitution was framed by the elected Parliament, again the result of the painstaking efforts of the elected politicians working in the constituent assembly. It was unanimously passed and enforced with parliamentary democracy and federal characteristics. The 1973 Constitution, according to PPP former prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, is solely responsible for the unity of the country after the debacle of Dhaka.


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