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September 16, 2019

Hurting federation


September 16, 2019

The reported move of the taking over of the administration of Karachi by the Federal government from the PPP provincial government of Sindh may not surely be legitimised constitutionally and politically because of its lack of compatibility with the 18th Amendment. It may, if bulldozed, indeed tantamount to shaking the foundations of the federation and the provincial autonomy to the extent of trespassing with juggernaut speed.

It will be deemed as the direct assault on the 18th Amendment that is overwhelmingly perceived as linchpin of strengthening the federation of Pakistan through the provincial autonomy. Law Minister Farogh Naseem’s role is increasingly reminding Sharifuddin Prizada’s legacy due to his evil- genius and insidious solutions presented to the dictators of the constitutional labyrinths. He is buried but his despicable legacy lives on.

The law minister may not like to earn the notoriety and so is advised in good faith to desist from treading the aforementioned trajectory. He has seemingly toned downed his earlier statement on the subject describing it as his personal views. The political leadership of the province has also rejected the move as ill-conceived and dangerous.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has bitterly opposed such attempt as it struck the heart of the federation and of the provincial autonomy. It would also set a very bad precedent deeply harming the federation beyond recognition, he maintained. It seemed that better sense had prevailed as the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while giving policy statement at the floor of the House, had stated in unequivocal terms that there was no decision to take over the administration of Karachi by the federal government. How irresponsible and naive on the part of the law minister to indulge in on such a sensitive issue and thereafter retracting by asserting it was his personal view? Such indulgence is unforgiving and may have the consequences. He is required to represent the government and not the particular party or group.

Ironically, right from the beginning, the PTI leadership’s impetuousness seems to have been on the spree of crossing all limitations imposed by the constitution in pursuance of their eagerness to play in the political arena with impunity. Their misplaced drive to reinvent the constitutional aberrations those were removed during the PPP government led by Asif Ali Zardari and Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani with political consensus may prove dangerous to the constitutional democracy. This may open a proverbial Pandora box. The 18th Amendment is deemed as PTI government’s prime target and so the 7th National Finance Award by direct implication that stipulates substantial increase of the share of the federating units out of the “Divisive Pool”. The 18th Amendment seemingly has become as an Achilles’ heel for the government and as such is desperate to mute its overbearing role in the affairs of the government both at federal and provincial levels. Its bald revile for the constitutional practices came to light at the time of the election of the Leader of the Opposition as the chairman of the PAC, inordinate delay in the formation of the parliamentary committees, nomination of the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan, and the overall treatment meted out to the Parliament that had been reduced to as the dormant forum.

The abject performance of the Parliament in the legislative business during its first year spoke volumes of the level of commitment of the incumbent government in parliamentary politics.

Who would dare to disagree to the indispensability of the national unity as the single most important part of the public policy? It undoubtedly enables the government to overcome the grave and complex challenges of diplomacy, governance and development at hand. The only exception sadly is the PTI leadership that reckons to get-it-alone approach. Its politics has been synonymous to grandstanding and brinkmanship right from the outset. It may surely meet with the series of failures during the coming years as well as is evident from the one year rule of the incumbent government. Ironically, it has been reeling from the misconception since it assumed the rein of the country that it could bring about admirable feats single-handedly while keeping the nation bitterly divided and the Opposition behind bars.

This thinking is both myopic and indeed very dangerous for the country, federation and democracy. Its backers and supporters may review their munificence in perpetuity on cost/benefit analysis to thwart the grave consequences looming larger with every passing day. Such pitfalls are not affordable when people’s wellbeing is at stake not to speak of multiple dangers the country is facing from both within and without.

The general perception that has been flying thick and fast since 2018 suggests that the overall downward slide has been continuing in the political economy that is showing no sign of abating. The sinking of the people deep in the morass of poverty due to the increased unemployment is depressing with the bleak prospects for future due to the projected growth of around 3% of the GDP. The job creation activities are totally in reverse as millions more presumably have been piling up in the club of unemployed, and the creation of ten million jobs manifestly looks as farce.

The economy is in tatters as the official figures testify the economic apocalypse to the collective trepidation and exasperating of the nation. Despite the grim obtaining situation, the government is seemingly not prepared to rewrite its policies even after one year with abject indicators of the political economy. But the incumbent government is least pushed to reconcile with the sobering ground realities to opt for paradigm shift.

One wonders as what they want to do with this country anyway? Their ego-centric approach is allegorical to like cutting the ground underneath their feet by their own doing.

Also, the dire need for national unity cannot be overemphasised after August 5 especially when Indian government unilaterally attempted the slitting of the jugular vein of Pakistan by declaring Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) as the part of the Indian union territory. It was a brazen violation of the international law and the UN Security Council resolutions and Shimla Accord. Ideally, the present government after putting all the political differences to the periphery should have reached out to the political leadership of all hues to seek their cooperation for the cause that was the matter of life and death for Pakistani people.

Ironically, the PTI leadership did not feel so and instead arrested the prominent opposition leader, Maryam Nawaz, who was going to address a public rally in Muzaffarabad, AJK, to express solidarity with the Kashmiri people. Chairman Bilawal Bhutto condemned the arrest as sheer witch-hunting and vendetta that might surely hurt the cause of Kashmir. What message would have gone across to the people of Kashmir? The Opposition leader of Senate, Raja Zafarul Haq, remarks of parallel situation of held Kashmir in Pakistan for Opposition leaders may invoke the sense of proportion of the government in the largest interest of the country.

Chairman Bilawal Bhutto assailed the government’s Kashmir policy by asserting that only a truly democratic government leadership could deal in meaningful and adroit manners reflecting the sentiments and aspirations of the Kashmiri and Pakistani people. The government jolt back to senses only after the annexation of Kashmir by the Indian government optimised to little too late.

Pakistan‘s belated diplomatic endeavours after Modi government had suddenly revoked the special status of IOK was minuscule as compared to the aftermaths.

Pakistan government’s belated springing into action to apprise the international community by articulating the annexation was flagrant violation of the UN Security Council resolution was grotesquely disproportionate in the first place.

The mute response of the international community was reflective of the inertia and failure of our foreign policy.

The government’s antennas should have been up to take preemptive robust diplomatic measures to scuttle Indian designs by forewarning the world capitals of the perfidious design of genocide and capitulation of the Kashmiri people. The BJP election manifesto manifestly contained the provision of revoking the special status of the Indian held Kashmir that regretfully did not evoke the matching response among the mandarins, and our case became the victim of default.

The stoicism of the government of Pakistan could not be condoned in the face of the muffed response of the international community. The people of Kashmir are not at all willing to give in to the bullying of the Indian government and the heavy deployment of troops to intimidate the people of Kashmir. Kashmiri people are not going to accept the yoke of Hinduism and are determined to write their own destiny no matter whatever the cost.

The government of Pakistan delayed initiatives to reach out to the international community might have met with degree of success but not good enough and not extensive enough either. The results of such endeavours might have been much of our liking if the government had launched prior campaign against the Modi government’s expected decision notwithstanding the countries had vital trade and commerce interests linked with the Indian vast economy offering attractive market. Right timing holds the key to success for any strategy whether dealing with domestic politics or with the intricacies of international diplomacy.

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