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February 24, 2020

Indispensability of political process

National

February 24, 2020

Pakistan may never come out of its perennial woes till all the state institutions do not operate within the parameters that are neatly and clearly visualised in the Constitution. The sordid obsession of the one institution to trespass into the domain of the other institution or institutions sadly have not become the relic of the past yet because the alacrity seemingly has been continuing unabatedly in one form or other according to largely held perception. If the state institutions do not understand this co-relationship to make them to observe it religiously then nothing could be more hostile to the future of this country suggesting their tunnel vision thinking. Those who do not learn from the past mistakes, or not held accountable for, are bound to repeat the doom and gloom scenario invariably.

Enough is enough because Pakistan may not afford more of it as existential threat is looming larger having direct negative bearings on the national security. The shocking news of last week that FATF has given another four-month breather to Pakistan with warning to meet the remaining targets or else be ready to face the certainty of putting the country in the black list. How ingenious and embarrassing for the nation? The official’s premature swagger in this count may surely sling in the face of the government with sting. The new breather may be treated by the state institutions as the last chance with no hope of benefit of doubt. They may spare no stone unturned to meet the targets given. The policy of hide and seek had never been beneficial to the national interests and will not be so during the present times. The delusions should be replaced by linear and rational thinking with clarity.

Trichotomy of power is of profound importance for the result-oriented functioning democracy. Its defiance may surely accrue political instability that may impede the micro and macro development of the political economy. The judiciary may not adjudicate on the issues those are essentially political as against legal in the interest of the indispensability of the political process. The disqualification of the former prime ministers had regretfully put the country on reverse gear with appalling consequences the country was facing today. The country was earlier making significant strides and the world was not taking it for granted. Food security strengthened national security during PPP government led by Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani. The economy during PML-N watch was growing at the rate of 5.8%, creating jobs more than one hundred thousand every month, rate of inflation was around 4% and interest rate was 6.25% matching the enabling environment for the growth of the economy even higher next year. The democratic dispensation was consolidating the democratic gains despite ruckus of sit-in. Today, many indicators of the economy are depressing with little hope of making turnaround. The people have suffered hugely, the country has been grappling in the bog mired in regression, the confidence of the investors is on the wane, and the international community does not hold very good views of the country. The democratic gains realised during the watch of PPP and PML-N had been largely thrown in the air. The democratic institutions have been trivialised with the Parliament reduced to a dormant forum. The resultant sense of loss and paralysis may not raise the eyebrows of many.

It may not give good feelings to know that the countdown of the incumbent government has begun vindicating the proverb sow the whirl to reap the whirlwind. The gelling together of the political opponents in the month of March to dislodge the PTI government may be result of PTI’s own making due to its bullying. It may not result in rocking the boat in terms of the continuity of the constitutional rule. The redeeming feature of such an eventuality, however, may surely establish the unraveling of test-tube political model yet again. It may also realise to “the selectors” the reinforcement of the reality of the failure of the manipulated model. The history of the country bears witness to this as the country had suffered heart-breaking humiliations and indignities during the successive direct military interventions in the political domain. The new methodology of driving from the rear seat has also not helped the country in anyway.

On the other hand, Bangladesh that attained independence in 1971 has become model of development today in this part of the region mainly due to the continuity of the political process ushering an era of political stability. It may be recalled the country remained stuck in a rut like us when authoritarian forces dominated the state affairs. In Pakistan, the downward spiral has not halted because of the covert disruptions in the normal political process unabatedly. Economic development without political stability is next to impossible. The state institutions may appreciate this rationale sooner the better and desist from quenching their appetite by usurping the space of others knowing fully well the inevitable dire consequences of such misadventure.

This time, the perception is still hanging right across that the Establishment intervened in the electoral process of 2018 to bring the PTI in power as its new progeny because other major political parties probably had fallen from its favour. The PTI government therefore was seemingly more of the choice of the institution instead of the people of Pakistan. It is for this reason that the present government lacked the requisite legitimacy and confidence to garner the support of the largest segments of the society in favour of its policies. Its failures to deliver in the form of good governance may not surprise many because of its perceived flawed and controversial democratic credentials. The lack of requisite experience in the governmental affairs cobbled with self-righteousness may be proving lethal combination to inflict maladies on the poorest people to the collective disappointment of the nation.

No wonder, the talks of countdown of this government has become the common parlance to the close proximity of divine proclamation. It is though unfortunate but may be the only option left to seek pathways out of the labyrinth. Chairman Bilawal Bhutto while talking to media last week in Lahore made it abundantly clear that getting rid of this government was the only option to save the nation from heading towards the precipice, killing inflation, retrogression and from the straightjacket of the (IMF) that is hell bound to squeeze the last drop of blood of the people of Pakistan. Who will buy the official projection of stabilisation of the economy when the inflation has hit the record level high, the country has been burdened with added debts to the tune of 40% during the watch of this government, the millions of unemployed youth running from pillar to post seeking jobs those are not there because development projects have been shelved to slow down the economy under the surreal garb of stabilisation, people have no money to buy the essential eatables to carry on with the life, the government is considering to raise the tariff of utility services that reportedly has been postponed till June this year. The people may be firmly of the views that this government has failed and failed miserably with no hope of better days. The people may be in the mood of paying back to the PTI with equal measure if opportunity comes in their way. The PTI support base seemingly has plummeted significantly if judged from the projections of the multimedia reflective of the public opinion. The people are angry and they are looking for the opportunity to outpour their anger with vengeance.

The main Opposition parties are also seemingly gearing up to raise the ante against the government and the month of March is going to be crucial for the incumbent government. The PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif is likely to return Pakistan next month after his surreptitious and yet meaningful silence suggesting part of the grand strategy. The PPP is also planning to launch aggressive mass contact movement against the government that has become increasingly unbearable liability. The “selectors” may be having second thought because they cannot afford to continue backing the extremely unpopular government. They must be cognizant that the part of the burden of the failures of the government will also end up on their table. The perception that the PTI government has been standing on the crutches of the Establishment may not remain valid for longer period of time if people take to the streets in large number on the call of the Opposition.

The stigma of rigged elections is still hanging in the air. The national and international media including the Human Rights Organisations in their findings have maintained the flawed electoral process of 2018 to favour the PTI. The New York Times in its report (31/7/18) comprehensively summarized the tactics applied to favour the “King’s Party” in these words: ‘By all accounts his (IK) victory was far from fair. Human Rights Groups, academics, western diplomats and political analysts have said that Pakistan’s Establishment systematically targeted political rivals in the months before the elections helping him to win’. The news and views vastly discussed the practice of forced defection of electable from the PML-N and the PPP to the PTI, GDA and BAP, witch-hunting through selective accountability, mainstreaming of banned and sectarian and extremist outfits, coercive censorship of media and intrusive interference of various entities to influence the election results on the day. So, the democratic credentials of the PTI require lot of explanations to vindicate its position to thwart the intensity of the blowback.

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