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October 18, 2020

Reconciliation

Opinion

October 18, 2020

The opposition must stop calling the prime minister ‘selected’. The opposition must accept the PTI’s legitimate right to rule. PM Imran Khan must stop labelling the entire opposition as ‘corrupt’ and calling them a “gang of dacoits”. PM Imran Khan and Mian Nawaz Sharif both must end this zero-sum game. To be certain, this ‘politics of confrontation’ is taking Pakistan into the abyss. The national need of the hour is ‘politics of reconciliation’.

In a parliamentary democracy, the government has a role and so does the opposition. The government is to formulate policies that will shape Pakistan’s future and the opposition must make sure that the government remains accountable to the people of Pakistan. PM Imran Khan is the premier of the whole country, not of a particular party or a group. Unfortunately, the government’s ‘anti-corruption narrative’ has produced next-to-nothing other than a beleaguered economy and a divided, deeply polarised polity. On the other hand, the PML-N’s all-out efforts to delegitimise an elected government have borne no fruit.

Pakistan’s enemies – and there are many – want the ‘politics of confrontation’ to continue. PM Imran Khan and Mian Nawaz Sharif must realise that the new war has moved from ‘weapons of mass destruction’ to ‘weapons of mass disruption’. Our enemies are now using ‘disruptive technologies’ as opposed to ‘destructive technologies’. Our enemies are bent upon exploiting the existing fissures in our society to their advantage.

In 2018, more than 12.9 million voted for the PML-N. These voters’ problems are the price of flour, sugar, electricity and gas. The PML-N ought to hold the government accountable. The opposition’s current fight against the government has nothing in it for a common Pakistani. In 2018, more than 16.9 million voted for the PTI. These voters’ problems are the same: price of flour, sugar, electricity and gas. The PTI’s top priority ought to be solving these problems. PM Imran Khan is driving a bus with 220 million Pakistanis in it. PM Imran Khan’s focus ought to be on the windshield and what’s ahead – rather than the rearview mirror (what happened in the past).

An IMF study titled ‘How does political instability affect economic growth?’, using a dataset covering up to 169 countries in the period between 1960 and 2004, concluded that “political instability significantly reduces economic growth, both statistically and economically.” Unfortunately, our political leadership has turned Pakistan into a case study.

Under the PTI, the sky high rate of inflation and mis-governance (especially in Punjab) has created a vacuum – and the madressah-bazaar combine stands to take advantage of both. As has been the case in previous purely political feuds, the ‘establishment’ will stay neutral. Mob psychology, however, should not be allowed to take over national interest.

Political “reconciliation involves the repairing of damaged political relationships among members of a society”. Political reconciliation means “democratic reciprocity in interaction, which is a willingness to seek common ground with fellow citizens on matters of public policy.” We all must ask two questions: Who benefits from this ‘politics of confrontation’? Certainly not Pakistan. Who benefits from ‘politics of reconciliation’? All of us.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @saleemfarrukh