Friday June 21, 2024

Issues of the opposition

By Editorial Board
September 07, 2021

A well-functioning democracy has to have a well-behaved elected government and a constructive opposition. Pakistan is now experiencing the longest spell of democracy–13 years in the running as opposed to previous democratic experiments that did not last more than 11 years. With the current dispensation, we are yet to see the government and the opposition play their due roles to strengthen democratic norms in Pakistan. The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has been trying to – or at least claiming to – dislodge the government. The PDM tried agitation led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman and then assumed a low-key posture for a while. The worst thing that happened to the PDM was its parting of ways with the PPP. Yet again, now the PDM is trying to rekindle the movement without the PPP in its fold. There was a time in the 1990s that the PML-N and the PPP kept rocking the democratic boat by lashing at each other. After 11 years of shaking democracy we had yet another military coup in 1999. From 2008 to 2018 the PML-N and the PPP appeared to have learned some lessons and did not cross the limits they set in the 1990s.

Then it was the turn of Imran Khan who emerged as a counterfoil to both the PML-N and the PPP. The PTI repeated the same mantra and finally came to power in 2018. Now the PDM is planning to launch a march on Islamabad with an ostensible objective of ensuring free and fair elections in the country. Though there is no denying the fact that the country desperately needs a mechanism to ensure free and fair elections, launching a march on Islamabad is hardly the way to achieve this objective. There were serious concerns of the opposition regarding the 2018 general elections in the country. But the fact remains that apart from blaming the failure of the result transmission system (RTS), the losing parties have not been able to bring out a solid white paper on this issue. Despite reservations about the 2018 elections, the losing parties took oath of their assembly seats and participated in parliamentary proceedings. Now the PDM is once again coming together to launch a march on Islamabad. Meanwhile, the PDM and the PPP have had major differences and have been accusing each other of betrayal. The issuance of a show-cause to the ANP and the PPP was a misplaced move and further alienated the opposition parties from each other.

For a political alliance to succeed, it is imperative that the component parties do not try to impose harsh conditions on each other. Ideally, the best option is to strengthen the alliance by trying to readmit the ANP and the PPP. The truncated PDM as it stands now cannot afford to launch an agitation. If a political party or an alliance exhausts its support by untimely agitation, it loses the chance of gaining momentum when the right time comes. It is significant to maintain the level of support in the peoples, rather than losing it by misplaced decisions.