Wednesday May 18, 2022

The deal of democracy

By Editorial Board
January 19, 2022

Despite being a democracy, our country has once again become a place where speculation hovers over the air and there is talk once again of the ever-present ‘deal’. Hardly a day passes that we hear some new rumours and canards about impending change in the government structure. One day it’s the opposition smiling gleefully at being ‘approached’ by the powerful, the next day it’s a minister spouting stories about meetings at the top level with the establishment, and a whole other day an opposition leader is standing spinning a different yarn. The latest is the PTI claiming that four senior members of the PML-N held meetings with significant power players. The four are alleged to have offered themselves as replacements for the Sharif family as part of some ‘deal’. This ugly game is one we have seen before.

First off, the alleged rift among PML-N leaders and the most-talked-about feud within the Sharif family is a favourite topic of PTI leaders. Notwithstanding similar rifts among the ranks of the PTI itself, the news about wrangling in other parties have been doing repeated rounds. It appears that maligning each other has become a frequent pastime for political opponents and even the establishment is being dragged into the foray. The ruling party seems to be deriving certain pleasure about the support it has from the power centres. But, while the military spokesperson has rejected any suggestions about involvement in any ‘deal’, the rumours are still circulating with full force with political parties churning the same soup and the people bewildered if they will ever have a period of stability in the country. Be it the loyalty of the BAP from Balochistan or the willingness of the MQM to vote for or against recent legislations, there is a seemingly unending speculation at each turn

This is obviously not good for the country, for its economy, for its people, or for its democracy. We need clarity and we need to know precisely what is happening. As citizens in a democracy, this is the right of our people. Furthermore, if there has to be any change, it has to come within the constitutional framework and hints about any unconstitutional roles must be discouraged. There is a legal way of bringing a no-confidence motion in the assembly and in a democracy there should be no need for any ‘deals’. As the opposition’s protests are likely to gain some momentum in coming weeks, we must keep in mind that democracy – no matter how crippled it appears - must be allowed to continue. All political and non-political actors must follow a constitutional and democratic path, failing which we may end up with yet another square one. Meanwhile, an intense debate rages on: about the leadership of the PML-N, the opposition to the PTI from within the party, and the ‘one page’ that has been a source of much pride for the ruling party.