Monday June 24, 2024

It’s time to talk

By Malik Muhammad Ashraf
July 02, 2022

It is rather obvious that the country is experiencing the worst ever economic and political crisis owing to the shenanigans of all our rulers, elected or unelected. They are all responsible for where the country stands now. But the most unfortunate thing is that political leaders are refusing to learn from self-inflicted tragedies and remain mired in petty politics rather than thinking in terms of the greater good of the country and the people as envisioned by the founders of the country.

The country has had to wade through never-ending political crises all along its history, stemming from the culture of not accepting the results of elections by the losing parties and the consequent conspiracies to dislodge sitting governments. Political instability decidedly torpedoes any chances of economic progress and prosperity. Who can forget the crass politics of the 1950s and 90s? No serious effort was made to reform the political system that triggered political upheavals – and history continues to repeat itself.

However, nothing compares to the political instability and the resultant economic meltdown that has gripped the country since the 2013 general elections. The self-styled revolutionary who in the end has turned out to be the biggest demagogue of them all has not only introduced a culture of violence in politics but also defiance of law and constitution and disrespect for political opponents. He has shown an irresistible propensity to proclaim self-righteousness and rule the roost to the exclusion of all other stakeholders.

The politics of the country seems more about intractable tribal feuds than political rivalries in a democratic dispensation. The man does not trust any state institution unless it is favourably disposed towards his party and also does not hesitate to throw unnecessary and incorrect flak at them to undermine their reputation. It was his irreconcilable disposition towards the opposition when he was in power and to perpetrate a political vendetta on them which finally brought his down fall through a vote of no-confidence, a constitutional way of getting rid of an errant ruler, though I do not agree with efforts to destabilize governments and not allowing them to complete their mandated tenure.

After his exit from power, instead of remaining part of parliament – which was the right thing to do in the given circumstances – Imran Khan has chosen to invent false narratives like he has in the past without ever thinking of the consequences of such irresponsible escapades. He invented the tale of a conspiracy allegedly orchestrated by the US with the connivance of people from the PDM, and refused to accept the PDM government on which he has continued to hurl the epithet of imported rulers. Along the way he has also pointed to the establishment and added to the list of conspirators, which according to him now also include India and Israel. He is also trying to create hurdles in the functioning of the new setup and thinks that immediate elections are the only way the country can be pulled out of the ever-deteriorating situation.

While Imran demands immediate elections, he does not trust the current chief election commissioner on whom his party has persistently heaped scorn and accused him of bias against the party. The party has already started a smear campaign against ECP, alleging that a plan has been chalked out to rig the by-elections in Punjab. That seems to be a pre-emptive effort to create doubt about election results and then propagate the mantra of rigging in case the party loses the elections. This has been the party line all along.

Under the circumstances, the demand of immediate general elections is untenable. The question is: will an election result be acceptable to the party if held under the incumbent CEC? That seems impossible going by the track record of the party. Elections have always generated controversies. Therefore there is a need for a national dialogue to evolve an electoral system and national economic agenda on which all stakeholders come to a consensus before going for the next polls. The prevalent system of electing our representatives has failed to bring political stability in the country and has in fact given birth to a myriad of contentious issues.

The PTI needs to understand that if the elections are held under the prevalent system and it happens to win them, the losing parties would also not accept the result and continue their efforts to destabilize the PTI. This vicious cycle will continue – to the detriment of the hapless people who have to face the consequences of the selfish motives of these politicians whose sole aim seems to be to grab power by hook or by crook.

That said, the reality at the moment is that Imran Khan is not willing to enter into any dialogue with the opposition, notwithstanding the fact that the coalition has repeatedly expressed the desire for a national consensus on the fissiparous issues. Elections are not the solution to the permeating political instability and the economic crisis. Even if Imran Khan is catapulted to the corridors of power again, he will not be in a position to pull the country out of the economic quagmire it is stuck in. He does not have a magic wand to do it.

The economic crisis is also linked to the global economic environment – which at the moment is having a negative effect on even affluent countries – besides the unimaginative policies pursued by the previous PTI government and its predecessors. Political parties have to adopt a realistic discourse and stop trying to fool the people by false promises and things that are undoable.

The only way the country can be pulled out of this burgeoning crisis is for political leaders and parties to shun their false egos and get together to winch the country out of the formidable challenges it is confronted with. They must realize that their politics of vendetta and conspiracies has done tremendous harm to the country and if they continue with their politics of self-aggrandizement it might push the country towards the edge of a precipice.

It is time to forge a new course for the country through collective efforts. Politics can wait for better times. I am sure the Quaid must be turning in his grave to see what these politicians have done to this god-gifted country. My appeal to them would be please let the Quaid rest in his eternal abode. I would also appeal to the praetorian powers to play a positive role in bringing reconciliation between these hostile political forces and nudge them towards dialogue to resolve all the disputed issues before going for next elections so that the country moves towards political stability and economic progress.

The writer is a freelance contributor. He can be reached at: