Monday December 04, 2023

Balancing politics

By Editorial Board
September 21, 2022

The PTI seems to be indulging in a bit of introspection – perhaps a little late in the day. At least, this is the takeaway from former PTI minister Fawad Chaudhry's latest tweet on striving for 'balance' in power relations in the country, and on how power must be transferred to the people of Pakistan. Fawad Chaudhry has, in an uncharacteristically conciliatory tone, also asked political parties and the establishment to “rewrite [the] political framework” and “agree on [the] rules of [the] game”. This is big talk coming from a party that has been consistently denying anything is broken in the 'system' – till April and the VONC. Interestingly, this tweeted out olive branch comes a day after Imran Khan’s speech in Chakwal in which he talked about threats from unknown numbers and then went on to flex more rhetorical muscle. Imran, however, is careful to not name names even when indulging in the vitriol he is prone to turn to when desperate. It is this caution that also belies Imran's 'resistance' politics.

Fawad Chaudhry's proposal is hardly new, especially in a post-Charter of Democracy Pakistan. The CoD was about new modalities within the parameters of the constitution and about strengthening parliament and the political class. We heard similar sentiments aired by several PML-N leaders, including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi when he was prime minister and Shehbaz Sharif when he was leader of the opposition. A grand national dialogue between political stakeholders is something that has been talked about ad nauseam in Pakistan’s political history. Unfortunately, it has never taken place. And it will not take place without all the political stakeholders being on the 'same page' regarding the centre of power in the country. It will also not happen without an uncomfortable but necessary conversation between political and other stakeholders.

A country reeling from some of the worst politics it has seen in its 75-year history really needs calm, especially as it faces one of the worst natural disasters seen in recent years, many created economic disasters, and a society on the verge of breakdown. For this, we need a new political framework that spells out the power equations in the country, fixing the perennial imbalance our politics has suffered from. Imran had ignored a call for a political dialogue when it didn’t suit him; the PDM parties can do better. The way our political realm has been run, at the end of the day, it is the political class that suffers and the people’s mandate that gets rejected. Of course, when it comes to Imran Khan and the PTI, the U-turn fixation can always rear its head, as can a happy reconciliation with the power wielders in the country. If there is a constant in our politics, it can safely be this need to please the most powerful – at the cost of lessons learnt and sacrifices made. The PTI is only the newest kid on the block to have discovered this.