Better sense prevails

4 May

By Mohammad Jamil

At long last, politicos have realised that pursuing politics of confrontation does not pay, and the matters should be decided through negotiations. In a democracy there is always difference of opinion between the political parties, but the differences are narrowed down through negotiations. But in Pakistan, the politicians had the tendency to take extreme position or rigid stand that took them to the cull de sac. The conduct of the PPP and PML-N leaders during 1990s was reflective of such phenomenon, which culminated in military intervention, their self-exile or exile through intervention of foreign friends. Both parties had signed the Charter of Democracy, and vowed not to repeat mistakes of the past. After 2008 elections, both parties formed a coalition government, which could not last even a few months, as PML-N had withdrawn from the coalition.

Political analysts and pundits had presaged that alliance or coalition between the PPP and PML-N would not last long, as both parties had different manifestos and ideologies, and have been archenemies in the past. Indeed, the unity between two major parties was unity in distress. In other words, leaders of both parties were united against former president Pervez Musharraf, who had vowed that Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif had no role in Pakistan’s politics any more. But once they consolidated their positions after their return, they started treading the same old beaten track. Anyhow, with regard to confrontation between government and the PTI, an agreement has been reached on formation of judicial commission, as better sense seems to have prevailed. There is realisation that confrontation could cast ominous shadows on polity in Pakistan. 


After reaching an agreement with PTI, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar contacted leaders of various parties and took them into confidence over the agreement on the formation of a judicial commission to probe the alleged poll rigging. The PPP, MQM, JI and National Party termed the Government-PTI agreement a positive development. However, the ANP and the JUI-F expressed reservations over the development. The MQM had the about face, and now opposes the formation of judicial commission. MQM also accused military establishment that Karachi operation was conducted against the MQM, which is not true. When the Rangers had conducted operation in Lyari against Amn Committee for months, the PPP did not say that operation was against Baloch and Sindhis. Similarly, operation was conducted in areas inhabited by Pashtuns such as kati-pahari, Sohrab Goth. In fact, Karachi operation is against criminals, bhatta mafia, target killers and terrorists, irrespective of their affiliation with any political or religious part.
Coming back to the government-PTI agreement, both sides have shown flexibility, as the government has earlier been insisting that the terms of reference (ToR) should be confined to organised rigging in 2013 election, and other aspects should not be included in the ToR. On the other hand, the PTI wanted that proposed judicial commission should investigate into the massive rigging in polls. The PTI had also initially demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should resign, but later dropped that demand. Anyhow, better sense has prevailed, as both sides have long last reached an agreement, and in the words of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah, formation of judicial commission would end confrontation, agitation and protests by the PTI. Of course, PML-N and PTI took quite a while to understand that confrontation between the political parties would embolden the militants.
In first week of January 2015, talking to newsmen, PML-N federal minister Ahsan Iqbal had said “the government would constitute a commission to probe the alleged rigging of elections before the January 18 so that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan will not have to spend his honeymoon period at D-Chowk”. We have been reminding the government to reciprocate the PTI, which had dropped the demand of prime minister’s resignation. The government has been prevaricating on the plea that it was a matter to be decided by the Election Commission, and secondly that he did not raise the issue earlier. It has to be mentioned that Imran Khan, within two weeks after the May 11, 2013 elections, had urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) and ECP to probe allegations of vote fraud during the elections. He had been warning that if his demand to probe allegations was not met, he would start protests. 


In fact, after two weeks of 2013 elections, in a video-link address to thousands of PTI protestors at D-Chowk, Imran Khan had protested against the poll-rigging. He had demanded of the ECP to recount votes in 25 constitutions, and verification of thumb-impressions in only four constituencies as a litmus test to evaluate the rigging allegations. So he was not asking for recounting only, but audit also. He has been running from pillar to post to get justice, but to no avail. However, the government has done well to accept his demand for formation of the judicial commission. Meanwhile, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) core committee has decided to return to the National Assembly after formal notification announcing the formation of the judicial commission to investigate alleged rigging in the 2013 elections, which will usher into an era of cooperation. 


Of course, all pillars of the state are committed to abide by the Constitution. Parliament is functioning; civil and military relations are satisfactory and both are on the same page; and operation against terrorists and criminals is progressing well. However, there are remours about shady deals in LNG imports, and also suspicions about the proposed privatisation of state enterprises. It is hoped that the government would ensure that all decisions and deals would be transparent. The government also must ensure that friends or family members of the ruling party do not take advantage of their position. Even when there is no provision about the conflict of interest, and even if it is not illegal, it may create suspicions concerning the fairness of decisions made by the government. It is vital that political parties rise above political exigencies and strive in unison to address the grave challenges faced by the country. 

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