The result was an obvious mixing of party interests with those of the State or the former receiving preference over the latter. Problems were bound to arise, and did arise more often than. Party and governments need to be separated from each other. Though difficult in real terms to practice it, yet a system where party guides the government of the day, does prove beneficial or tend to give that impression at least. Sonia Gandhi in India keeps an eye on Manmohan Singh as premier, and also on the party’s conduct in the parliament.
England, and USA are also front-line examples of that. In Pakistan, Asif Zardari, as co-chairman of PPP, did try initially to copy that here also, but was soon tempted to be the Head of the State himself. Not only that, party meetings are held in Presidency, at governors’ houses in the province, and in the state owned Punjab House in the Capital. These problems now need to go but politicians unfortunately in a country, carved out of the free will of the people, fell victim to machinations of the vested interests. Bhutto kept the military and ISI under his own control, but Benazir and Nawaz Sharif, either simply failed to do that, or were made to pay for trying to control the military.
Time perhaps is on the side of PPP’s Yusuf Raza Gilani, who despite wasting three precious years in conceiving, initiating or executing major policy decisions to help overcome inflation, galloping at a horrifying rate, solving power problem, producing a satisfying labour policy, and many other public issues, got enormous support from his comrades in arms on foreign policy perceptions.
His idea to initiate the All Parties Conference, and invite even the smallest group for a national consensus on how to deal with the only super power of the country, earned tremendous success in achieving the goal he had set for himself. The APC of Sept 29, may generate a debate for its merits and demerits, but the fact remains that it saw all and sundry in politics around one table after a long, long time.
The last such conference was organized by late Mohammad Khan Junejo, who risked his mentor General Ziaul Haq’s ire to get a resolution passed for signing the Geneva Accord to let the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Junejo was also snubbed by Zia for inviting Benazir and Nusrat Bhutto to the conference, but despite being a political non-entity(he was only a minister of health in the then West Pakistan under late Late Kalabagh, but he preferred to resign, and then in PNA government under Zia was Railways minister). Yet he depicted much greater political insight than was expected of him, and ultimately got the martial law lifted. Gilani was one up on him for being minister in the centre, and also the Speaker of the National Assembly, and finally, after suffering all kinds of criticism and accusations for being inept, had to be portrayed as being skilful and a crafty Prime Minister, winning numbers as top-notcher. However his ability to implement the decisions of the APC, is what that will count in the final run.
The fact that the APC resolution, after its marathon 11 hour session, passed a resolution, drafted by Imran Khan, Chaudhri Nisar Ali Khan, and Asfandyar Wali, apart from Babar Awan, was carried unanimously and showed the nation’s resolve to unite against threats held out from a super power. USA has been on the backfoot now.
It goes to prove therefore that political leadership and the will of the people of a country, is more powerful than even the mightiest of powers in the world. Parliament and democracy stand to gain and will be able to assert itself now. The military’s decision to run the foreign policy has been turned subservient to civilian perceptions and control, which is victory for the politicians and for political institutions/
Whether the US has begun to retreat, or is trying to mend fences, though visible only in fluid form, proves beyond any shadow of doubt that the will of the people to survive and face the odds has won, which is what will really count in the ultimate analysis.