A leaf out of western democracies

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Zaheer Bhatti

NOTWITHSTANDING Donald Trump making American Democracy sound like the one being practised in Pakistan by refusing to concede defeat and attempting to use the Army to change the outcome of the polls he accuses of tampering, and storming of the US Congress, the extraordinary rebuke he has received from ten former US Secretaries of Defence; both Republican and Democrat warning the vanquished President that any effort[s] to involve the US Armed Forces in resolving election disputes would take the country into unconstitutional territory, and that the military had no role in determining outcome of US elections, should mirror the conduct to dispensation in Pakistan. Trump’s last bid in pressurizing Georgian Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to concede that his election defeat in Georgia was due to widespread fraud failed, as Republican guardian of elections refused to endorse the bad looser causing Republican loss of a Senate run-off in the State.
“The time for questioning the results has passed,” the US persona rightly professed, and so has it in Pakistan for over two years now. Pakistan must take a leaf out of Western democracies and emulate their enviable practices. The only option all stake-holders are left with, after a nationwide exercise involving precious time, resources and money, is to concentrate on how best to serve the interests of the State rather than waste their energies in fruitless stand-offs, so as to nurture and strengthen Parliament and the nascent democracy still struggling to hold ground. Unfortunately, the country’s defence forces which are constitutionally subservient to the civilian leadership have consciously taking a back seat, but being unnecessarily dragged into the political foray by the Opposition. They have rightly redirected the Opposition to avail constitutional avenues for addressing their concerns.
The political opposition, which is supposed to be the government in waiting, may by all means pin the government down and grill it over its lack of performance through the floor of the Assemblies and the Senate, but exploiting the already battered common man’s sentiment to beef up its so-called power shows not only causes physical hazards but also affects the economy and the potential business climate; an exercise which only impairs the functioning of the government and yields no dividends to the public. Add to it, its irresponsible rhetoric about the country’s foreign policy accusing the government of selling out on Kashmir or being an Israeli agent, and conversely the government branding the opposition as speaking the Indian language, lacks political maturity as this is one area in which countries across globe are unanimous as a nation.
The government also is doing no better in subconsciously becoming a party to the process of accountability rather than leaving it to the organization established for the purpose which by its one-sided proceedings against chosen Opposition leaders is making it worse and giving substance to the increasingly building common view that NAB despite claims of impartiality, was blatantly serving government interests rather than holding across-the-board accountability. Latest directions by the Prime Minister to his various spokespersons to expose the Opposition corruption with full force; little realizing that this is precisely what most of his team had been doing thus far, reflects his lack of flexibility; a cardinal requirement of a ruler. Instead of concentrating on the business for which he had been brought to power, his team like his predecessors has miserably failed which shows that the PM is not prepared to take initiative and engage the opposition over crucial national issues. My fear is that with continued raise in energy tariffs, meeting IMF’s people-grinding conditions and earning its ‘good-conduct’ certification, another tranche of IMF Loan may well be in the offing which the Government will use to pay back interests on loans and the rest on avenues not yielding productivity. This is bad news, and it is unfortunate that like all previous regimes, this one was also caught in a self-serving mirage and engaged in its version of people-friendly but subjectively administered Ehsaas Health Cards, Welfare Homes and ‘Kifalat’ Programs out of borrowed monies, presenting rosy pictures of improving national economy referencing international projection agencies, but with no trickledown effect whatsoever upon common man.
As for security in the country, with another maiming of a youth right under the nose of the Federal Government, each time such an episode comes to light, one is sure it would be shoved under the carpet like the mindless Lahore Model Town shoot-out, the Sahiwal slaying of roadside car inmates, the young Naqeebulla Mehsud and Amjad Sabri killings, and countless cases of rape and murder; all at the hands of the Country’s law-enforcing agencies. Mr Khan! the dreamer that he is for which one has credited him, the least he could do with the help of the defence forces with whom he claims to command complete unanimity, is to bring speedy justice to all these cases by scrapping any judicial hurdles with another Ordinance, upon which his government lives while fighting shy of Parliament.
A final word to all those relevant; just stop terming acts of violence and killings by mercenary forces as cowardly, and that the enemy would not be allowed to succeed in its nefarious designs of destabilising the country. The fact is that the enemy is succeeding, and despite being aware of enemy machinations, incidents such as the Hazara miners massacre are happening at will in Balochistan which is daring and not cowardly, and Pakistan is doing little to show that it is up to the task. It was a crude attempt by Maryam Nawaz to make political capital out of the dead, further reflecting upon her lowly credentials as a prospective political leader, but worse still has been the Prime Minister not meeting bereaved families promptly even prior to their demand and providing the healing touch, as did the KIWI Prime Minister which dramatically diffused situation.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.