THE PTI Government deserves credit for regularly holding meetings of the Federal Cabinet and disposing of a heavy agenda, which is in stark contrast to the past when this top forum was not much instrumental in fulfilling its responsibility of taking collective decisions.
The Federal Cabinet once again met on Tuesday with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair and a number of important decisions were taken including the one to move towards convening of the joint session of Parliament to approve legislation for use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), promulgation of an ordinance to do away with the mandatory consultations with the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly on appointment of Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), holding of a fresh census and celebration of Eid Milad-un-Nabi (SAWW) as Rahmatul-lil-Alameen Ashra from the 3rd of Rabiul-Awwal to 13th of Rabiul-Awwal besides discussions on Pandora Papers and protests by doctors.
There is no doubt that the National Assembly has already adopted a motion, albeit unilaterally, to refer the bill regarding electoral reforms envisaging use of EVMs and right of vote for overseas Pakistanis but there have been some positive developments, which conveyed an impression that instead of resolving the issue through brute majority in the joint sessions the Government intends to sort out the matter through discussion and dialogue with the Opposition.
The instructions given by the Prime Minister to the Speaker of the National Assembly on the issue and reports about formation of a parliamentary committee raised expectations in this regard but the decision of the cabinet on Tuesday sacrifices all these good moves at the altar of political expediencies.
Except for governmental circles, there is consensus among all other segments of the society that the way the Government is trying to impose the use of EVMs is a sure path to make next elections controversial even before they are held.
One fails to understand what the Government wants to achieve by showing undue haste and obstinacy on the issue as in the given situation the passage of the controversial law would not end mistrust in the process of holding fair and transparent elections.
The Government is also not in a mood to consult the leader of the Opposition and instead wants to promulgate an ordinance unilaterally amending the law in vogue with a view to doing away with the requirement of consultations, which is not in line with the democratic spirit as the Prime Minister has been consulting with the same leader of the Opposition on other constitutional issues.
Apart from the expected response from PML (N), PPP too has rejected such a proposition and there is likelihood of challenging the imposition of the ordinance in the court of law. There is also a feeling that the path of ordinance has been chosen to allow the incumbent Chairman to continue for an unspecified period.
As the Government is not transmitting the right kind of message on these two issues, there is a need for adopting a pragmatic approach of dialogue and creating consensus so that the process of electoral reforms and appointment of Chairman NAB do not become controversial.
The decision to hold fresh census and use of technology for the purpose is good-intentioned but the issue can become tricky once again if the pledge of use of best global practices is not translated into reality.
The decision to celebrate Eid Milad Ashra has the potential to bring into focus different aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) and spread the true message of Islam, which is need of the time in the backdrop of societal changes and behaviour especially in the context of social media impact on daily life and we hope an elaborate programme would be chalked out to realize this objective.
The Government has done well by referring the issue of Pandora Papers to the Prime Minister’s Inspection Cell but the remarks made by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry regarding media’s focus on some personalities are not weighty.
Though malpractices by any citizens are illegal and subject to accountability but those who claim to be representatives of the masses matter much as they are supposed to be role models.
The Minister also made interesting remarks about provision of over ten million jobs during the last three years of the PTI Government, a claim not substantiated by ground realities like the tree tsunami.
The Government has a justified position on the issue of protests by doctors against test for license as they cannot be allowed to play with the life of the people. Genuine doctors need not worry over tests, which help assess their real skills and worth.