Avoid political confrontation
GOVERNMENT is upbeat after winning Chairmanship and Deputy Chairmanship of the Senate. It has strengthened ruling party alliances in both houses.
The number of votes cast for Deputy Chairman can help government in legislation.
But the opposition is going to challenge Gilani’s chairmanship defeat and its other decisions will decide future direction of national politics amidst interior minister’s warnings to avoid politics of confrontation while country is looking for harmony and public centred politics.
The chairmanship loss has increased political pressure all stake holders.
It has derailed PPP’s policy of staying in power while democratically challenging the government.
It allowed Zardari to keep party rule in Sindh, protect party stakes in national politics and individual interests as moderate force in the 11 party PDM alliance.
It is a complex shroud which has sustained the current political setup this far. The critics call it a perpetual NRO of live and let live.
PML(N) and JUI (F) on the other hand opposed supporting the current system. They want the alliance to oust the regime with the policy of resignations and protests.
Giliani’s defeat has given these hawks a fresh impetus to bring politics from parliament to roads.
The critics are pointing out that opposition has run its course of protest rallies and protests cannot bring down governments. Due to Ramadan, the timing is in favour of government. It will be difficult for the PDM to organize a sit-in and long march.
Maulana Fazal has once again demanded for resignation as the only option alliance. He has no stake in the system because he lost in last election.
The parliamentarians are shy of resigning because there is no development in their constituencies.
They fear losing the next election if it is held immediately. The suo motu on 500m development fund puts things in perspective.
The selective dispensation of the funds weakens democracy, and it is mega corruption to release these funds secretly.
PPP’s democratic approach has produced some positive results for the opposition alliance also.
It has won 90% of by-elections. It gave the opposition a stake in the system and chance to show some progress to its voters.
The positive role of ECP in Daska by-election, SC on secret ballot also helped strengthen democracy at a time when system was its weakest.
It shows that opposition can interact positively if they are given level playing field in democracy instead of blaming them as anti-state. Interior Minister’s statement of avoiding politics of confrontation is very important.
PDM has rescheduled its meeting. It is hoped that sense will prevail. PPP’s decision to go to High Court against loss of Chairmanship is a window of opportunity. Gilani’s return can help continue democracy in the country.
It will represent South Punjab in national politics. The opposition has strong case and they can win the case based on previous SC rulings in favour of “intention of voter”.
In that case things will go from bad to worse for the democracy.
Government claims of putting success in both houses to do legislation may not bring desired results.
Keeping in view the options of resignation and protests with the opposition, there is no real prospect of any tangible progress.
The government will have to bring opposition back to Parliament if it is serious about delivering to the public.
PM will have to sit with the opposition to make laws on police, corruption, water and food security, energy, inflation, ending IMF program and cutting living cost.
The “neutral” tweet was a mistake. The use of spy technology in the Senate elections and London Plan media campaign are self defeating. PDM knows that it’s a work of political opponent.
If PPP gets the Senate Chairmanship back, then the alliance should help PML (N) get its due in Punjab and in national politics.
The poverty rate is double in Punjab. PM will have to stop culture of negative politics and give PML (N) and other parties in PDM the democratic support so that they can serve their voters.
The idea of dissolution of assembly is a non-starter. Any politician having link with ground realities will not even look at this option based on three year performance of the ruling party.
All those parliamentarians who have contested the elections and have experience of politics of the constituency will not go for election at this point of time.
If there is talk of dissolution of assembly then other options including minus one will become a top consideration in the interest of the country, region and the world.
The installation of spy cameras and microphone in Senate polling booth in for Senate election is unfortunate.
The focusing of one camera at the face level and other on the ballot paper was planned to compromise secrecy of ballot which is protected by the Constitution.
The state should ensure that those involved in illegal use of technology are given exemplary punishments to strengthen democracy and bring a permanent end to such practices in future.
Democracy should not have been undermined in upper house in such a way.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.